When you’re in the throes of holiday shopping, planning, partying and cooking, your stress level can skyrocket. You’re trying to make things magical for your family, and you’re succeeding…but you’re starting to feel like the Grinch in the process.
But wait—isn’t this whole holiday thing supposed to be fun? Ha! Is that even possible for moms at this time of the year?
Believe it or not, yes!
That’s why I enlisted organizer extraordinaire Bonnie Barrios of B-organizedB-inspired.com to write this guest post. She can help you get organized for the holidays now so that you can enjoy some of the holly, jolly times ahead. Happy December, moms, and good luck! –Dawn
Does thinking about the holidays give you anxiety?
Do you have so much to do that you don’t know where to start?
And, most of all, do you feel like all you do is prep, then prep some more, and you don’t even have a second to sit down, have a drink and enjoy yourself?
Well, I have some solutions for you! Here are my 11 steps to having an enjoyable, stress-free holiday season.
Create and organize your to-do list. Get a clean piece of paper and brain dump. Write down every single little thing that needs to get done before the big day. I call this my master list. Next, take out your calendar. You can use the one on your phone or an old-school paper planner, whatever you prefer. Start plugging things in from your master list, assigning each one to a different day. As you start scheduling items onto your daily calendar, cross them off the master list. Now everything is in one place and ready to be tackled.
Hire a mother’s helper. If you’re working on a project and just need to focus without kiddie distractions, this is a great option. A mother’s helper can entertain the children while you’re in the house but working on your task. You can also ask her to come an hour earlier or stay an hour later so that she can help you pick up and organize the playroom or put away the children’s laundry. This will save you so much time. Plus, mother’s helpers normally charge half to less than half of the hourly rate of a babysitter.
Mail those holiday cards! I generally recommend having your pictures chosen and your cards printed by Thanksgiving week and then sending them out by the first week of December. If you haven’t done that yet, file that timeline away for next year, and get to it ASAP!
Plan your meals for the month, including anything extra you need for entertaining. Place your food order online—on a site like Fresh Direct or from your neighborhood supermarket—have it delivered. Trust me: You do not want to be in a grocery store during the holiday season.
Hire professional cleaners, and schedule them to come right before an event. When your house is nice and clean and you don’t have to worry about it, it can make a big difference. If you’re on a budget and need to do the cleaning yourself, start three to four days before the event and clean for no more than two to three hours a day; otherwise you’ll be too exhausted to do anything else. Make a list of what needs to get cleaned and organized, and prioritize because sometimes everything can’t get done and that’s OK. Bonus tip: Wait to clean the kitchen and bathrooms until the day before so they don’t get dirty.
Declutter your hall closet. You will need space for your guests’ coats, and you can donate your gently used coats to an annual coat drive in your neighborhood.
Clean out your refrigerator. Again, you’ll need the space if you’re entertaining. Plus, this can inspire you to cook and stay healthy during this busy season.
If you haven’t started shopping yet, get your gift list ready this week. Also, try to do as much shopping online as you can. This will save you tons of time, hassle and stress.
Schedule a manicure or a hair appointment for yourself—and put it in the calendar. You have to remember to take care of yourself!
Create a wrapping station. This is a lifesaver. With everything in one place, you won’t have to run around and search high and low for the items that you need each and every time you want to wrap a gift. And while we’re on the subject of wrapping, make sure to wrap a little bit every night so that everything’s not left until the last minute. What if you have little ones who love to get into everything? Create a portable station. Load up all of your wrapping paper, tape, ribbons and labels into a carrier and store it on a high closet shelf or in a room that they do not go into often.
If you’re hosting a party at home, consider getting a babysitter. Even if the children will be there, you won’t have to tend to them in the way you normally would. Instead, you can sit and have dinner with your guests and have an actual conversation.
I hope that you have enjoyed my tips and that you have a wonderful holiday!
Bonnie Barrios is a mom, organizing expert, actress and TV host. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters, and helps people throughout the Tri-State area organize their lives. You can also catch her on IKEA’s new holiday commercial, airing now. For more about Bonnie, check out B-organizedB-inspired.com.
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