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Nurture When Needed- Lessons of Parenting Learned While Gardening

Five months before the birth of my daughter, my days became consumed in bulbs, blooms, and denial. I studied Burgess and Burpee catalogs and trembled at “What to Expect When Expecting”. There was, however, a missing chapter: “Your Husband Will Be Consumed in Stuff Not Remotely Related to Child Rearing.”


For some men, it’s simonizing the car. For others, it’s crafting a pub shed to hide and drown anxiety in craft brews. For me, it was turning over very suitable and mowable grass for organic veggies and flowers of every shape, size, and ethnicity.

I was to be the Noah of the plant world, my yard, the ark, and my soon-to-be baby dove would have a lifetime helping me weed and classify and debug every miracle of God.

My dear, patient, and exceptionally pregnant wife Mary Jane did not share my affinity for dirt, sweat, and sunburn. “If it was up to me,” she said, “I would have a concrete garden or a bamboo backyard.”

I was shocked. When we were courting, she loved the outdoors and courtyards full of blossoms. She loved leisurely strolls in Cape May, admiring the gardens, but never the hydrangeas, which she deemed, “old lady plants.” She loved picnics by the pond near her apartment, after, of course, I cleared enough toxic Canada goose poop for my floral blanket and graduate-student feast of baguette, jam, and shame. And she loved nothing more than getting lost in the loveliness of Longwood Gardens.

When I think of us in heaven, we are sitting forever entwined near the Chimes Tower with the hint of lavender and lilac surrounding us with the gentle murmur of the cascading stream. For some reason, I thought this love of gardens would one day translate into her wanting to help make our own This Side of Paradise. Alas, such Adam and Eve communal digging and planting and reaping were not to be. Whatever shambles I made of our new yard was my mess. No wife would kneel to the rescue in bonnet, gardening gloves, and denim blue overalls (no matter how sexy I made this image appear).

I was soon over my head in enthusiasm. Alone. With only my spade as a dance partner.

One Saturday, I found “the perfect” garden center, and I spent hours with two carts, hunting and dreaming and planning my garden. I had an eighth of an acre, but in my mind’s eye, I had most of Mullica Hill, like some Southern gentleman farmer.

Before I turned solid green to mushy brown, I even considered installing a year-round greenhouse somewhere by the grill. I stacked my small sedan into a nursery, sealed with every imaginable pollen. My nose tingled. My neck tightened. My head got dizzy. Was it the fear of being responsible for a child that made me so light-headed?

“I think I’m allergic to plants,” I told my wife.

She looked at the trail of mud on the white tiles in her new home.

“I got you some beautiful roses,” I said as my apology.

She looked at the twigs doubtfully. The twigs, she knew, were not for her.

As the due date was approaching, I underestimated not only the weeds and the aphids and the Japanese beetles, but this thing called “husbandly duties,” – not the sexually enticing duties. For some reason, this baby was draining my wife’s energy, so I did more shopping and caressed more feet. I made dinner and I washed the dishes. No pregnant wife of mine was going to bend over to scrub toilet and tub.

Okay, when the great outdoors called, she did sometimes scrub and bend. I have since learned that nothing, even digging out an overgrowth of mint, should ever come before dirt inside the home. Then came the breathing classes and the birthing classes and the lectures with the lactation expert and this thing called a forty-hour a week job.

Nothing stubs more green thumbs than full-time jobs.

Madeline broke on through at the end of October, our own Halloween pumpkin, but no pumpkins grew in my patch of despair. Death and decay festooned the yard she inherited. So from her brand-new painted “Children of the World” nursery, in fire-engine red, I held Madeline and showed her her kingdom. “This looks like a scene from The Waste Land now,” I said, “but next spring… Just you wait, girl. You’ll be the prettiest flower amongst a rainbow of flowers!”

Then, as if on cue, she spat up breast milk all over me.

After a few months home with Madeline, Mary Jane started to work two days a week. On Tuesday nights, she even dared to spare two hours to renew and rejuvenate away from the demands of Old MacDonald. Her notes read something like: “Please keep lotion on Madeline’s butt! Clean in a downward motion. There’s frozen breast milk in the freezer. Reheat in boiling pot. I’ll be thinking about you guys!”

