Hello mommas and welcome to Mommy Tell All Monday! Sara, our parenting and motherhood contributor, is back today and talking about balancing holiday traditions.
I love this time of year. The barely cold weather reminds me why I love Arizona, and my kids spend a ton of time outside allowing me to cook dinner in a little window of peace. And then the holidays . . . THE HOLIDAYS! For as long as I can remember the few weeks before Thanksgiving all the way until the New Year has always been filled with some of my favorite family memories. Not because our family was traveling or doing something extra special, but because we had traditions that we did every year. I always knew what to expect each Holiday and there was simply zero stress in what some might call a stressful time of year.
About nine years ago my husband started to celebrate the holidays with me. It was great, he joined a few of our traditional meals and the church services we were a part of but then he threw me a little of course when he asked me to come over for some of his family traditions. That’s when the stress was added. Early into our marriage we spent the holidays trying to find a rhythm between our two families. I came with three celebrations, immediate family, cousins and dad’s side. He came with a single mom so it was a little easier, but that meant we had a father in law back in Michigan that we would fly out to here and there. Eventually we had to make some sacrifices and even say NO to some of my favorite traditions, but finding a balance with my husband was important to me.
Jump ahead a few years later and add CHILDREN into the mix. It was all nice and easy the first year with a two month old that we could just carry to each holiday event and family gathering. Then by the time she was one at Thanksgiving we were fostering a brother and sister and then by Christmas that year the other siblings had gone home and we were fostering two brothers. Three kids changes plans. I have found that jumping from house to house with children is super stressful. By the time you pack everything needed, get strapped in, drive, get unstrapped, make their plates, mingle a little while you keeping an eye on them and then go get strapped back in the car to head to the next house . . . it became too much. My husband noticed that even before we left the house I had terrible anxiety about how the day would go. Some of the days that I looked forward to the most had become the ones that I was afraid of.
It was an easy solution. All we needed to do was shift our traditions and agenda again. Except I couldn’t bring myself to adjust things yet, I just didn’t feel like the words tradition and change should even go together. More importantly, I didn’t want to let my Mom down. For my entire life she had built such wonderful traditions for my brother and I and to continue changing those traditions each year felt like I was taking those special expectations away from my her. Except that I was a Momma now too, with my own little family, kids that I needed to start traditions for. I have learned the hard way that if keeping a tradition is more stressful than fun, its not worth it. With new kids added to our family each year over the last four holidays our traditions had to change. When I call my mom each year to talk about what is going to be best for my family and our time, she works with me. It turns out that she doesn’t mind changing the traditions either as long as our family is able to be together at some point. I had to remind myself that I’m the Momma, and she is now Nana, instead of worrying about letting her down (because I won’t) I need to focus on creating stress free traditions for my kids just like she did for me when I was young.
Are you already planning your Thanksgiving meal? Which house you will celebrate at or if you will have a few meals with people instead of one large one? Have you already purchased some Christmas presents? Do you know what you’ll be doing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Is it something that YOU want to do or what’s expected of you? Momma, let go of those holiday expectations that are on your shoulders. Make your own expectations for your little family and work the other things around what is best for all of you, your nap times and your drive time. When you say yes because you want to please everyone, you end up with crying kids in the back of your car at the end of the night. Trust me. And if you start to feel bad about changing some traditions, go drink some eggnog. Eggnog makes everything better.