I was sitting with my kids in the playroom of our house the other day, and like I do probably at least once a week I thought to myself “Wow my kids have WAY too many toys!” Then I started thinking about the toys they will be getting this Christmas from my husband and I, Santa, and all of our relatives… and like some of you I started to get overwhelmed. WARNING – real life photo ahead of our actual playroom and my kiddos.
It’s hard for me to share pictures of my playroom in all its glory. I have been trying to break my perfectionist habits, especially when it comes to my kid’s spaces. They are supposed to be messy. They are playing and learning, but you see so many perfectly manicured images of playrooms on social media it can be hard to accept anything less than perfection. But I wanted to share this picture with you all to show you that you are not alone in your mess.
There are certain things that I have found as I get older that stress me out more than others. The biggest one for me is clutter, mainly disorganization in general. So as I looked around at my messy, unorganized, overflowing playroom I decided the 10 presents we already had for the kids was going to be enough. 10 presents TOTAL for 2 kids, spent around $120 so they are not big gifts, and I decided I was done. Maybe because my kids are younger I am able to do minimal Christmas gifts, but I have been actively finding ways to keep Jesus the focus of this holiday season.
I digress… I wanted to do something more than just the usual give a bunch of gifts and call it a day (already working on an organizing game plan for the playroom, so stay tuned for that!). So, this is what I am focusing on giving my kids this year instead of buying any additional gifts:
A focus on giving back – It never ceases to amaze me that God puts me exactly where he wants me to be, when he wants me to be there. The same day I was thinking about how many new toys my kids will be getting for Christmas, I was in the mall with my mom and we walked by a giving tree. It is a local organization that has gift tags on a few Christmas trees, and you pick the tag of someone you want to buy a gift for. It has all age ranges, from newborn girls and boys to special needs adults. You have to return the gift with the assigned gift tag on it the weekend before Christmas, and they have these gifts available for people to pick from. I absolutely love this, and will be having my daughter come with me to pick out the gift and help me wrap it for the age group we picked. Although she’s 3, I want to instill in her now how important it is to give back when you are able.
Experiences are what make the season magical – I don’t know about you, but when I think back on my favorite Christmases, none of them are about what gift I got that year. I remember decorating Christmas cookies with my 3 siblings when I was young, and the Christmas concerts at elementary school. I remember one particular Christmas when my mom drove myself and my siblings from South Dakota to Colorado to see my grandparents in blizzard conditions for half of the trip. We made it safely to Colorado, but the fun of the road trip as a kid and spending time with my grandparents are what I remember most. I decided I am going to spend the money on gingerbread houses and baking supplies, going to Christmas festivals, volunteering in our community, and driving around in the car looking at Christmas lights drinking hot cocoa. These are the things I want my kids to remember.
Presence over Presents – I saw this during Christmas last year on my social media and I absolutely love this simple phrase. I have found myself going back to this phrase often this year, more than just during the Christmas season. The less I am focused on finding the perfect presents, buying those presents at the perfect price and wrapping them, the more time I have with my family. This year is the least stressful Christmas I have had in the last 5 years that I can remember, and I love it. I haven’t been able to get everything done as quickly as I wanted, but I am not stressed about any of it. It will all get done, and if it doesn’t that’s OK too. I have way higher expectations of the season than my kids do. If certain things don’t get done I will be the only one who knows it.
All of this boils down to one thing that I want to share – what you are doing is enough. If you want to buy your kids a bunch of gifts, do it! I am not judging anyone who chooses to spoil their kids with a bunch of gifts this Christmas, that is not my intention. Maybe you have older kids and splurged on getting them a tablet or phone this year, or maybe you can finally afford to buy your kids everything they want this year, and that is great! Just because I am choosing not to do that this year doesn’t mean I am judging or think anything is wrong with it (who’s to say I won’t be doing it in the coming years). This year I personally have just been craving simplicity as much as possible.
We put so much pressure on ourselves as parents, mainly all us moms, to give our kids the perfect Christmas. Your kids will think it’s perfect no matter what you buy them. Spend some time with them, watch a Christmas movie, go look at Christmas lights, play a game while drinking hot cocoa, put together a gingerbread house, the list goes on and on. What makes this season truly special, is slowing down and spending time with those you love most.