When Madeline was able to stay upright, I would place a bonneted and sun-screened slathered baby by the garden beds and show her the difference between “good plant” (petunia) and “bad plant” (chickweed).  My daughter would be my accomplice, which lasted thirty seconds. She pulled out a mum and raised the kill proudly, grinning all three teeth, to show me.

(It turns out she was her mother’s accomplice.)

I made great use of nap times. There was no need to ask why dirt covered the baby monitor, or why there was grime on Madeline. In the midst of a baby meltdown, there was no time to rinse and wash. “I don’t use any bad chemicals in my garden,” I said. “It’s all organic!”

“So Madeleine may have manure on her?”

“It’s certified organic!”

A bountiful garden may have mitigated such unfortunate encounters. After all, Mary Jane is a dietitian, and impressing her with several varieties of beans and tomatoes and cucumbers may have been a successful bargaining cornucopia, especially since I was becoming quite the culinary star in the kitchen. I had come a long way since my infamous Flaming-Scallop-and-Hazelnut Creamer-Shepard’s-Pie days.

Alas, once again, my gardening failures far outweighed my successes. Those beautiful, flaming red bushes in the spring were sticks stuck in the ground by fall. My carrots were the size of pacifiers. My peppers had no pep. And those promising hybrid tea roses in the colorful packaging? One or two blooms, and then mildew, fungi, black spot, Japanese beetles, Dengue Fever, The Black Plague, and some pest called The Wiggles.

I am, however, not one to be daunted. Those tempting seed catalogues would arrive, and I would plan my Wonderland, and then months later, I would survey my Land of Indifference, the time when time slips away, a day here, a week there, then the horrifying yellows of August and the ragweed and the sun brutal on crops and ego and pride. Season after season, year after year, that spiteful August sun spotlighted my failures. Then, at dinner, I would say, “You know, babe. Maybe next year I’ll just fill in everything with stone and start a Zen garden!”

I forgot what she said. Many words are not fit to print in a family publication, but it nearly rhymes with neuron and rings to the key of “irrational exuberance” and “dead rose bushes in old pots.”

And let me tell you: dead roses are not romantic. A running refrain in our home is: “Time to put some plants in pots and forget about them.” I hate throwing anything out. Placing plants in pots allowed hope for better behavior, at least until winter. That hope always went to compost.

Compost is a good metaphor: present failures will yield future successes. Gardeners know more about failure than most… no, after writers. Gardeners know that we only get better the more we fail: Too much potash, not enough acidity, too much wood ash in the compost, too little nitrogen, pruned bush too late, too early, hay instead of straw for compost, too much description, too much overcrowding of adverbs. Well, there’s a consequence. Dead plants, bored readers. To gardeners and writers, it’s all trial and error and Youtube tutorials.

Gardeners carry on a long tradition of failures. I take this knowledge of failure, however, and I am, not only, better prepared for the next season, but I am better prepared as a father. An infected watermelon plant that I rushed to the county co-ed for immediate consultation is much better than a neglected, infected child.

The lessons in the field carried over into the nursery, onto the playground, and into the classroom. I was able to see the big picture, to nurture when needed, and to let the damn thing alone, too, to grow at its own pace. I can anticipate what too much watering will do for my child. I know when to let the pot go dry. I know when to power wash an aphid off a rose, like a bad boyfriend.

Over time, over many seasons, I learned about south facing and north facing. I learned about nitrogen. I started composting. I started to understand science. My blueberry bushes flourished in the acidic soil, and Madeline loved the blueberries. Then the birds devoured them, and so I used netting. Then they got caught in the netting, and nothing saddens a child more than a frantic bird. 

Over time, over many seasons, and an additional, lovely child, Nancy – who loves flower arranging and cutting, but not dirt and bugs – I learned even more. Now with more land, and some more time, I am inching closer to that coveted title… Master Gardener.

Now at forty-seven, I realize that gardening and parenting are not all that different. While it is true that when you plant a carrot, you get a carrot, when you plant a kid, you never know what’s going to spring up. Thirteen years later that simple carrot could turn into a cayenne pepper. A plant placed in a time-out pot will never call you a “bad, bad gardener!”

My daughter Nancy once asked me recently if I started gardening as a distraction or as a stress reliever. “I started gardening to become a better parent,” I said. “Do you think it worked?’

