23 Nov 2015

Dear Moms of Littles – Here’s Your “*Don’t* Have To Do Holiday List” – You’re Welcome

Last year was the first time I cooked a Thanksgiving turkey and put together a family advent countdown calendar. 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 Thanksgiving and 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 you instead of tell you what you should be doing differently, THIS is the one!

Read the first three chapters for free over here.

Grab your copy over here.



{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    So needed to read this before the Christmas season gets underway. Beautiful and encouraging!

  2. 2

    And…. Tears. Needed this today at this very moment. With 3 littles 5 and under and another coming in Feb, I keep wondering if sleep will happen and how in the world moms have time or energy to do all that creative stuff and feel like my kids must be missing out. I now feel released. Thank you :-)

  3. 3

    I am so glad I read this today…though wish I had read it this morning instead. I just spent my daughter’s naptime trying to decorate my living room ‘perfectly’ and got extremely frustrated with my lack of decorations, the way it was so not looking ‘perfect’, and then my daughter woke up early from her nap which made me even more frustrated! I am the pregnant one in this post – so thank you for your permission to just skip some of this stuff this year…I needed to hear that.

  4. 4

    “And He came to a tired mother with very little flourish, fancy, or perfect.” Love this so much! :)

  5. 5

    Oh, how your words bless me!

  6. 6

    Gosh I love you! I get some sleep but often still don’t feel adequate after reading so many crafty mom blogs :(

  7. 7

    This is beautiful and such a great reminder for us moms of littles! Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough crafting and tradition at this time- I actually told a girlfriend tonight, “I didn’t even do a Thanksgiving craft with my kids!” Why didn’t I read this first??

  8. 8

    Haha! This post cracked me up. Thank you for this. I really needed to hear this from someone coming from a family of perfectionist. I didn’t get the memo. :) Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  9. 9
    susan carroll says:

    Now I am a grandmother, but I raised six of my own.. You are a wise mom. There is a time for extra stuff and a time to just take care of the little ones. A few hints for baking with kids. If you can put the kids on the other side of an island or countertop, or table, it will be much easier to keep your sanity. Give each child a ball of dough equal to your patience that day so they can roll and cut out cookies. If it becomes too crazy, freeze the dough to finish another day. Save the decorating for another day. If decorating is more important, you bake the cookies and set up decorating things after the cookies are all done and cool. Only set out a few cookies the first time. They mostly want to frost, decorate and eat their work. You will know when they are ready to decorate cookies for others Have fun together! This is about fun and memories, not a tray of gorgeous cookies.

  10. 10

    Words of wisdom for the tired mama’s out there and the mama’s who used to be tired. Grace in their now and in their past. Beautiful.

  11. 11

    I’m sharing this with my MOPS Facebook group. Lisa-Jo, this is really encouraging. I love that you actually put a timeline/deadline on the lack of sleep. I’m not naturally crafty or bake-y but of course want my kids to have those “experiences” because well. Pinterest. But with a 3 year old and a newborn… I just can’t. And I remind myself that my kids have lots of years of childhood. (don’t listen to those who say “they grow up so fast”–not helpful). We read or go to Barnes and Noble and he plays at the train table while I read. It’s what I can do with 5 hours of broken sleep night after night after night after night…

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  1. […] Baker shares this (and the secret that there is no Advent Police) in her post “Dear Moms of Littles….” She goes on to highlight what really […]

  2. […] shall not be intimidated by how the holidays, the turkey, the tree or the memories “should” be celebrated but love the people I’m celebrating with […]

  3. […] might mean for you and your family. Pace yourself to avoid burnout and sickness. Read this “Don’t Have To” list from Lisa Jo Baker if you need further permission to let go during the […]

  4. […] Lisa Jo Baker (one of my favorites) shared some thoughts that every parent needs to read this h… – and every holiday season. As parents, we go into the holidays with so many expectations, mostly on ourselves. We want this to be The Best Christmas Ever, we want to mimic the magazines and Pinterest houses, we want to provide our children with memories they will cherish. So we struggle and run around like crazy and we miss the moment. It is OK to be tired. List Jo writes… […]

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