“Children!  Get your shoes on!  Oh, Ethan, did you forget socks again?  Please go get some socks—it’s cold outside!  Grace, when you do somersaults after I do your hair, it gets all messed up.  Now I have to brush it again.  Please bring me the brush.  How did the floor get covered in muffin crumbs?  Didn’t I just sweep this floor?”  As any mother of busy children, I could type on and on and on.

This is a small sample of what ejected from my mouth the other day as I was trying to get all of the children out the door. Where did I need to go?  To the craft store…to buy garland for our banister…to make our home look homey and festive…so my children would feel the “holiday spirit” in our home.

Fortunately, the irony of the situation hit me before I could get any more perturbed, so we made some changes to the day’s itinerary and decided instead to stay home, pop some popcorn, and listen to some of our favorite Christmas songs.  The mood in the house immediately changed for the better, and I decided that our staircase will look just fine “sans garland” this year (not that I have to abandon every errand when things don’t run perfectly, but in this case, the garland was not worth the effort).

When I am frustrated by the messes and pandemonium surrounding my home and family, the source of the stress is usually me: I am either tired, unorganized, overly-aware of my imperfections, worried about something, or all of the above.  Sometimes in an effort to do what I think my family needs (like hang garland), I forget that the very nicest gift I can give my children is a happy mother.

Throughout the past few weeks, I have found some ways to keep the happy side of me around more often.  After all, the best gifts are for keeps—not given and taken back again and again.  The most helpful solutions for me have been to simplify, to redefine “good mother,” and to savor the moments when I truly feel happy.

Question: Do you feel the holidays take over the craziness in your home?

Challenge: Try to cutback on “things” and add more “moments” to this holiday season.

*photo courtesy of Microsoft Office Image

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