November 9, 2021
What if this Christmas we made things more simple? Could we slow down, buy less, and focus on making memories with the people that we love. What would a simplified Christmas look like and how could we make the moments count more with less work?
A Minimalist Holiday Season
The Mom Training Podcast with Diana Ballard
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Hey, ladies! Welcome to the Mom Training Podcast. Man, I am getting so excited for Christmas. [chuckle] if you’re like, “Diana, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.” Just pretend we’re in the middle of December… “Okay.”
But no, seriously, with everything that’s already in our plate as a mom, like we have a lot to do to prepare for Christmas. And so, we just got to talk about this stuff. We just got to put it on the table. So, don’t run from stuff like this, of talking about things early and preparing early, because you’d thank yourself later when you’re not as stressed this holiday season.
So, we’re going to specifically talk about Christmas and how to have more of a minimalistic, if that’s even a word, Christmas where it’s maybe less about the stuff, more about the experience. Less Hupplepuff around you, you know, things that are stressing you out.
A lot of the fluff that’s really fun during the holidays, but can we do maybe two things instead of five? Can we spend more time with our family, like sitting around the Christmas tree, drinking hot chocolate, instead of going out someplace? And if you love events, that’s totally fine. If you love doing things for people, that’s awesome.
This is just going to give you a couple ideas of how maybe you could adjust your way of living, this Christmas season. So, I’m going to share a couple of things that I’ve been doing the last couple of years. A couple of things we implemented right now, and we’ll go from there.
So, I decided last year, like legit, do a minimal Christmas. And it was interesting because I got five gifts per kid, and then they get a stocking which has like a bunch of little things in it and some candy and fun things like that. Stockings were always my favorite growing up, because my mom would actually take the time to wrap all the little gifts and stuff.
Now, you tell me that, [chuckle] I’ll hire someone to do that. I’m not going to wrap all those little gifts… No way.
So, we’ll see. Maybe this year, I’ll be different. Maybe I’ll start wrapping one at a time. I’m itching to wrap things, just because I’ve already got it all. Like I’m already done with my Christmas, for my husband, for my kids, and it’s just sitting in our storage room, like up on a shelf, and I’m like itching to get in it. Like, “Okay, let’s get this done. I’m so excited.” Still working on the stockings but the main presents are done.
But anyway, last year, I decided that I was going to do a minimal Christmas, because… I mean, honestly, bringing… So, we travel. We go to family for the holidays, and so we bring all of our Christmas with us. And then we have to bring all of Christmas back.
Now, that really makes you think about things because, when you’re like, “Holy crap, we have to bring back so many extra things because we all got these many gifts”, I mean, it’s just a lot of stuff.
Last year, we tried if for the first time. I did five gifts and a stocking per person, per kid, I should say. I got my husband something else. I don’t know. I can’t even remember what I got him… But I’ll tell you, it was really an interesting experience.
So, preparing up to Christmas morning, I felt great about it. I was excited. I was like totally chilling, there was no stress. I wasn’t wrapping last minute. I wasn’t having to run to the store and drive my cart through five million people, and just grab whatever is on the shelf that maybe they’ll like it or not… I already knew. Like I’ve been shopping early. I had things done; probably around October again, and it was pretty chilling.
But then Christmas morning came and we were with our family. And it was almost… I mean, I was kind of embarrassed or like ashamed. I don’t know what the feeling was, but I felt bad, I should say. Because we had some grandparents and some cousins, just sitting around, and they opened maybe one or two presents that people had given them. And then they were sitting and watching my kids open theirs, and my kids only had five gifts.
And so, Christmas was over super fast because five gifts and you know… And we’re that family, it drives my husband nuts, but I push for it still, that we open up, one gift at a time. So, one person will open up a gift, and we look at it and we say, “Thank you so much! Oh, that was great!” And we give hugs. And then we go to the next person, and they open one gift. And then the next person, they open one gift.
You’re like, “Dude, I would die.”
Yeah, well, that’s how I grew up, is we open one gift at a time, thank the person. We would enjoy it, then we move on to the next person. We’d go on a circle. And I love that because it makes it prolonged a little bit, pulls it out. There’s a little more gratitude that’s included with Christmas.
So, even doing that, of one gift at a time, Christmas was over really fast. And I remember feeling uncomfortable, because it was like, “Well, there it is!... It’s over…” And my kids were perfectly fine. They enjoyed what they got. They had fun.
But it was me that felt uncomfortable, of did I do enough, “Oh my gosh, did I look like I just didn’t care about getting things for my kids?” And I know that’s all my problem. Right?
But it was really interesting because we have some belief systems around what we think Christmas is supposed to be like. It’s supposed to be like this grandiose thing with five million gifts, and they have to keep getting better and better each year. What will other people think? And all this kind of stuff.
And it’s all in our head. It’s all in our head.
So, this Christmas, I have still kept it to about five… And I usually don’t even do a toy. And you’re like, “What? You don’t give your kids toys? They’re little.” My kids are six, four, two and three months, right now. So, I’m not doing anything for my three-month-old at all. Like she doesn’t know.
