“It’s the most wonderful tiiiime of the year”…sure, yes, okay. But also, it’s the craziest. The absolute busiest. And sometimes, the most mom-guilt-riddled time of the year, for those of us who find ourselves up to our ears in holiday “to do” lists and social engagements. It can be hard to carve out time to connect with our kids on a good day, but free time is especially sparse during this most treasured season- here’s how to make the most of those precious minutes.
Rediscover Childlike Wonder
You’re putting the finishing touches on those darn Christmas cards you meant to order early for once this year, and you notice some snowflakes falling outside your bedroom window? Take a break for a second, grab your kid, and have a contest to see who can catch the most snowflakes on their tongue in five minutes! I can guarantee those few moments you spared will not only brighten your day in the midst of all the hubbub, but your child will be tickled at that quick little glimpse of Mom being silly like a kid again.
Bake a Cake
Or brownies, or cupcakes. Heck, make homemade trail mix if that’s more your style. Whatever it is- the point isn’t to labor over some elaborate dessert. Grab a $4 box of cake mix on your next grocery store run and just spend a little bit of time making something sweet with your kiddos. Let them crack some eggs, spill some flour, and help clean up. It’s not about perfection, just connection.
Count Your Blessings
Remember making those paper countdown chains as a kid? They were such a fun way to visually see how many days were left until some special event, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or even someone’s birthday! All you need is some construction paper (even better if you can find holiday colors), some scissors and a stapler. Cut strips and staple them into interlocking loops, making as many as there are days left until the big event. To inject some more connection into this easy craft, I like to have each child write something or someone they’re thankful for on each loop, so they can share it with the family when it’s time to take one off the countdown.
Another great way to teach your kids those valuable life lessons when you’re short on time is to focus on serving others. It’s as simple as writing gratitude cards together for the people that mean the most to you in your lives. They don’t need to be full essays or anything, a simple note explaining how much “Gran-Gran” or “Aunt Betty” means to your family will suffice. It requires only a few minutes, some printer paper and some colorful markers or gel pens. You could pick up a festive pack of stickers to slap on there so the littlest members of the family can contribute, as well.
You’ve got holiday errands scheduled all day, sports in the evening, dinner on the road, and everyone’s exhausted by bedtime. I feel you. As a homeschooling mom, my entire day 24/7 is spent teaching, refereeing fights, and shuttling around four little kids. By bedtime I’m ready to lock my bedroom door and
cry in my shower put my pajamas on. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: once I discovered how much more connected I felt to my kids when I started reading them chapter books at night (not the whole thing in one sitting, let’s not be crazy), I seem to always have just enough energy to make sure we cross that off our list. Just a chapter a night of an engaging story has been such a joy for our family. Right now we’re reading The Chronicles of Narnia and it’s so much fun to see my children engage and light up during that pre-bedtime story.
If none of these ideas float your boat, that’s okay too! I’m not here to add on to your mom guilt list, I just want to inspire you to look for those small moments, those precious pockets of time that we get each day and prioritize yourself and your family- I promise it’s worth it.