She gave me a late summer bouquet from the garden. She spent a long time selecting and cutting and arranging. She called it “Remnants of Glory.” I think she answered my question.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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When you become a mama, your definition of a smooth morning undergoes a complete evolution. Now, you consider it a win if your real alarm wakes you up and you get to drink coffee while it's still warm. The not-so-smooth mornings? Well, let's face it, that's a rough way to start the day.

When the wake-up call comes early and the coffee has been forgotten in the microwave, it may seem absolutely impossible to carve out any time for yourself. But a centered, confident mama is a happier mama, and there are some simple ways to sneak self-care into your morning to ensure you're putting your best face forward.

Specializing in quick, easy and (we must say) beautiful morning makeup routines, Woosh Beauty understands busy mornings, and has created an 'everything-in-one' makeup palette that is our new secret weapon for feeling like we made the effort to center ourselves, too.

Inspired by Woosh Beauty, here are five ways we've given our morning beauty routines a self-care makeover.

1. Make time (and space) for calm

As moms, time is priceless and that's especially true in the morning. Even if you're racing against the clock, it's worth it (trust us) to hit the pause button for just five minutes before tackling all the to-dos on your list.

With The Fold Out Face from Woosh Beauty, you have all the makeup you need (coverage and color) in one compact, portable palette. That means no scrambling to find your concealer. No opening, closing, then reopening and closing eyeshadows and powders.

Most importantly, no need to set up shop in front of your vanity/bathroom mirror/designated makeup space while keeping one eye on a constantly moving child. The Fold Out Face goes wherever you go and gives you everything you need in the flip of one flap—so you really can focus on yourself.

2. Create rituals that boost confidence

Even if you're going on your third day with the same yoga pants (they're so comfy!), it's important to make time in the morning to do something that will put a confident pep in your step.

While makeup has likely been part of your routine for years, motherhood can take a toll on your skin in new ways—which is why having 13 full-sized cosmetics, made from luxurious high-performing mineral-based formulas, allows you to erase the appearance of under-eye circles, perfect any imperfections and give yourself an effortless glow—all in less than five minutes.

So even if you don't have time to meticulously apply makeup, you can look and feel like you did. 😉

3. Allow our minds to drift 

For most of us, mornings mean going from zero to 60 in about five seconds flat. Before fully immersing yourself in the obligations of the day, it's nice to have just a few minutes to allow your mind to drift away from the to-do list. Woosh Beauty makes having mindspace while checking off "put on makeup" possible by numbering the order in which the cosmetics in The Fold Out Face should be applied.

4. Savor little luxuries

Before you go spend the morning driving kids around to the tune of nursery rhymes and eat a lunch of PB&J crusts, it can make a world of difference to your outlook to lavish in something that is all yours.

We love that Woosh Beauty makes that simple with The Essential Brush Set, a luxe collection of double-ended brushes that are numbered to correspond with the steps in the Fold Out Face, and come in a soft storage bag to keep them away from kids who may mistake them as paint brushes.

5. Be kinder to ourselves

Sometimes, a healthy self-voice for the rest of the day starts with rituals that remind us we're doing good for our bodies, too. By using Woosh Beauty products in your morning beauty routine, which are free of parabens, sulfates, gluten and fragrance—not to mention they are animal cruelty-free—you aren't just applying makeup, you're applying products and using tools that you can feel good about.

In the morning, a seemingly little thing like taking a few minutes for self-care is really a big thing that will continue to pay off with a beautiful outlook throughout the day—and with The Fold-Out Face from Woosh Beauty, it pays off with a beautiful look throughout the day, too.

Motherly readers can receive a 20% discount site wide using the code MOTHERLY at checkout.


This article was sponsored by Woosh Beauty. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Just weeks after announcing her pregnancy and letting the world know that's she's determined to keep working while she's expecting, Amy Schumer dropped some bad news Thursday.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote, noting that she's had to cancel upcoming shows in Texas due to the condition.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum (also known as HG) is a rare but serious pregnancy complication, and it's really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


It looks like Schumer is getting the medical help she obviously needs. In her Instagram post she wrote, "the doctors and nurses taking great care of me and Tati."

She seems to be getting IV fluids (she's probably super dehydrated) and hopefully her team can find a way to get her some relief with Zofran or another form of therapy.

Schumer says she feels very lucky to be pregnant, but HG can make a mama feel downright unlucky. As Schumer notes in her post, most mamas feel better in their second trimester, but HG can make it feel even worse than the first. "I've been even more ill this trimester," she says.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

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There's a lot on a mama's to-do list, from running around with the kids to managing her mental load. That's why we love subscription services that do the remembering for us... because mom brain is real.

