*** This article originally appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of Traverse Bay Family Magazine. It is reprinted with permission. ***
The holidays can be super stressful. Your time, budget and family are all being pulled in a million directions at once. Recitals, pageants, parties, ornament & cookie swaps, craft parties, open houses and more. Then when you finally make it to Christmas, your parents and your in-laws both want you over at 3pm for Christmas dinner and you (and your kids) just want to stay put. I get dizzy just thinking about it. And all that hustling and bustling makes it impossible to stick to your budget and eat healthy, too.
The best way to get your holidays back under control is to set a time budget. For the purposes of the budget, I base my time budget on all the days between Thanksgiving and the Epiphany (January 6), just because that is the traditional end of the Christmas season. Since most of my family is Catholic, I make the argument that anytime before January 6 is still considered Christmas. Even if you aren’t Catholic, I bet you can make it work!
Meet with your husband (and children if they are old enough) and talk about your ideal Christmas season.
1. Have to Go. Gather a list of items that are “essential” such as the company Christmas party, a holiday school presentation, and family you’d like to visit during the holidays.
2. Like to Go. Make a list of events that each person would like to attend.
3. Like to Do. Create a list of things that the kids would like to do this Christmas season, whether it’s doing volunteer work, drinking hot chocolate, looking at Christmas lights, making cookies, or whatever comes to mind. You might find that their list is different than the one you’ve been driving yourself nuts over.
4. Rest. Decide how much time your family needs to be home and just relax with each other. I personally try to only be out 1-2 nights a week, but I’m pretty stingy with my time :). Figure out what realistically works for your family.
5. Calendar. Start plugging your must-go’s into the calendar. Then add your like-to-go’s and any like-to-do’s that require your family to leave the house. Then see if you have enough rest built in. If not, start removing activities.
Once you have must-go’s, like-to-go’s and rest scheduled in, take the things that your kids would like to do that doesn’t involve leaving the house and make a Holiday Fun Jar. When you make it, buy any necessary items. Then when you are home during your rest days and your kids want to do something fun, pick out an activity from the jar. If necessary, color code the time intensive ones.
How do you budget your time during the holidays?