I’m talking to you. I’m talking about the vacation you didn’t take and...
Elf on the Goshdang Shelf.
Epic advent calendars.
Plus the book advent (it’s real).
Thoughtful consideration and celebration of other culture’s holiday traditions (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Yule, Epiphany).
The winter bucket list.
Pajama train/Polar Express.
Christmas Tree Lane (or similar decor-seeking outing).
I’m sure you can add more.
Every time you open Facebook or Instagram you risk feeling like an abject failure. This is true every day of the year, but never more than around the holidays when all the other seemingly more with it mothers are dressing their kids in matching faire isle and patent leather Mary Janes and taking photos with a guy that looks like actual Santa.
There are two ways to see this abundance of things to do around this time of year.
1. What a wonderful opportunity to get out and do some fun things!
2. What a fricking nightmare. It’s not enough I have to shop for gifts and do holiday cards and bake and cook and decorate and try to keep my kids from killing one another for the three weeks they are out of school, now I have to do 200 other things to keep them entertained/make the holiday extra special/look good on social media.
I’m firmly in Camp 2.
I would love to be in Camp 1, but let’s be real, being a parent is hard without any extracurriculars. It’s not that all of The Things aren’t wonderful chances to be together as a family/have a great time/make memories, it’s just that there is already SO much to do.
As your fellow mother in arms, I’m here to act as your Anti-Guilt Facilitator. Just for today, either pretend I’m your therapist (which means pretend I am in some way qualified to give this advice) or just pretend that being a mom for 22 years has taught me something about the effect of guilt.
So here are some things you should know:
Of course every time you open Facebook or Instagram you are seeing people doing amazing things. You know why every time you open Facebook or Instagram you are seeing people doing amazing things?
Because people doing amazing things post pictures of themselves. EVERYWHERE. ALL THE TIME.
No one posts pictures of their kids still in pjs watching their fourth hour of TV at 2 pm. No one shares images of their disaster of a house, and when they do it usually feels contrived. Like they definitely threw some trash on the floor to make it look messy but only messy, not littered in filth. We just don’t see moms like “we’ve eaten mac and cheese three times today and I haven’t made a single batch of royal icing.”
Your kids won’t remember all the crap you do anyway. I spent like a million dollars taking my kids to Disney World in 2005. Guess what they remember? Poking each other with sticks covered in jellyfish venom in Key West (which, to be fair, they only remember because it was excruciating).
Your kids will remember SOME of the things, but I promise you, if you don’t make eight dozen expertly decorated Pinterest-worthy cookies, they will not hold it against you. Maybe today they will complain, but in five years they will have completely forgotten, and in 15 years they will apologize for being jerks.
What kids do remember is time. Just hang out with them. Watch Elf or The Grinch. Have some hot cocoa. Don’t make it from scratch, for god's sake. Just get the box of Swiss Miss for like $1.50. If you want to be extra, make it with milk and use marshmallows. Decorate cookies if you want. But give yourself permission to buy sugar cookies and a can of Duncan Hines from the grocery store. Are they grain-free, gluten-free, non GMO, vegan, made with the tears of a unicorn? No.
Does it matter? Also no.
Do you like Elf on the Shelf and trying to come up with a new and more mischievous elvin act every night? Great, do that. Does that sound like a creepy pain in the ass to you? Don't do it.
Drive around in the car and look at other people’s decorations if you like. But if being trapped in the car with three kids elbowing each other and whining about how they want French fries from McDonalds feels like a special kind of torture to you, don’t. Just don’t.
I know it feels like you’re not doing enough for your kids but that’s only because the world is designed to make you feel insufficient in every way possible. I promise you, you are doing enough.
It’s 11 am. My kids are still in their pjs. They spent two collective hours watching YouTube videos this morning because I have a job I have to do and no babysitter. They are fed. They are (mostly, but often not) happy. They may not even put clothes on at all today. I may not even care.