There are so many on the market that'll fit just about anything you need. Maybe it's a recurring option so you never run out of your household goods—or coffee—or it's toys that streamline your little's learning during the first year. Or, you just want to treat yourself to a little goodie each month.

Whatever you're looking for, here are some of our favorite services:

1. Monti Kids

Sure, it seems like you could just gaze at your newborn all day—but sometimes it's nice to mix it up. With toys tailored to the development of children from the age of zero up to three, the quarterly subscription box from Monti Kids helps integrate Montessori-style learning into the home through a series gradually advancing toys.

Not only are the items premium quality, but they are also thoughtfully selected to stimulate your child's development. Win-win.

Monti Kids, $297 every 3 months

SUBSCRIBE

[In partnership with Monti Kids]

2. Audible

While you might want to devour a good book, finding the time to sit down and have a few minutes of quiet isn't always possible. That's why we're obsessed with Audible, a service by Amazon that lets you download audiobooks and listen to them anywhere—in the carpool line, during a workout, while you're in the shower.

Each month you'll get a new credit that can be used towards an endless array of options. Use this link to score two free audiobooks with a trial.

Audible Subscription, $14.95 per month after 30 day trial

BUY

3. Stitch Fix Kids

Kids grow out of clothes so fast so instead of running to the store to purchase new items every few months, Stitch Fix sends 8-12 handpicked items to try. Tell them about your kids' personality, style and budget, then get your box. Pay for what you like and then send back the rest!

Stitch Fix Kids, Stitch Fix, $20 per box, items are typically $10.00-$35.00

SUBSCRIBE

4. WePlenish

While this one isn't technically its own subscription service, it's pretty similar. The smart container stores your favorite coffee and once you connect it to your Wi-Fi, it begins to update product levels.

Simply link to a consumable (we love using Amazon) and it will automatically reorder it when supplies run low. No more morning panic that there's no coffee left or having to remember to add to your cart.

WePlenish Java, Amazon, $39.99 (consumables prices vary)

SUBSCRIBE

5. Happy Legs Club

If you always seem to forget to pick up new razors, Happy Legs Club is there to help. You'll get to select from one of their premium razors, select your ideal delivery schedule, and never have to add 'razors' to your shopping list again. Plus, we love the free shipping!

Happy Legs Club, starting at $12.00 a cycle

SUBSCRIBE

6. Little Feminist Book Club

For the littles in your life, this book club membership will give them something to look forward to each month. Each box features one or two books about strong female characters and/or people of color, hand-selected by a team of teachers, librarians and parents. Then you get various activities that encourage kids to explore and guide conversations.

Little Feminist Book Club, $63.00 every 3 months

SUBSCRIBE

7. KidPass

Finding new activities for your little has never been easier. A KidPass membership works with thousands of brands so you can enjoy indoor playspaces, sports, museums, zoos, and classes with your child.

We love the flexible plans so you can choose ones that work best for your family—plus, credits rollover for 90 days for those busy months. You can enjoy a free month trial here.

KidPass, KidPass, $49.00-$189.00 per month

SUBSCRIBE

8. Shaker & Spoon

For the cocktail lovers, this is such a fun subscription. Each month, they'll send you everything you need to make about 12 fabulous drinks, including recipes, syrups, bitters, mixers, garnishes and citrus—all centered around one type of alcohol. No alcohol is included in the box, but one bottle will be enough so you can work with what you have at home.

Shaker & Spoon, Shaker & Spoon, $40-50 per month

SUBSCRIBE

9. New Wash

For a cleaner, greener new way to cleanse your hair, New Wash combines essential oils and natural saturated cleansers to keep your hair fresh. Most shampoos use detergents, which strip your hair of the good oils that your hair actually needs (which is why you probably have to use conditioner, too). We love the canister and travel bottle that comes with it!

New Wash Subscription Option, $90.00 per ship (you select frequency)

SUBSCRIBE

10.  Disney Princess Boxes

If you have a princess (or prince) in your life, they're sure to obsess over Disney's new Princess Boxes. Every other . month, a box of magical treasures will arrive at your door with Disney store costumes, a read-along storybook and CD and stickers and surprises.

