Ever since my stepdaughter entered my life, I’ve felt a larger amount of stress as we neared the holidays. Of course, when my son was born, that stress multiplied. Now we had 2 kids to wow at Christmas, Easter and on their birthdays. We had two costumes to make or buy at Halloween. We had more mouths to feed. We had more stuff to make room for. It all seemed so much to bear during a time that was supposed to be happy.
Our First Christmas as a Family of Four
I would be lying if I said that our first Christmas as a family of four didn’t drive me crazy. I literally broke down in tears because I felt like I was somehow ripping him off by spending more money on my stepdaughter that year. I remember arguing with my significant other, who swore up and down that it was okay to spend more on her because he was a baby and didn’t know any better. That was the first time I ever felt like I was being unfair as a parent and I absolutely hated it with every fiber of my being.
In fact, without my significant other’s knowledge, I secretly put $250 aside to add to his savings account. Yes, it was THAT big of a difference. If it were only $10, I wouldn’t have felt so compelled to even the score. Besides, look at this adorable face and tell me that you wouldn’t have felt guilty about spending less on him. Could you?
Getting him all ready for Christmas was fun though. I remember looking for holiday outfits to show him off in. I saw a very cute holiday baby elf costume, but daddy wanted to dress him up like a baby Santa instead. After much deliberation, I let daddy have his way and we purchased the Santa outfit. And, well, he did look adorable! Of course, I’m biased, so I think he would have looked adorable in any outfit we put him in.
Overcoming Holiday Stress
Since that first Christmas as a family of four, we’ve learned to go with the flow. We’ve set spending limits for our gifting and we try not to let the holidays stress us out as much as they used to. If we have to revisit spending limits to fit our budget for each year, we do. We don’t always have to spend the same amount each year. After all, the holidays aren’t supposed to be about what you give or what you get. They’re supposed to be about enjoying the time you have with those you love.
I can say, without a doubt, that I’ve definitely enjoyed the holiday season a lot more the past few years and I’ve tried not to let the stress of the holiday shopping madness get to me. In fact, I did almost all of my holiday shopping online this year, just like 49.9% of holiday shoppers. This was the first year I opted to do most of my shopping online and, I have to admit, it was a breeze. I would still prefer to shop in-store for clothing and such, but I definitely like being able to shop from the comfort of my home.
Another thing my family and extended family has started doing to help reduce the stress of the holidays is to make our holiday dinner get-togethers more of a potluck style meal. This way, one person isn’t tasked with the huge chore of preparing a a giant meal alone. Of course, things can get a little crazy when you’re hosting a potluck dinner. For those of you that have never tried a potluck holiday dinner or have, but don’t have it down-pat yet, there are several resources you can use to find helpful holiday potluck dinner tips for you and your guests.
Above all, keep in mind that the holidays don’t have to be perfect. Why? Because we aren’t! Don’t stress over the small stuff. If your dog unwraps a present or two, the cat gets tangled up in the Christmas lights or grandma falls asleep at dinner, try to catch it on video. I’m sure it will be the next YouTube sensation 😉