Nobody can "do it all" and no one is perfect. I stopped trying to be perfect years ago. But the holidays always put an extra layer of pressure on all of us – just to make them better than "good." Here, our global parenting expert, Katie Bugbee talks about managing this crazy time of year, especially when you’re working full-time.
Thanksgiving is just behind us, Hanukkah is already here and we have -- gasp! – just three weekends until Christmas! And that’s only if you count the weekend of the 20th, when family has likely already descended on your home – or you to theirs.
While the holidays are an amazing time of year (you can hear the squeals when your kids open their gifts now), getting it all done is overwhelming. It feels like a marathon – and you’re sprinting through it.
I get it. I’ve got two small kids and a full-time job (and two holiday parties to buy dresses for!). But here are some ways to outsource this stress – or remove it completely:
- Email holiday cards. I cringe as I write this because I love creating a wall of family and friends’ beautiful faces. But those cards take forever to create and send, and let’s face it, they cost time, money and trees. This year, send an e-card with those same adorable faces. There are some wonderful sites that make it super easy. I’ve even asked our nanny to take the kids’ picture. They can make it a fun activity. Plus, she has a better camera than I do!
- Plan a potluck dinner. If you’re hosting family, figure out which nights will be the most chaotic – and ask that everyone bring or make a dish. You could always buy a spiral ham and ask for the sides (makes for great lunches the next day too!) Or, get it catered. And yes, Chinese food delivery totally counts.
- Shop online as much as possible. If you’re like me, nights and weekends are the only times to get my 30+ gift recipient list taken care of. See which free shipping sites you can take advantage of for this. Or buy gift cards at your local drug store. It’s not as personal, but it’s what people tend to prefer. I’m also considering making donations to special organizations near and dear to my heart – or my kids’ – instead of buying gifts.
- Buy lots of little gifts. There are bound to be people you forget or last minute parties you’re invited to – and they’ll have presents for your kids (ugh!). Avoid that last minute trip to the store and go just once, stocking up on small extras like $4 note paper sets, picture frames and faux orchids. And there’s always wine – that can be a great hostess gift or end of year treat for a friend.
- Ask a sitter or nanny for help. Who couldn’t use some extra hands for gift wrapping, post office trips, even grocery shopping? If you have a trusted nanny or sitter who has free time during naps, or before she picks kids up from school, ask for help! We hear from a lot of nannies and sitters who would be more than happy to do extra projects this time of year.
- Let your spouse and kids do the decorating. This one may take a little getting used to because things won’t necessarily be done just the way you’d like it but trust me….you’ll have more time and they’ll love being involved. They can do holiday crafts and make ornaments with the nanny or sitter and let’s face it, a kid-infused holiday house just exudes joy.
- Get the house cleaned. Professionally. With a house full of guests and perhaps an especially demanding in-law, keeping up with clean bathrooms and vacuumed rugs is just one more thing to worry about. So don’t. Take the house cleaning off your plate. You can even book the same person or company to come after everyone leaves – and start 2014 off easy.
- Book your nights out now. You already know you have several holiday parties and of course, there’s New Year’s Eve. Avoid the last-minute panic of finding a sitter and book someone now. In fact, even if you don’t have plans, a nice night out for you and a friend or your partner could be just what you need through these crazy holidays – or immediately after.
You don’t have to do all of these shortcuts, but even one or two changes like this can help.
Do you have holiday outsourcing tips of your own? Tell us!