It’s the holiday season here in the US and in many other parts of the world. People are decorating their homes, baking tasty treats, buying lots of gifts, and spending time with loved ones. All of these activities can be wonderful with children and somewhat challenging with little babies. My three year old is just getting old enough to care about Christmas which means we’re doing a lot of quick thinking about what traditions we want to pass on to her.  I enjoy a lot of the festiveness of Christmas, and there are many activities I would like to do with our children.  This is majorly complicated by having a six month old baby in tow.  I’ve decided that my approach to the holidays will be much like my approach to parenting in general.  My goal is to be a good enough parent this holiday season.

Here’s what that means to me.

Dialing back my Pinterest-worthy vision of ….well, everything.  In my mind I see a house decorated well enough to make the cover of Pottery Barn.  I envision sending carefully crafted care packages to family with an array of pre-school created crafts and treats. Our holiday meal is something spectacular enough to be Instagrammed to friends and families.

As a good enough parent, I stuck some evergreens in my window boxes, strung up a few lights and called it festive. We slapped together some Christmas Tree crafts spontaneously one afternoon when my daughter was motivated. I still haven’t made the care packages for family and I’m letting my mother-in-law take the reigns for the holiday meal – Thanks Olga!

Embracing the season of our lives.  I’m being a good enough parent this holiday season by recognizing the season we’re in.  My baby is small and needs to be held, nursed, and cuddled for most of the day.  My three year old needs her parents close to play with her and help her feel special with a new baby around.  This means there’s not a lot of time for creating elaborately staged holiday activities or treats.  Even though our decorations may be lean, I’m confident that my children will remember the love and nurturing they received from their good enough parents. I doubt they’ll look back and ask why we didn’t have an elf on the shelf or take the sleigh ride to get the tree. (There’s always next year for that!).

Reducing extra stressors as much as I can. So many folks seem so busy during the holidays. A walk by the post office today showed a line 15 people long waiting to mail holiday cards and packages. Sometimes getting the decorations up can be more stressful than enjoyable. This season I’m working on decreasing stress as much as possible. I’m not doing Christmas cards (never have, but I LOVE getting yours so please keep me on your list). Truthfully I’m probably not going to send those care packages (sorry family). Any presents my kids get will probably not be wrapped very beautifully – what’s wrong with a brown Amazon box? I haven’t lived up to the vision I have for myself as a holiday baker, crafter, or gift giver, but that’s ok. After all – I’m the only one who had that vision.  This way everyone’s expectations of me are low enough that when I do even the smallest gesture of holiday cheer they’ll be awed – right family?

I’m trying to move towards what my babies need – which is always more of me – and let go of what I think I need this season. This season is practice for the next. Just like the holidays, this moment in time is fleeting – it will pass before I have time to enjoy it. If I can cut down on extraneous stressors and focus on the joys at hand I think I can capture the magic of the season. I’ll try to grab a cookie, some Christmas music, and a peppermint mocha along the way just to nourish my holiday spirit.

Whatever holiday your family celebrates I hope that you are finding ways to adjust your expectations, embrace where your family is at right now, and reduce extra stressors as much as possible. Small children can increase the magic and joy of the season. Little ones can also add a layer of stress to a busy time of year. This season, as a good enough parent, I’m turing my focus inward towards what the little ones need and want. I’m finding rituals and activities that bring me joy and calm and we are all looking forward to peaceful celebrations with friends and family.

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