Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Choosing Peace This Advent When You're The Mom To Littles

Well, everyone, we're almost to the middle of Advent. We've got a finite amount of time left to prepare ourselves and families for the coming of Christ. And don't I know it that there are varietal mountains of things to get done and do for Christmas. If you're like me and have a handful of small people who depend upon you, trying to keep your sanity can become something like walking a tightrope until December 25.

I know how much work you're already doing. Right now just keeping my kids alive and our house afloat takes up a lot of energy. I hit the couch exhausted by 7 pm because five little people have needed me for their 60 cups of water, 10 times of getting everyone dressed to go outside, the preparation of every meal, the patience to deal with the spills and upsets and tantrums. It's a lot, it's important, and it's our daily duty and vocation.

As Christmas and Advent roll up I can feel the pressure to do more things, and a growing endless to-do list grows in my head. But I can't change the fact that even adding one more activity to our day can throw a wrench in our entire day, sending me spinning in a swirl of catching up and getting by.

But I want to buy all the gifts, and give everyone in our lives a small token of how we treasure them. I want to send all the Christmas cards, bake all the cookies, decorate all the things, celebrate everything there is to celebrate in this wonderful season! I also want to prepare, observe, sit quietly and appreciate the anticipation that Advent is meant to be.

Right now with all these little kids I've got to accept the fact that all that needs to happen and the time and energy I have don't quite match up. Even with simplifying, prioritizing, and selecting there's no getting around the fact that life with small children involves a lot of elbow grease and that Christmas adds even more to our plate. The reality is I need to pace myself and slow myself down. I have to come to grips that only the most important events will get us out of the house and only then with a good helping of effort and more work.

I've whittled things down, chosen carefully, but still the nagging persists in the back of my mind: "Do more, do more, do more..."

So, what's a girl to do?

I've gotta tell myself the sassy advice I doled out last year: calm-the-Jesse-Tree-down!

We can't get around the many things we need to do day in, day out as the mom to little ones. Even by parring things down there will be a lot of work for us this holiday season, there's no getting around it as we prepare our homes and families for Christmas, but we can choose mental peace this Advent. 

I don't have to give into that nagging temptation to do, to do, to do. This is so hard for me because if I have a spare moment instead of settling in the peace I feel hear the urge to keep doing, knock some more chores off that Christmas list, or even -- do more! I feel as if I may turn into a slave to these terrible temptations of lists in the back of my mind.

I feel like the lists and things that need to be done must consume all my time. But the fact is they really don't. Sure, it's a lot that needs to get done and most of it will need to be done by me, but I'm being a bit melodramatic in thinking it will take all 14 days left in Advent and all 24 hours of each day to complete them. The truth is if I devote a bit of time everyday to the intimidating NEED TO GET DONE list I'll make loads of headway. I enjoy the time I spend baking cookies while listening to my favourite podcasts with the kids, and I can wrap presents while watching Peaky Blinders with my husband. I can focus on enjoying entertaining friends and family because no one ever remembers if I had another appetizer or dessert out on the table - they remember the great times of being together.

At the end of the day the nagging to-do list can rob me of my mental peace. Mental peace is one of the gifts of Advent. God calls us to change, prepare ourselves, remodel our interior selves to better receive Christ at Christmas. But we have to actively choose to say no to the disruption of our inner peace and choose internal quiet, even from our own minds. I keep reminding myself that what needs to be done will get done, and it will get done little by little, I don't have to turn myself into a grump to do it, and I don't have to kill myself for a list of my own making.

It's really amazing how just making that simple, conscious choice to not do, do do, not struggle to get the endless done, to pace my work, changes how I approach my day. It tweaks my attitude towards one of mental peace. The many things that need to be done still need to be done of course, but my attitude helps in figuring out how to best do those tasks, maybe even enjoy myself while doing them, and making time and mental space to enjoy this festive season. We can't do it all as moms of littles, but we do a lot. Let's make the choice for our own peace this Advent.

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  1. Your reflection on this season really resonated with me, Christy. I want to do all the things, too! Thanks so much for sharing your heart. (And P.S. - loving all your winter photos. They are beautiful.)

  2. Thanks for the giveaway! I would love to win.

  3. Oh Christy, I SO needed this today! I feel so overwhelmed lately with everything! Thanks for sharing this message and helping me realize I need a little peace! Praying that you, me, and all the mamas out there can find a way to slow down a little and relax this Advent season just a little!

  4. Great post :) It can be so overwhelming! Thanks for the giveaway.

  5. Couldn't agree more with this post. I have been thinking how much more quiet or stillness we need, but the reality is with little people it may not appear outwardly as much as expected. Thanks for the reminder that it can be an inwardly calm.

  6. I wasn't able to get the discount code to work. It's obviously still a great deal, but wanted to let you know. Thanks!

    1. Beth! I'm so sorry, it was my fault - bad typo! The code that should work is HAPPYFEAST - not plural, feasts. So sorry!

    2. Thanks! I'm so excited to get these books! I've been dragging my feet for far to long--debating whether to just hold out in hopes of a Christmas gift, etc.

      By the way, I'm loving your blog and podcast! I discovered Haley from Edel and you from her. Your combination of thoughtfulness and humor encourages me every day!

  7. Waiting on this baby to come has helped me slow down and plan way less! I'd love to win a copy of Haley's book :)

  8. Calm the Jesse tree down.

    That is Classic Christy. Dang girl, I can't get enough of it.

  9. Even with the one kid at home - I'm finding this out this year. I've been doing far less, or at least far less planned out things and just letting the little activities and special treats fall when there is time and it's so much more enjoyable. On Monday we end up, spur of the moment, having time to make blue cupcakes for the Feast Day - didn't plan it, but it happened just because and it was so much more enjoyable than waking up with this "we have to get to the cupcakes mentality".

  10. This post is just what I needed today. I've been pondering the word peace a lot since the start of Advent - trying to figure out how to get more of it into our daily lives. I certainly haven't found the answer, but it is so comforting to know that there are other moms out there struggling with the same things. Thanks! <3

  11. I picked a good day to break my "non blog reading" ways. Great post, Christy! and a giveaway to boot!

  12. So good, Christy. I feel like this Advent is going well so far because I'm just not freaking out about all the things. I'm making Gus' stocking so I work on it a little every day, and because of that I haven't even started the Christmas cards but it's no biggie, right? No one is going to care if the cards come after Christmas day. Anyway, there's time and there's no need to rush and panic, like you said. Peace is more important.

  13. Such a thoughtful and insightful post! Best of luck as you choose to find mental space and peace when the physical is so hard to find! And thanks for the giveaway opportunity ;)

  14. I had one of those Elsa, "Let It Go" moments today. Tomorrow, I have a potluck at work. I committed to bringing a cake, I am supposed to dress up with everyone else and the theme is "Ugly Christmas Sweater," and tonight was my daughter's interview for First Reconciliation. Something had to give. Peace out, ugly sweater!

  15. I feel like I keep trying to slow down and yet am still busy. That's just so stressful to me! I guess it's the perpetual Advent struggle.
    Thanks to you and Haley for putting together a giveaway of her new book. I have her first one and would love a chance to win her second book. :-)

  16. Will you email me this post I'm dying over here! My poor kids are going to be ruined ;) Seriously, though, I needed this!

  17. Beautiful post. (Love the Fountains of Carrots podcast BTW!)
    ~Ruth Anne

  18. Really inspiring post. I have haleys first cook book and would love to win her second one now

  19. Love everything about the post. I've kept it saved on my tabs and am just now getting around to reading it. This is my Advent. Prayers for the rest of the season and thank you for this reminder!


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