How to create a station the night before so your mornings can be grab and go.
I know, I know, it's not even Halloween and I'm talking holiday shopping. I'm the first to complain when I see Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving. I am all about giving each holiday it's due. Plus now that I have a child that can actually anticipate holidays, I don't need him pestering about presents so far in advance.
On the other hand, there is no logic to cramming all that shopping into the month of December. I mean with so many other holiday things to do like holiday parties and visiting Santa, who can possibly do all that and not stress?! Not I. For me, slow and steady wins the race. So, here are some tips on how I keep holiday shopping stress free.
If you haven’t started yet, start now. There are two big benefits to this; time and money. Starting early means you have months to get your shopping done instead of weeks. No pushing your way through over crowded stores. No running around on Christmas Eve. No rushing from store to store because what you want is sold out. Expense wise, you get to spread the cost of the holidays over multiple months prior to the holidays. Unlike spreading the cost over multiple months after holidays, this method does not involve paying interest.
Make a list
Make a list but only be super specific when you have to be. For example, Tyler is at an age where he wants specific things. He wants to complete his collection of Ghostbusters mystery minis, and he wants certain Lego sets. Items for him are very specific. Hailey on the other hand is unable to voice her opinions. Therefore, her list might look more like: clothes, stuffed animal, educational toy. For my brother I might write model train equipment. Then anytime I find model train equipment on sale, I can buy him something and check him off my list. The less specific you can be for people, the better. Then you have a broader range of options and can find better deals. Of course, you want it to still be something they would want/need and like.
Put your list into a spread sheet
Make a spreadsheet listing each person or group of people you need to buy gifts for in the first column. For example, individuals I need to buy gifts for include, my hubs, Tyler and Hails, my nephews, my mom, my brother, etc.. Groups might be my aunt and uncle, Tyler’s teachers, etc. In the next column list what you plan on purchasing them. If they are getting more than one item, make a new row for each item. The next 3 columns are as follows: bought, wrapped, delivered/shipped. You could of course do this by hand, but I love the clean look of spreadsheets! Print out your completed list and bring it with you wherever you go. If you are not sure what to get someone, leave their line blank. You can fill it in when you get inspired. Now anytime you find something that someone on your list would like, you can check it off your list. No more over buying because you forgot you already got something. This also keeps track of your wrapping so you won’t get behind on that either. Check out my sample spreadsheet below. Note that this is not my actual list incase these people are reading my blog…
Make 2 lists for your kids
If you have been through any gift giving occasion with kids before, you know you will be bombarded with questions from relatives of what to get your kids. Be prepared. Once you make the list of things that you will be getting your kids yourself, make a second list of things that they want or need. Keep this second list with you as well or give it to your husband, but not both. You need to have a designated go to person for this list. You don’t want both parents giving items out because the whole purpose here is to avoid multiples of the same gift. Now when someone asks what to get your kids, your go to person can give them items from your list. Be aware that these people may not necessarily get the item you suggest to them, but you can hopefully prevent multiples of the same gift. You also avoid the texts back and forth “did you get so and so this?”, “No, OK then I’m getting it”, “OK so then what should I get them now?”…. You can always hold onto the list and if your kids didn’t get the item for Christmas, now you already have a list for their birthday!
I hope you find this list helpful! Do you have tips to reduce holiday shopping stress?? If so leave your tips in the comments!
Being a working mom is hard. Being a stay at home mom is hard too. However, since I am not a stay at home mom, I don't really have as much insight into that lifestyle. I do however, have experience as a working mom and I have learned a lot about how to stress less and enjoy both work and family. The following will be a 3 part series of tips for working moms. These tips are key for enjoying being a working mom and finding balance in your life. Here are the first 3 tips to help ease the stress of being a working mom. These 3 relate to your time at work.
1. Stop Feeling Guilty
It is so easy to feel guilty about being away from your home and your kids. When your kids are young, you have guilt about missing out on their new discoveries and their activities each day. As they get older you fell guilt about not being able to go on every class trip or having to send them to an after school program. The thing is, this guilt does nothing for you, or your kids. In order to combat this guilt, here is a quick project you can do that can help you again and again. Take out your phone and in the notes section make a list of all the benefits to your family that you provide by being a working mom. I'll start you out:
- You are helping provide for your family financially
- You are providing an example of a strong, hardworking woman
- You are able to have balance with adult time and kids time
- You are able to appreciate your time with your kids that much more
- Daughters of working moms are more likely to obtain more education and get higher paying jobs
- Sons of working moms are more likely to help around the house and be attentive to their children
- You are less likely to lose your identity due to your children
You can feel free to continue this list with the financial, practical and emotional benefits of being a working mom. Whenever you are feeling guilty about being at work and missing time with the kids, you can pull out your list and really read it. Remind yourself of how important it is that you are a working mom and what benefits you are providing to your family.
2. Find a job/company that matches your priorities
When you first graduate and start looking for a job, you might jump at the first company willing to hire you. You may accept longer hours or a longer commute or any other countless minor inconveniences that are simply not as important when you are young and single. My first full time job was in NJ while I lived in the Bronx, NY. The commute was ridiculous, but I liked the job, my co workers, and my pay.
However, as I approached getting married and starting a family I knew my priorities would be changing, so I started looking for a new job. I found a position still in my field but much closer to home. Instead of spending 2.5-3 hours of my day commuting, I now commute 20-30 minutes a day. In fact, I work so close to home that I go home for lunch most days. My current company also has more days off and summer Fridays. They prioritize family and allow me to take time off to do things with the kids without feeling guilty about missing a day of work.
Every company and every field of work is different. Not every job will have the benefits my job does and my job has its drawbacks as well. There are a few occasions where I can be called out to work after hours or on weekends. This is rare, but it does happen. You should find a job that works best for you and your family.
3. Limit distractions at home and at work
When you are in the office, it is easy to get distracted from your work. You want to catch up on the latest gossip or discuss the last episode of the Walking Dead. Sometimes you might get distracted by social media. It is important to limit these distractions as much as possible. Now I'm not saying you need to be anti-social and never bond with your co-workers, but pick and choose when you will do it.
Say a quick good morning to everyone when you come in and then get down to business. Chat with your co-workers at lunch or after you have completed a major task as a quick break. Set a timer on your phone to vibrate after a few minutes to remind yourself to get back to work. An important part of maintaining work life balance is ensuring that you can complete your work during the work day. This allows you to maximize your time with your family at home.
My boss works on weekends and late nights a lot. He's single and lives by himself. While he does have a heavy workload, some of it he does to himself. He will regularly sit and chat with people about the amount of work he has to do, or run to the store for coffee when we have a coffee maker here. If getting your work done during the work day is a priority, then you need to limit your distractions so that you can do just that.
Limiting distractions is also important at home. When spending time with your kids, you want to give them your undivided attention. Checking a quick email or social media account is not the end of the world, but try to limit this as much as possible to when the kids are asleep.
I will acknowledge that this is not always possible. For example, I generally try to do my grad school homework after bedtime, but when it's finals time, sometimes I need a little extra study time. This might cut into family time a bit. It happens. Let's just try to ensure that it doesn't become a habit.
An important task for working moms is to make sure our kids know that they are our priority. Work is for work and home is for family. When we are at home, family is the priority and work is the distraction. We should never allow our kids to feel like its the other way around.
I hope that you found these tips helpful. The next set of tips will be coming on Friday and they will revolve around practical things you can do to maximize your enjoyment of family time. I will see you then!
P.S. You can find Part 2 of this Series here.