Disney Princess Enchanting Experience Box, starting at $49.99

SUBSCRIBE

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Childcare was the number one stressor for me as I prepared to return to work. It's something I had to think about early on because if I wanted to go the daycare route, I had to get on waiting lists... a YEAR in advance. Yes, you heard that right... ONE YEAR in advance to find childcare. Daycare was always what I thought I wanted for my baby—I didn't even consider a nanny mostly because of the cost.

However, once I started touring daycares, my heart was breaking. I couldn't imagine leaving my baby with strangers at 4 months old. Strangers that didn't know what each of her cries meant, strangers that wouldn't pay attention to her 24/7 because there were eight other babies in the room, strangers that I didn't know or trust.

These are all the wild thoughts that went through my head:

"What if she cries and no one picks her up to soothe her?"

"What if they pick her up and can't soothe her?"

"Will they remember that she needs her pacifier to fall asleep?"

"What if she gets hand, foot mouth?"

"Will she be sick all the time? Daycares are germ fests right?!"

"Will she be happy and loved?"

"Why am I letting strangers spend more time with my baby vs. me?"

"Shouldn't I stay home to take care of my baby for at least the first year?"

"She's so helpless--she can't talk or tell them what she wants--she's only 4 months!"

I could go on forever. I was a mess. I remember finally finding a daycare my husband and I liked. I went back to give them a deposit and when I walked in, I saw a baby laying in her crib crying and no one paying attention to her.

I ran out of there so fast, security deposit in hand and in tears telling my husband, "I can't do this!"

I took a break from the daycare search and tried to focus on enjoying every minute of maternity leave with Liv. About a month before I was heading back to work, I got a call from the daycare I originally wanted (a nice little year-plus waitlist).

We immediately signed up and secured our spot and I felt so much better. I still hated that I had to leave my 4-month-old baby in the care of someone else, but knew this place had a good reputation. It also gave me comfort to know my sister-in-law worked at a daycare when she was younger, and I knew how much she loved and cared for each of those babies (thank you for helping reassure me Allison).

To prepare for heading back to work, I did a couple trial daycare runs. For the first trial run, I planned on finally doing some self-care—getting my nails done, doing some shopping and maybe even working out. I walked out the door after dropping her off and immediately burst into tears. I made it to one store, got a coffee and was already headed back to the daycare 45 minutes later. The second time was a little better because I had a plan. I went to an event and it helped get my mind off worrying about her 24/7. I made it three hours that day... baby steps right?

I had so much anxiety about leaving her for the full day that I made the daycare employees in the infant room a "instruction manual" on Olivia. I remember emailing it to my mom and sister saying, "Is this okay to send to daycare? Will they think I'm crazy?"

My sister Lindsey said, "No why would they think that?! It's perfect. Olivia is your baby and you say whatever you want."

My mom said "No that's great! At the bottom put 'first time mother'—they will laugh but can use your info." Their responses were perfect and exactly what I needed to hear at the time. Thank you both.

For your viewing pleasure, here is a copy of the doc:

Once I was back at work, I thought about Liv 24/7. Is she okay at daycare? Is she crying? Does she miss me and need me? I counted down the minutes to get back to her and spent the evenings holding her.

Daycare was harder than I thought; coordinating pick up/drop offs, trying to get us out the door to get to work in time, planning bottles and her food for the day, etc. I was a hot mess and in tears most days.

Yes, I forgot bottles and jackets and extra clothes frequently. Yes, she got sick A LOT the first year she was there. I started to wonder if I had chosen the right option for Liv so I started looking into a nanny option.

I started a Nanny vs. Daycare pros and cons list (for those of you that know me, you know I do this for all important life decisions) which went a little something like this:

Pros of Nanny:

  • 1:1 interaction
  • Sick less often!
  • Less stress for mom
  • Help with house + meals
  • Cheaper if I ever have a second child
  • Not overstimulated
  • Another adult that loves Liv
  • Help with grocery shopping
  • Consistency for Liv
  • Works with my schedule
  • Not learning bad habits from other kids
  • Better quality food/more control
  • High turnover at daycare
Pros of Daycare:
  • Interaction with other kids at daycare
  • Social skills
  • Safety in numbers
  • Structured space and hours
  • More cost efficient

Everything except cost was leading me towards a nanny (double what daycare was), but in my gut I always knew I wanted to go the daycare route. It was the stress of figuring out this new working mom life that made me want to change my mind (along with some outsider's opinions).

