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I haven’t spoken much about my family on my blog. I have been busily adding various pieces of information to help women, especially, be healthier to be able to do all the things that are important to them. The logistics of having a large family can be overwhelming at times, but I think much can be learned and translated to families that are smaller. Since the holidays are fast approaching, I thought I would start with a few things that have worked well for us over the years to manage the holidays with a large family and still do the healthy things you want to do. I have some tips to manage your stress through the holidays so you can take good care of you.
Many of the articles on my blog talk about some time saving tools and appliances as well as self care, nutrition, and being active. All of those are important to enjoy your life, but sometimes you have to make sure the basics are covered before you add in too many other things.
Since school is in session or soon will be for the kids, let’s start looking at some things you can start doing to get ready for the upcoming holidays so you are not flying by the seat of your pants in November and December. Start early so there is less stress for your holidays.
1. Have a plan for where you will be
It is important to have a plan in place for how you will manage your holidays. If you spend time with extended family during that time, decide where you will be for each of those holidays. Will you be hosting? If so, how many people will be coming and for how long? Will they be able to help with some of the meals and activities or will it all be on you? That will help you know if they can bring or prepare a dish. If you are going somewhere, you can offer to bring some veggie side dishes to make sure you keep up your habits.
As our family grew, we rarely traveled for the holidays. We did spend a few Christmases and Thanksgivings at other family homes, but as we grew, it became more difficult. Plus my family is in PA so we would have to consider the weather. Now, my oldest and her husband travel to us for Christmas. The rest of the kids live nearby, for now. This past year, I was wanting to go really simple for meals, so my daughter actually took over and organized Christmas dinner to give me a break. That is the joy in raising kiddos that can do for others and organize.
2. Consider how you will celebrate
Does your family have big elaborate celebrations or will it be simpler? There is nothing wrong with elaborate celebrations, just decide how it will work for you. I am all about making something work for you. If simple is better, go for it. Ask your family for ideas and suggestions. Decide on some traditions that you might like to continue through the years. We started buying ornaments each year for each of the kids so they would have a collection.
3. Limit gifts or draw names to have a “Secret Santa”
As our kids got older, the gifts they wanted got more expensive. We tried to buy items they wanted and would use. We began limiting to an amount that we could afford per kid. I know other families that choose to give 3 gifts to their children. Others have used want, need, wear, read rule. A couple of Christmases ago, since most of my kids have jobs now and are older, we tried drawing names so we could limit the amount we would spend. As you can imagine, with 8 kids and some of them with spouses or significant others, it can get expensive. Remember, it is the time you spend that is most important. Those gifts will often be forgotten a few years from now, but the memories you make will be priceless. Consider a family gift or giving gifts to a family in need. Allow the kids to participate in the shopping for that other family.
4. Start your shopping early
I know it is early in the year, but if you have ideas of what your kids or others that you may be giving gifts to would like to have, start setting aside money or even start your shopping early. Consider your budget so you don’t need to borrow or use credit for the items. Have a place to store the items, but remember where you put them and who they are for. If you can, wrap them as you buy so you can keep up.
At one point, I had to make a rule for my kids because when I would shop early, I would have presents stored. I had to tell them that they could not snoop-wrapped or unwrapped, or they would not receive the present. Of course, there is always that one kid who wants to defy you, to see if you really mean it. That kid ended up with underwear in the box of shoes that he had wanted for Christmas. The look was priceless. He did get the green Converse shoes he wanted, but I think he learned to not snoop.
5. Prep some meals ahead to decrease your stress level
The holidays often mean we are busier. We have shopping to do. Parties or gatherings to attend. All of that means meals may be less than nutritious because we run through the drive thru or we eat way more than we should at the gathering. Plan and prep a few meals ahead of time. Freezer meals are great to have on hand that you can place in your slow cooker or Instant Pot. If you will be going to a party, have a small healthy snack before going so you are not famished. Be sure to eat lots of veggies. You could even grab a rotisserie chicken plus a veggie tray at the stores so you feel like it is better.
Having meals prepped and planned can make dinnertime easier. You can also plan extras for lunches. Having a few breakfast ideas prepped and cooked can help getting out the door in the morning, too.
Here is an article about meal prep along with tools and appliances to use for cooking.
Don’t forget my resource library. It has lots of planning pages to help manage your day to day life. I will be adding more resources over the coming weeks.
If you are feeling really stressed, don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help.
Don’t forget to pin for reading later.
What will you do to help manage your stress during the holidays?