Wouldn’t it be nice if we could choose the exact day we want to birth our children before even getting pregnant? We could set dates of arrivals to not conflict with other holidays and important dates in our lives. Honestly, this almost sounds like a futuristic possibility, but for now, women continue to have babies (planned or not) and they come when they come.
My three kids were all born within two months of the Christmas season: October, December and February. If I could have chosen their birth months, it would not have been any of those. Nothing against those months, but I feel like absolute chaos commences in October with holiday planning, home décor changes and gift forecasting. All three of my kids share their birthday banner and balloon decorations with our home’s Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s decorations.
I’m buying Halloween costumes amidst birthday gift purchases for my oldest daughter. I’m buying all the Christmas gifts while also buying birthday gifts for my son. Which toy for which celebration?! And, I’m overseeing classroom Valentine card signing and buying class party supplies while buying yet more birthday gifts for my middle child. I feel like I’m running in circles from Oct-Feb.
If you’re in my shoes or are about to be, here are a few tips that help me keep my sanity:
- Plan ahead of time. Whenever my kids, and anyone else I buy gifts for, mentions something they like or want, I add it to my Notes app under a folder called Gift Ideas. This allows me to pull up my list when it comes time to buy gifts. I don’t have to reach back into the depths of my brain from a conversation I had four months prior only to not recall the request and be mad at myself for not writing it down.
- Spread out the purchases. Using my Gift Idea list, I can buy gifts throughout the year, especially for items I know my kids won’t change their mind about. You know you’re going to put a gift card in each kid’s stocking? Add one to your cart on random trips to Target or the grocery store. Placing an Amazon order? Add one extra item that will be used for a birthday in three months. I hate getting to October-December and feeling like I’m spending all our money on three kid Christmases and three kid birthdays.
- You don’t have to throw a birthday party every year. I have to hear complaints about this from my kids all the time, but I prevail! This doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate. We may still go out to eat or invite grandparents over or let them pick a friend for a sleepover, but I will not rent out a venue every year x3. I know a venue with friends also means cake, pizza, birthday plates and napkins, goody bags, drinks and maybe more if you just don’t know where to stop. My rule is we celebrate big on odd-numbered ages from 1-9 and then special ages like 10, 13 & 16. There are ways to make kids feel special on their big day without inviting their entire class to a trampoline park every single year, especially when it always coincides with the expenses of another holiday.
- Share gift ideas with others. I come from a very generous gift-giving family. I had three extended families growing up, so between my parents, three sets of grandparents and five sets of aunts and uncles my gift pile at the end of Christmas day looked like I owned an entire aisle at Toys R Us. Genetics are strong. I now suffer from this same gift-giving tendency. I want to get it all for them! One way to restrain is to give some ideas to others. Usually, my mom and mother-in-law ask for gift ideas for the kids. And if it is a party year, I may get asked by my kids’ friends’ moms. Share those cheaper gift ideas with them to spread the spend!
- Purge. Having the two biggest gift-giving holidays so close means an influx of many new toys and gadgets to fill up their already packed bedrooms. Usually sometime before Christmas (Thanksgiving break is a good time), we do a purge. Books that are too baby-ish, toys they no longer play with, stuffed animals no longer loved, clothes that no longer fit – we try to clear some space for the new things coming in. And they can feel good knowing those old items will either be donated or later sold at a garage sale for other kids to enjoy.