Today I put together a family advent countdown calendar. For the FIRST TIME EVER IN NEARLY TEN YEARS OF PARENTING. Because that’s how long I’ve been sleep deprived.
Dear Moms of Littles, listen up here because this is for you – I know this time of year can be hard.
Because it feels like everyone around you is creating meaningful memories for their kids and you’re just trying not to yell at yours because you’re operating on, like, three hours of sleep and you’re so tired you can’t remember why anyone in their right mind would purposely engage in making cookies with tiny humans and risking FLOUR ALL OVER ALL THE THINGS.
I feel you, man.
That is where I lived for a decade.
I have not done advent countdowns.
I have not beautifully decorated my house.
I have not bought Christmas-themed dishware or even paper napkins.
I have not made cookies, pies or anything that even remotely stretches me outside the safe parameters of half hour prep and no more than that for clean up.
But this year? This year I have emerged from the fog of sleep deprivation and I wanted to write this to share with you precious, amazing, exhausted moms of littles that:
a) There is hope. You will make it through. You will. One day you will sleep again and it will occur to you that maybe making cookies with your kids isn’t the act of culinary torture you once imagined it to be.
b) In the meantime, make like Elsa and just, “Let it go.”
Seriously, give yourself grace in this season of grace to make it through simply with tempers intact. No grand countdowns required. No beautiful bonding over cookies and frosting. No handmade wreaths or daily crafts. None of that.
There are no advent police.
There are no family traditions enforcers.
There are no report cards given on the kind of memories you’re making.
Sometimes doing less is the best gift a tired mom can give her family.
Simple. Simple. Simple. Keep it as simple as works for you. And if all you do is give everyone a cup of hot chocolate now and again – including yourself – you are winning.
And if you’re pregnant and reading this between scrolling through all those pinterest boards you wistfully created back before your feet swelled up beyond the size of your slipper socks, then listen especially closely —
forget worrying about everything you didn’t do for everyone else and stop and do something for YOURSELF. Put your feet up. Read a book. Order in. Ignore the dishes. Turn off the phone. Stare at the Christmas lights and remember that you are bringing your own amazing gift into the world. And that is more than enough.
I think we underestimate the power of simply being present with our kids. Of being there to laugh and tickle and even yes, enjoy just one more viewing of Frozen.
When we are truly present with our kids instead of distracted and guilted by all the “should-haves” and “wish-I-could-haves” we aren’t in danger of missing the “right-nows.”
Nativities will come and go (and in our house we seem to go through them at an impressive rate, what with someone’s head being broken off immediately and inevitably as soon as the box is opened).
But parents willing to sit between the dishes and listen to the stories of wonder or woe that pour out of their tiny humans? That – that is the stuff of miracles and memories. There is your frosting. There is your meaningful art. There is your tradition.
Just keep showing up. Just keep listening. Just keep asking questions, changing diapers, laughing during bath times, and sometimes crying after bedtimes.
It’s OK. You’re OK. You’re more than OK.
You’re knee deep in the sacred footsteps of Mary and her first loud, rough, desperate Christmas. You’re there in the muck and the stink and the stable with her. Your kids still rowdy and unpredictable as hers on that first Christmas.
Grace, sisters, grace.
So, here’s to however you choose to celebrate the waiting of the coming Christ. Because after all, it’s Him that matters most. And He came to a tired mother with very little flourish, fancy, or perfect.
Love your tiny people, mamas. Crazy ordinary, without expectations love them and that will be more than enough.
And if you want a book to encourage them instead of tell them what they should be doing differently, THIS is the one!
Read the first three chapters for free over here.
Grab your copy over here.
This post rocks! I love love it! Thanks for the great reminder that Pinterest isn’t our stnadard for successful parenting this Christmas season! I might read this a few more times before Christmas just as a reminder. :)
Love this post! I won’t let comparison ruin my Christmas! I will keep my eyes on my Christmas and thank God for sending Jesus to save us and the awesome gift of sending my sons for me to peek into my heavenly fathers heart!
I love this. I love love love Christmas and love family traditions, but for the last few years my motto has been “maybe next year.” Pregnant and chasing after a three year old this year and its no different. We do what works for us and all the other lovely ideas floating around will just have to wait. I ain’t got time to be stressed out at Christmas! :) Another important thing to remember is the main reason that traditions are so great and important – because of the connections and memories you make with your children. So if for you that means going crazy making from scratch cut out cookies or if it means baking store-bought dough – thats OKAY! Your kids are just happy to be with you, doing something special. Little kids especially don’t need a lot of extra fluff to make the season full of wonder – its how they see the world already.
One last thing – if you’re struggling with feeling bad about not doing what someone else is doing, please stop. Please stop because I’ve been that “other person.” The person who is just being themselves and doing something crazy like cutting 50 snowflakes out and hanging them from the ceiling on St. Nicolas day’s eve. I’m the person who has been up until 2am trying to make the perfect cake for their one year olds birthday. And I’ve had people struggle with their own self-esteem because of what I’ve done. As though the only reason I did it was to make them feel bad because they didn’t do the exact same thing – and you know what, it makes ME feel bad. Lets just celebrate with each other how we were made individually and what we enjoy doing, and not compare.
Well, nothing like bringing some tear showers on a Monday. I so needed this. Thank you. Sometime I feel like I’m a bad mom that we don’t do Elf on a Shelf or Santa or whatever… and I’m pregnant, so that part hit me hard. Thank you always for your encouragement, Lisa Jo.
Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have no idea how much I needed this. My husband shared this post to my Facebook page with the note “You need to read this.” I am going to let go and let God. Life doesn’t have to be perfect. And, I am going to bake cookies with my Littles, but you’d better believe they’re going to be the pre-portioned Pillsbury ones!
Really though, are there any other kind? :)
My youngest is a senior in high school and this is the first year that I made a creative advent calendar just for her! This is the last year of having this wonderful privilege, don’t wait as long as me. But on the other hand, she appreciates it a lot more than when she was younger !
Amen sister. Amen.
I love this more than I have words for. Yes, and yes, and yes to being present. Thanks for this, Lisa-Jo.
No Advent police – just hilarious! Yes, love us more than enough.
Loved it! Needed that encouragement. And your mention of the pregnant mamas…I’m just entering the third trimester with my third child and with invites for Christmas parties coming in and gifts to wrap or make, i feel like I can only look one day at a time. Nice to know others have been there too and it is more important to the little ones to have a happy mama than a perfect holiday house.
Oh so good. Being 25 weeks pregnant and catching a stomach bug from my 4 year old, while desperately trying to keep my 2 year old healthy, what a great post to read….. Thank you, I hadn’t given myself permission to stop trying so hard! My husband will thank you for this post too:)