Stress-free Christmas? Make a list.

In an era where we bounce from excess to gratefulness and back again, it’s hard to just enjoy Christmas and buy gifts for our kids when we can, if we can. We feel bad, then we feel good and none of it matters on Christmas morning.

In an effort to stay sane throughout the season, my husband and I did what anyone would do to stay calm…we took all three kids into the city and did all of our Christmas shopping…in November. With them. Together. In one day. And we’re DONE! And we didn’t lose our minds!

I admit, not for everyone. And probably the last year we can say: “Turn around! What’s that over there?!” while we purchase their gifts behind their backs…they’re probably going to catch on soon. But overall, with a little planning (and a lot of lists)…we did it all. And I feel awesome.

Yes, there were times we thought…maybe this wasn’t the best idea…and we said things like: “Come back here!”, “I said WALK.” and “Once it hits the floor it’s garbage…ewwwww.”. We DID NOT sing Christmas Carols all the way to the city (a two hour drive)…we DID put a movie on in the car. Preparedness everyone! Our two year old got grumpy (not cute like a grumpy cat grumpy) when her nap didn’t happen but all in all, I would say this trip was a success!

I should start by saying we kept things slim. All of our children are under six and we bought them a few things each. It’s easy to buy them a lot, or want to buy them a lot. Admit it-it’s FUN to spoil them. But we leave that to the Grandparents…and get them a few things. We plan in advance what we’re going to buy (list!). Honestly, we decide what one child wants and then buy three of them to prevent fights. Everyone’s happy!

The first thing to stay sane: Lists. They keep everything in check and there is something incredibly satisfying about crossing things off a list. Next, realize you are not going to eat exactly how you want all day. We’re out and about so we take advantage of that. We brought some treats for the car (These included some fruit, some crackers and some leftover Halloween treats) and used them as bribes. I’m not beyond that. “Be good in this store and you get a treat.” BOOM. They were good. Awesome. Totally worth it.

We got some sandwiches for lunch…with chocolate milk. Another bribe treat. Oh and we took them to a ball pit. They were in the car for a while, so they needed to burn off some energy! Treat? Yup. We planned the day around the kids and the stores we needed to frequent, and by the end of the day, they were tired…but that’s when we unleashed them on friends in town!

And then ordered pizza from a local pizzeria….yum! Thank you friends!

We live by the 80/20 principle (eat well 80% of the time, so you can live your life realistically with the other 20%)…and it’s possible we used up most of our 20% on this one day. But it wasn’t stressful and we got things crossed off the list. YAY!

Now I just have to get the tree up! And the lights…and the wreaths…I need to make another list…