I know Christmas (or “the holidays,” if you prefer) is supposed to be a time of joy and merriment and all that jazz, but for working moms, I think it feels more like you got a third full-time job dumped on you for a month or so.
I mean, you’ve got your day job that pays the bills. That’s 45+ hours a week right there (unless you’re part-time, shave off a few hours). Then there’s the round-the-clock mom/housekeeper/chef/chauffeur job, clocking in at 50+ hours a week or so (depends on if your kids sleep through the night and don’t get sick).
Then, you’re supposed to do all the Christmas stuff. You know the drill: buy and wrap gifts, send cute photo cards of the kids, decorate the house inside and out, bake cookies, do volunteer/charity stuff to help those in need, attend and host parties, take the kids to the various annual traditions around town, [insert your own Christmas tasks here] … How many hours a week is all that? And where on God’s earth do you find the time to accomplish it all?
This year, I started the holiday season with a different mindset than in previous years. Rather than dive in with a “perfect, do-it-all mom” mentality, I went with the “whatever works, it’s good enough” mentality. My main goals have been to save me money and time. So far, it’s working out pretty well.
A few examples:
- CARDS: I used to design a lovely photo card on Shutterfly.com, order 50+ cards, then stamp, address and write personal messages on all of them to send to friends and family. Cost: $150+, 15 hours. This year, I designed and sent a holiday photo e-card with Smilebox.com. Cost: $2.99 (to send the card ad-free), 2 hours.
- GIFTS: I used to spend a huge amount of time shopping and trying to find the perfect gift for every person on my list, then wrapping it with loving care (usually the night before Christmas Eve until 2 a.m.). Cost: Way more than it should have, a bajillion hours. This year, I’m buying all gift cards and putting them in cute, prewrapped boxes. (Sorry to blow the surprise, family members who read this. At least you’ll be surprised by where the gift card’s coming from!) Cost: A whole lot cheaper and easier to budget, 3 hours.
- DECORATIONS: I used to worry about our home being beautifully decorated in nearly every room, as well as lights outside–even if I had to do most or all of the work myself. Cost: Varied by year, 10 hours. This season, I chose only the decorations I truly like and focused on a couple of key areas where we spent the majority of our time. We hit Target last night to get a prelit small tree so I didn’t have to set up the nasty toilet brush tree and put all the half-burnt-out lights on it, along with a couple of other easy-decor items. Also, made Hubs help out. No outdoor stuff except a wreath–if he wants to do lights, he’s more than welcome! Cost: $150, 4 hours.
- ENTERTAINING: I used to worry about whether we hosted at least one family holiday function at our house, along with one or two friend-oriented parties or dinners. The actual cost was always high, and preparations and hosting took an enormous toll on my already-stressed out brain, body and budget. This year, we’re doing one thing: Christmas dinner. That’s it. But here’s the best part: it’s at my mom and dad’s house! All we have to do is cook. And when I say “we,” I mostly mean “Hubs.” Holiday cooking is his “thing.” Cost: $100, 6 hours.
That pretty much does it for my holiday “must-haves.” Everything else is optional. Delightfully optional. I can do it if I want to and have time and money for it. Or not. Plus, I’m taking off the entire week of Christmas and we’re not traveling anywhere, so I might actually be able to enjoy some of the holiday merriment I hear so much about. Looking forward to that.
If you’ve discovered some killer Christmas/holiday shortcuts to help you stay sane during this crazy season, please share them in the comments. Working moms can use all the help we can get!