A small family is decorating a Christmas tree. Mom is on the ground and Dad is lifting the child.
Real Experiences

Surviving The Holidays

For some people the holidays are a time for joy, laughter, and bliss. They’re a great excuse for catching up with family, enjoying some stress-free time off work, and experiencing the joy of giving. Being surrounded by loved ones, Christmas music, and the mouth-watering aroma of turkey is sure to fill your heart to the brim.

If your eyes rolled into the back of your head reading that, this post is for you.

For most of us here in the real world, the holidays are chaos. This is a lesson I learned when I was 10 years old. Having divorced parents, a gargantuan family, and just not enough time in the world made things very stressful during the holidays. I still haven’t quite mastered how to get through Christmas with that “holiday bliss,” but I’ve learned a few tricks along the way that have stopped me from pulling my hair out.

Time Management

My baby has seven grandparents. Yes, you read that right – seven. That’s four different families we need to try and see over the holiday season. How do we do it? Well, we don’t.

If your family is like ours – huge and divided – I’m sure you know how tough it can be to try and please everybody during Christmas. Everybody wants to see our baby Christmas day, open gifts with her, and have her at Christmas dinner. But it’s absolutely impossible to be in four places in once, so what can we do? Unfortunately, the answer is that somebody will always be dissapointed.

Each year we trade off. We try to see at least two families during the holidays, and three if we’re feeling optimistic. Whoever we don’t see one year, we will make a priority the next. People give us grief, but hey – we gotta do what’s best for us. If you’re going to drag your little one around from one family to the next, don’t expect them to love Christmas. I only had two families to see as a kid, and I wasn’t a big fan of the holiday as a result.

The most important part of proper time management during the holidays is to make sure you’re finding time to be together as a family (as in household family). For us, that’s Christmas morning. No matter how much greif we get from our extended families, that time will always be just for us. Try to set time aside for your little’s to really enjoy the holiday.


It’s not news that Christmas is expensive. The feeling of giving someone that perfect gift is great – until you see your credit card bill.

For a very long time, I felt obliged to match the gifts I was given. I struggled every year knowing I couldn’t afford to drop the same amount of money on people that they were spending on me. To be honest, I still struggle with this. However, I have made my way through it and have learned a few money-saving tricks.

First and foremost, embrace your inner DIY-spirit. Over the years, I have received some amazing handmade gifts, and given some pretty great ones as well. Pinterest is an absolute gold mine for this type of stuff. Everything from scented bath salts to personalized coffee mugs can be made for a fraction of the price you would pay at the store. Even if you’re not the creative type, get your hands dirty with some Christmas baking. Everybody loves a good batch of cookies over the holidays.

Another great budget-friendly idea is to do a gift exchange. Secret Santa and Chinese gift exchanges are super fun – everybody gives one great gift, and everybody goes home with one. Some people argue that it’s less personal that way, but anytime I’ve been a part of a gift exchange I’ve gone home very happy.

Lastly, don’t feel guilty accepting the more pricey gifts. Different people have different financial situations, and you can’t control everyone’s spending. One of my favorite parts of Christmas is seeing the look on someone’s face when they open a well thought out present. So, be that happy person and enjoy the gift!

Plan Ahead

This goes for every aspect of Christmas. Planning ahead (for us at least) is crucial to surviving the holidays. Like I mentioned already, we have a lot of people to see on Christmas. If you’re like us and have multiple families to get to, try to plan ahead and figure out where you’re expected to be on which day. That way, you don’t have to make a hard decision on Christmas morning.

As we all know, shopping from November 12th until December 24th is an absolute nightmare. Trying to manouver your way through a busy mall with a baby in tow is just ridiculous. I made that mistake once, and I am now a very loyal Amazon customer. So my advice to you Mama’s – shop online, or get all your Christmas shopping done EARLY. Like, months and months in advance.

Most importantly, pack your stretchy pants for Christmas dinner. This is crucial, guys. There is zero tolerance for the words “I’m full” at the dinner table during the holidays.

Last but not least, just take it easy Mama’s. If you’re having a good time, chances are your kids will pick up on that and love the holiday just as much as you did when you were their age. Just don’t forget to leave cookies and milk out for Santa!

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1 Comment

  1. Lois Volk says:

    Good thoughts Tenille. For us growing up it was simple. It was at home and we knew that. It was about the kids and we knew that. It was a traditional meal cooked by Granny and mom and we knew that. Santa brought the kids one big gift and we knew that. Any other gifts were from mom and dad (mom) or a distant aunt and uncle and were usually in some way functional but enjoyed.

    I realized it must be tough on you kids but your post this morning hit me a little harder. You still have to go through this. Even the gift equalizing…. Truthfully at my age I am not anticipating the receiving of gifts as much. Its hard for the gift granter to find appropriate gifts (and personally I dispise Christmas shopping). Like you said, its not intentional but some get caught up in the competitiveness, not against other family members but between each other – the worthiness of a gift given compared to a gift received.

    I struggle not to feel cheated. Yes, I am the matriarch of this side of my family and I should be at least having of share of the Christmas festivities in my home. You all know I’m capable of it but no, I chose to live too damned far from the rest of you and none of you want to make the trek.

    Anyway for the sake of staying with the mommy blog, I know you’ll slog your way through it. Remember not to spoil those babies and rellies too much. Maybe you can find a way to swerve the occasion in a better direction.

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