I might like give her an outfit that’s going to fit her around that time. But I already have that and she’s going to wear it anyway. So, maybe I’ll wrap that, I don’t know. But I don’t get toys and stuff for her because both grandmas give her a toy. She doesn’t need more than two toys for Christmas.
Then the stuff that I get is like learning toys. So, like magnets that you can build something. Or one kid is getting a magic school bus; like exploration kit that has all about the physical body, and we’re going to put together a skeleton and stuff.
So, I do like learning things, or a new thing of underwear, or a new dress, or things that, pretty much, they already need but it’ll be fun for them to get. And then the toys come from their grandmas. So, we’ve already picked out exactly what toys they want, and we’ve sent it off to the grandmas, and hopefully they’d forget about them and we’ll be super excited on Christmas morning.
A little back story, that Christmas for me, ever since I was even a child, it has been a humongous deal. I would have my own Christmas tree down in the basement, and do like an entire Christmas for my family. Like little tiny stockings, and gifts and everything. I have no idea where I got my money from, to do that. Maybe my mom helped me out of it, I don’t know.
But I used to put on a full Christmas for them. It was so exciting. I loved it. It was a big deal.
And so, now, being a mom, and also being the one to clean up the house, and our house is a little house, what can I cut down? Will my kids enjoy Christmas, if they get two toys? One from each grandma, during the holidays, instead of 20. That they’re not going to play with, anyway and they’re going to just throw all over the floor. And we’re going to have a million things more to pick up.
So, I want you to think about what your goals are this holiday season. And kind of shift your mindset to, “How can I make this more of a minimal Christmas?” Not saying that you’re just going to throw all your fun things out the window, but think about how you have felt these last holiday season, of you being a mom, or whatever. Have you been stressed out? Have you been slamming in to Christmas morning, and staying up till 3:00 in the morning, finishing all these things?
What can you do now? What can you already have prepared? How can you make it simplified?
And then, I’m going to share one more thing that we have done recently, that has helped prepare us for Christmas. So, my husband came up with this idea, and I loved it. And I couldn’t even believe it worked.
So, we do like a lesson, kind of a spiritual lesson every week, either on Sunday or Monday. Me and my husband take turns making the lessons. So, this was his time, and he wanted to teach them about cleanliness. And about how we can feel better and have God better in our home when our house is clean, and where our bodies are taken care of and we’re showered with clean clothes on. You know, whatever. Like a lesson like that.
And so, we went through and he had cleaned one area really well and brought them, “How do you feel? How does it look in here?” Then he brought them into the toy area. “How do you feel about this?” ... “Oh, it’s messy… Doesn’t make me feel good... I’m stepping on things.”
And so, he made a chart, where if they got rid of 20 toys each… You’re like, “…20 toys. Holy crap.” Believe me, you can get rid of 20 toys, I guarantee … And if they each got rid of 20 toys each, then they would get to the store with daddy, and he would buy them one toy.
And I was like, “Okay. Let’s see how this goes”, because they don’t like getting rid of stuff. But it was enough to motivate them the next day, you guys, they each got rid of 20 toys. This is the four-year-old and the six-year-old. And so, the next day, daddy took them to the store and bought them each, a little toy for $5.
And it was like the best time of their life… Because before you have a new Christmas season, you got to purge some stuff. You got to get rid of things. If you’re already like at the seams with toys, you got to let some stuff go. Because you’re just…
If you’re having a hard time keeping your house clean, you’re pulling your hair out, by how much stuff is all over… Like cleaning the toy area or the toy room five million times, it might be time to get rid of some stuff. And you’d be surprised what your kid is okay to let go of.
And a lot of times, we might be the one that’s like, “No, you can’t get rid of that.” And that’s okay. That’s totally fine if there’s things you want to keep specifically, but let them let it go. Teach them it’s okay to let things go. And their life would be so much happier in the future, when they don’t have to hold on to a bunch of crap they don’t even need or want anymore.
So, this Christmas that is coming up, I invite you to, one -make it simple. Make it more of a minimal Christmas experience, but like a potent one. Like make the moment and the time you have together, the activities that you do, really matter. Make it like the best experience you’ve ever had, type of thing.
And as you relax more, as you step back and let yourself enjoy the holidays, by just being peaceful, not always being busy, being done with your Christmas shopping early, then this will be a great year.
Second, prepare your house for the upcoming dump of more stuff… And I mean that in the most respectful and nice way, because people are so kind with their gifts, but it brings in more stuff. It does. And some of that stuff, you don’t really even really like, but you’re not really going to get rid of it right away because it cost someone money, or your mom gave it to you.
So, take the opportunity now, to purge your house, to clean out some things, make some space so that you’re not pulling your hair out, the beginning of the year of like, “Holy crap! How do I keep this clean?”
But I hope you have a wonderful upcoming holiday season. This is going to be so great, moms. This is going to be so awesome. Let’s enjoy it and we will see you next Tuesday on The Mom Training Podcast.