The Holidays With Your Baby

For as long as I can remember I have never really been one who has been excited about the holidays. In this day and age, everything seems to come with a hefty price tag and December is already the month with a few birthdays for me so it kind of ruins the whole month for me.

I am basically the Grinch.

Having children really changes your outlook on things. Now, as a mom, I found a new sense of excitement surrounding the holidays. There is something so special about getting to watch your child experience things for the first time. I find myself getting giddy just thinking about watching her tear open wrapping paper, or see anything new. With that in mind, Christmas was different for me this year.

Last year, my daughter was here but she was so new that that feeling wasn’t quite there. We gave her any gifts we bought as we bought them last year because most of her gifts were things we hoped would make everything easier for us; swings, playmats, activity seats etc. Anything that would give us ten minutes where we could just sit, watching her from across the room was something we didn’t want to give her. We were exhausted new parents.

This year she was a toddler, walking around. She knew who Santa was in a sense from seeing him at the mall and watching little videos of him. Sure, she couldn’t fully comprehend the idea of Christmas, but she could participate in it this year which was a game changer.

The gifts were still things we hoped would keep her busy, but we actually waited until Christmas morning for her to open then. We got to see her walk around the corner and look at the Christmas tree with wrapped gifts under them. We got to hear her say her signature catch phrase (one we hear about a thousand times a day) “What’s that?” as she slowly walked towards her Bounce Barnyard Animal.

It was enough to put up with all the stress that goes along with Christmas.

As a mom, I do reach out to a lot of moms. I have a mom app that I regularly use to chat with other moms. Around the holidays, it really opens your eyes to the struggle a lot of parents are going through. There are so many parents who think the dollar amount is what makes up Christmas. They think they have to spend X amount for their children to enjoy the holidays, and let me tell you, they couldn’t be more wrong about this. Especially in younger children.

I have a friend who chooses her son’s favourite toys and wraps them for Christmas. Why? Because she knows he loves those toys, and she knows half of the excitement of these holidays is just opening things, regardless of what’s beneath that ornate paper. She buys him one larger gift, and then things he needs like PJs, socks, toiletries etc. Then she wraps two or three of his favourite toys. Every year (she has been doing this for three years and he is four now) he opens it and his eyes light up. He doesn’t care that he’s already seen those toys a thousand times before. He just knows they make him happy and he’s happy to see them again.

I do think this is a wonderful thing to do around Christmas because it makes your kids appreciate the things they already have without really breaking the bank.

Looking back on my own childhood, my mom was a single mom of 5 so splurging on gifts wasn’t really in the cards. That being said, I can’t remember a single year when I felt we didn’t get more than enough.

Utilize things like the dollar stores to fill stockings. What did doesn’t like holiday themed candies and chocolates, colouring books, and even picture books? All of these things can be found at the dollar store without breaking the bank.

My go-to gifts for most kids (including my own) is always books. My daughter can sit with a pile of books for half the day. So anytime a new book comes into our house she is in heaven. Places like thrift stores often sell books for as little as $1.49/book with the 5th book being free. These books are often in amazing condition and some are even donated by libraries and bookshops.

It’s really easy to make Christmas affordable if you try.

Something my mother still does is buy gifts throughout the year. I know our gift (a personalized Sherpa blanket) was purchased in April. Certain things will always be great gifts. Buy things throughout the year and put them away so the holidays don’t feel like such a big financial hit.

If I am being totally honest, the best gift I received this year was the photos I got to take of my daughter and husband opening gifts. I could have got nothing this year and that would have been enough.

Some of the best gifts come without tags.

Really try to implement family into your holidays. Make it more about time than gifts. I think that is the best gift you can give your child around the holiday… your presence.

I am hoping to make these posts more of a regular thing, until next time guys I’ll just be around… pretending I know what I am doing.

The Aftermath Of The Holidays

Christmas lights were hung, halls were decked, stockings were filled, presents were wrapped. The pre-Christmas season, excluding the hustle and bustle, is kind of serene. Everything is neat, everything is tidy, everything is kind of like a dream or a wish.

After Christmas is a completely different feel. There are pieces of wrapping paper and cardboard from torn boxes everywhere. The sight of the Christmas tree is a reminder that you are going to have to go through the trouble of taking it down, sooner rather than later. There is a stack of gifts that have no place sitting in plain view, a reminder that you will have to organize as well.

The holidays leave behind a chaos most people don’t really talk about. There are toys that need batteries, toys that need to be returned because they don’t work the way they should, confusing gifts you have no idea what to do with. The fridge is full of leftovers you don’t want to throw away but you know you will have to.

The days between December 26th and January 2nd are a blur. You never quite know what day of the week it is, where you are supposed to be, or what you are supposed to be doing.

This year, my husband and I were smart. We usually have two holiday celebrations; one with my family on Christmas Day that is a little bit more traditional. The big family running around, kids screaming, the turkey and the stuffing. Gift exchange, cheesy games, all that fun stuff. We also have a second celebration with his aunt and uncle who are his only family that live here in the city with us.

My husband’s holiday work schedule is torturous. Last year he had three days off, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day. This year he only had Christmas Day off. Which meant he was going to do more running around than he would like if we were going to do both celebrations.

We did the small celebrations with his aunt and uncle on the 17th, which meant he could spend what little time he had close and around Christmas with his baby girl, the only Christmas gift we really wanted this year.

I’ve had to check the date today three times, because I am still in that wormhole. I kept telling myself I would put things away these past few days, but I haven’t. Today, my daughter and I are wrapped up on blankets on the couch because she is a little under the weather.

I started writing this blog entry thinking maybe I would offer some tips and guidance on how to get things done during the holiday aftermath, however, I don’t have any. For parents, this may be some rare time you have when you are off from work and your children are home from school. My advice would be: enjoy it!

Do all the things you wish you could do with your kids when your schedule is full. Go for walks, play outside, just spend quality time together and ignore the chaos Christmas left behind. There will be time enough to deal with all that later.

Happy Holidays!

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