I decided to stick with daycare and we moved Liv to one closer to our house. My husband and family members were able to help now with pick up/drop off so it wasn't all on me. As she got older (she's 19 months old now), she didn't get sick as often and I loved watching her play with the other kids. While it was hard in the beginning, it HAS gotten easier and I know I made the right choice.

For any moms struggling to choose childcare, I want you to know that whatever choice you make, make the best choice for you and your baby. No one else. And there is no wrong choice. You will figure it out, you will get through this, and your baby will thrive either way. Some days will be harder than others, but the most important thing is that you love your baby.

Originally posted on The Returnity Project.

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Once Thanksgiving arrives, everyone's lives get a little more chaotic. There are holiday concerts and parties coming up and in between are the visits to family, the gift giving and all of the meals.

If you're already feeling a bit overwhelmed, here's a simple strategy to follow, mama.

1. Lay out your plan for the next 6 weeks

Your plan should include:

  • A calendar with all the events you and your family are signed up to attend. You might want to color code them by priority. Green could mean "must attend" while red could mean "optional attendance." You want to give yourself some wiggle room for the unexpected. After all, it's only when you are at your busiest that something will happen to throw a wrench into your plans.
  • To-do items that aren't date-sensitive, but can't be forgotten in the schedule. This could be making time to go to the Christmas tree farm, if you're getting a fresh tree, or putting up outside decorations. Or, it might be letting extended family know your plans for Christmas morning.
  • Gift shopping list, including where you will get each item from. The sooner you can start shopping, the more likely you are to find what you're looking for at the right price and in stock. If you're shopping some Black Friday deals, online or in person, the list can guide you so you're not overspending. If you're hiding gifts from the kids, make sure you note where you put them! There's nothing worse than getting to Christmas Eve and you have no idea where you stashed the presents.
  • Meal plan for days that you have friends or family at home. This can mean your own family, too. It's not just about planning the family dinner on a certain holiday, like Thanksgiving or Hanukkah, but also the days before and after. The more you can have at the ready for busy days, the less likely you will be to rely on the local pizza delivery place.

2. Stock up on what you can

Make a list of items you know you use each year and stock up on those. For example, if you burn the cranberry sauce Thanksgiving morning, you'll be glad that you stocked up on two cans of it and have extras handy in the pantry.

Some ideas of what to add to your cart:

  • Canned goods
  • Water
  • Wine, beer, drinks and mix
  • Wrapping paper, tape and gift bags
  • Extra gifts—have a few bottles of wine or chocolates in gift bags handy for that unexpected gift from the neighbor or crossing guard.
  • Extras of most-used items, like toiletries or favorite snacks
  • Firewood for the fireplace

3. Strategically decorate your home

Making the switch from autumn Thanksgiving decor to holiday mode may leave you scrambling, but it doesn't have to. Ideally, have plastic bins with decorations for each holiday in separate ones so you can put away one set while pulling out the next one, quickly and easily.

They'll also be that much easier to find next year. These can be stored away when they're not being used in a basement closet or storage area, safe and sound. For minimalist mamas, select only your favorite decorations and find ways to incorporate them throughout various holidays.

4. Be realistic when it comes to buying gifts

If you have a large family, you can suggest a Secret Santa method of gifts so your list will be more condensed. But even if you have to buy for everyone, you can plan to get it done in advance.

Leverage online shopping so you don't have to arrange childcare or deal with crowds, or plan to set aside a day that's just for you. Don't overbuy for kids too soon if possible. Kids might change their wish list in the weeks before the holiday. Many mamas found that implementing a three gift Christmas, or an experience gift, can lessen the stress and leave the kids happier.

5. Prepare for gatherings + in-law visits


If you host family or friends during the holidays, get some things done in advance so you're not worrying about them in the moment.

  • Have extras of toothbrushes and toiletries
  • Set aside guest laundry (towels, sheets, etc.) so you don't have to worry about laundry
  • Check with family about allergies or foods that they don't enjoy before you set the menus and buy ingredients
  • Make room in closets for extra coats, boots and clothing
  • Give yourself a present and have a cleaning service come in and do a thorough job of cleaning the house in the days before your mother-in-law arrives
Pro tip: A really nice way to greet people and make them feel at home is to have a basket of slippers in their space or lay out chocolate on their pillow.

Originally posted by Modular Closets.

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