5 Holiday Hacks for Busy Parents

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5 Holiday Hacks for Busy Parents

If I were to be completely honest, my house is generally chaotic. Teenagers practicing music, home-cooked meals followed by dirty dishes in the sink, piles of clean laundry and dog hair--everywhere! These are just a few scenes in my gloriously messy and chaotic life, and I wouldn’t change it for anything…well, I could do without the dog hair and the dishes in the sink. But that is for another blog post.

I know I’m not alone, but the holidays bring an extra sprinkle of chaos to my busy world. I look forward to seeing family and revisiting the same jokes and stories. Who was mom’s favorite? Remember that time when you sneaked some lemon juice in my milk and I screamed in horror as the milk came alive? It feels like there is all the time spent doing stuff that leads up to the main event at the table and very little time actually sitting down and enjoying the meal.

Over the years I’m learning how to savor the time at the table with some rituals to bring calm to my world.

Here’s what I do to keep centered:

Pick something to deep-clean ahead of the family arrival. This year, I’m having someone come to wash all the windows. I knew I was never going to do it on my own, and sometimes it is worth it to outsource the cleaning. Maybe it is something else for you. I know people that love to ring in the holiday season with decorations. Maybe you can have your Marie Kondo moment and get rid of things that no longer spark joy. Take those items to the local non-profit thrift so your discards have a chance to bring joy to someone else.

Me Time. I start the morning with a little meditation or yoga. When I make coffee in the morning, it is too hot to drink. While the coffee is cooling off, I take a little “me time.”

Find all the dishes ahead of time. If you’re like me, things are stashed in various places. Pull your dishes all out ahead of time so you can decide which menu items are best on specific plates. Once you’ve decided, put the rest of the dishes away. If you’re missing something, call a friend or relative. You don’t need to buy that 24” platter to use once; someone else probably already did that. My friend Meredith and I keep trading off a quick-release cake pan. I’m not even sure who bought it to begin with.

Delegate. When someone asks how they can help, take them up on it! There is no honor in doing it all yourself. Mom’s special pie is better when she makes it herself. Let your siblings do the green beans or the stuffing.

What about the kids? Glad you asked. If you have teens, like I do, but also younger kids around, your teens (or someone else’s if you have younger kids) may welcome an opportunity to get on the floor and play with the little ones. Playing with Legos or making stop motion Lego movies is always fun. I’d leave the specific activity up to you and the teens. Plus, teens are good at following microwave directions and can always heat up some mac & cheese or a burrito for anyone that is hungry.

Whatever you do to make the holidays easier, I hope you spend more time on the most important things: enjoying special moments with family and friends, rehashing the same stories, laughing over shared memories. And perhaps, I am saying this to myself, but hopefully you can forget about dog hair and the laundry.

Happy Holidays!

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Michelle loves creating things and working with and being around people who make cool things happen. She teaches yoga and lives in Napa with her family and two rescue dogs.