The snow is falling, I have a cup of hot cocoa daily, and our awesome pre-lit tree is up. Cue the Bing Crosby because it’s truly beginning to look at lot like Christmas. But, even though there is a lot that’s familiar about this season, this holiday is also shaping up to be incredibly different this time around. A little something has been added to our familial equation…

The holiday season starts off nice and slow with warm feelings abound, because I realized that a little childlike wonderment would be added to our Christmas. But, slowly, the pace starts to pick up around this week because, after glancing at my to-do list, I recognized there is much more to do.  

There is a seemingly endless list of people for whom to shop, all the parties, meeting familial obligations, keeping the hubby happy, trying to keep a semi-clean house, stupid Secret Santas, avoiding the hell hole of the mall, trying not to get killed by the way-too-intense holiday shoppers, staying off the snow riddled streets, nevermind all the end-of-year projects that need finishing up at work before the holiday break.  And, oh, by the way, in the middle of all this, my precious Itty Bitty has a massive snot filled cough spouting cold – whew!  In the words of Ron Burgundy, “boy that escalated quickly.  I mean that really got outta hand fast.”  

Ultimately, I’ve found (and I’m sure most of you probably already knew this waaaay before me) juggling the holiday season with a new baby can be as fast paced as the Polar Express rushing its way to the North Pole. 

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be! 

Take a breath, make yourself a delicious cup of hot cocoa (what the hell, add some Baileys -ok, alot – to that cup. You’ve earned it), sit down, take a sip or five, put your feet up and know that you are not alone.  

Take my advice on how to slow it all down.  (You might as well, because I sure as heck haven’t been doing it 🙂    I’ve compiled 5 tips to help make your holiday season a little less stressful, and hopefully – a bit more merry – for you and your family!

1. Remember What This Season Is About  – 

Try to live by The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them to do to you.”  Whether you’re religious or not (Christian or otherwise), take a page out of J.C.’s book. This is not a plea to be all Christian all of a sudden, cause god knows I’m far from religious.  But, this is a call for common courtesy and human decency.  The holidays are stressful enough. So, just for fun, try this mantra out for a week or so. Be nice. Smile. Hold the door open for someone. Call a friend you haven’t spoken with in a while. Write letters to family.  Let someone else have that last “must-have” gift of the season on the shelf.  There is actually a study out there that links kindness to happiness and health. Seriously. So focus on being kind this season.

2. Simplify

I’m not Supermom.  Chances are, you’re probably not either.  That’s not a dig, it’s just a fact.  Why?  Supermoms only exist in fantasy land.  There about as real as Santa riding a unicorn to visit bigfoot having tea with the Lochness Monster.  You do not need to recreate Pinterest masterpieces, despite how simple the creators may say they are. That beautiful Amuse Bouche you saw on The Food Channel you’ve been dying to recreate for your mother-in-law?  Time to go the way of the dodo bird. That Christmas party you have faithfully held for sixty of your good (and not so good) friends/family every year?  Let some other Martha Stewart sycophant have a go at it.  In other words, if it takes time, and it stresses you out, hit the skip button. Instead, read a book to your baby, or sing a song and dance with them. 

Trust me, the kid, or your spouse, will not resent you for not making a construction paper wreath out of their handprints or jolly old ornaments. If, however, you feel so inclined to rock out with your crafty self, then by all means – craft away! Just know that the most important thing to your baby this holiday season is sharing love with you.  Not that that stupid photo you had to recreate of him holding the Christmas lights surrounded by ornaments.  Thats right, you know which one I’m talking about.

3. Collaborate And Do More Pot Luck Dinners –  

If you MUST host a party, pot luck is the way to go. Making an entire multi-course meal used to be fun and easy, before I had a darling tiny baby who required all of my time. I can generally squeeze in about 20 minutes in the kitchen during his first nap, and then another 20 minutes while he keeps me company  after he wakes up and plays in his jumperoo.  After those last 20 minutes, my time is up, and dinner better be done! If you’re hosting, ask each of your guests to bring an item with them. Trust me, they will be more than happy to do so!  Make the main dish, and ask them to bring appetizers, sides, and a dessert. Find yourself a simple yet delicious main dish, and enjoy your meal together – plus you’ll be able to spend more time with your baby!

4.  Be Prepared For Anything Your Baby May Need – 

Holiday season generally requires a great deal of traveling, so make sure you are stocked up on the essentials –  feeding, sleeping, changing and playing. I’ve been making a lot of our own baby food, but will be picking up a few items for Itty Bitty to nom on while we are away. Keeping a prepared packet of baby food in your diaper bag is always a safe option. You never want to be stuck somewhere with a hungry baby. 

I have actually done a lot of my shopping at my local CVS.  I go for a walk almost every day with Itty Bitty, and many days we stop by the store to pick up different items that we may need. This past week I loaded up on a ton of holiday items. I was able to get holiday cards, stocking stuffers for Tall Dad, tights to wear (because it is way too cold to go out with bare legs!), some pre-made baby food packets since we will be traveling this weekend, and some Pampers diapers and wipes.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but CVS has actually undergone a huge revamp in their Pampers diapers assortment. There’s TONS more diapers and wipes, which is incredibly helpful. Oh and yes, you see that little yellow sticker below the packaging? I saved big time thanks to a deal on Pampers. 

I’ve been a believer of Pampers since Itty Bitty was born – it was the brand we used in the hospital. I’ve actually read that they are three times drier than other diapers…and can personally tell you that we have tried other brands and have come back to Pampers.  Itty Bitty has never had a nighttime leak in his Swaddlers diapers  – which now go up to size 5! Now that my tiny baby is trying to crawl (eek!) I’ve decided to give the Cruiser style a try. While shopping I picked up another tub of wipes
Once we got home he needed to inspect the product before I put them away and inside our travel diaper bag!  I will put half of these diapers inside our diaper bag, plus the whole tub of wipes.  Why so many? Because this will last me the whole next couple of weeks worth of visits and parties. 
The holidays are stressful enough, and having a little one in diapers brings things to a whole new level. Now that we are stocked, I have one less thing to worry about.

5. Celebrate Boxing Day
What the heck is boxing day?  Traditionally, like if you lived in Downton Abbey (obligatory moment of silence for Matthew Crawley) , you’d give your servants December 26th off from work. That would be their holiday, and you’d cook dinner for them! Additionally, it would also be the day they would receive gifts and bonuses from their bosses.  These gifts were otherwise known as a “Christmas Box.”.

I’ll tell you MY tradition of boxing day. It’s when you box up all of your old or unused stuff, and give it to charities and those less fortunate than you. For example, if you received a new jacket for Christmas, box up your old one for someone in need. Now you have room in your closet, and you are helping someone else. Win Win!  How can you do this with a baby? First, check your house for unused small diapers and extra baby supplies that you do not need. For some reason, I have 3 extra baby changing pads, and a handful of clothes with dogs on them. I personally don’t like dogs (please don’t hate me. I just really don’t like all of the drool and licking…my baby drools enough,) so I’m boxing up all of the dog baby clothes and extra diaper supplies. I’ll be dropping these off at a local women’s shelter. 

I hope you have a most merry and stress-free holiday season – and to make it a tad bit easier for you, here’s a giveaway for two full-value coupons for Pampers diapers (any size) and wipes!  The winner will be chosen on Monday,December 30th, so your little one will have a dry bottom for the New Year! Enter to win below – Good Luck!
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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and, as always, I promise that the content and opinions expressed above are all my own and are 100% true.