Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Joy-Filled Christmas: Clutter-Free Christmas

This is the part of a series of posts 
on having a joy-filled Christmas. 
Access the rest of the posts here.

One of the biggest things that steals the joy from the holidays, at least around here, is clutter. When clutter happens, mom starts getting stressed and frustrated, and that is never good news for anyone. So how to keep the Christmas season clutter-free? With gift wrapping, decorations, baking and crafts, it seems like the month of December was made for clutter and messiness.

adfhI don’t have all the answers. In all honesty, this blog series is for me as much as anyone. I love holidays with children. But I really struggle being at peace when I am surrounded by clutter, even ‘good’ clutter like cookie baking or crafting mess. But I don’t want to avoid all those fun activities, either. Now that we are back in a pretty small house with no extra room for hiding a mess, it is even more difficult for me to deal with. So I am going to attempt to simplify by focusing on what really matters to us as a family.

I plan to ask the kids what is more important to them, and focus on that. I am guessing they will want to do some crafting, baking and frosting cut-out cookies, and go sledding. They will also want to use our traditional count-down calendar with activities to do. That part is a little tricky this year, since they will be spending Christmas and a couple of weeks at their father’s house.

Here are some really basic organization principles I am going to try to keep in mind during the upcoming season.

Clean it Up. We have all heard it before. When you move on to something else, clean up your mess. Even if you aren’t finished with it. This is a hard one for me, especially when I am “going to get right back to it”. Inevitably, it is much longer then I expect before I am working at it again, and the mess frustration starts to build. Even just stashing the mess in a basket or drawer keeps it out of eyesight and helps with the messiness.

Keep it Simple. I really don’t have to bake 25 dozen cookies at once. Or decorate the house, tree, and hang lights all in one afternoon. Smaller projects sometimes mean splitting it up into several sessions, but if is means I can finish and clean up before I get burnt out, it’s worth it.

Keep up with the Routine. This is a hard one for me. I love having a routine. But I always want to just let it go when fun things are happening. I end up regretting it later when my counters are covered with dishes, there is nothing for supper, and the laundry pile is threatening an avalanche.

Don’t go to Bed with a Dirty Kitchen. Yeah. This one really doesn’t happen here. I am still trying, I see the point, I love it when it happens. But… Yeah. When I am tired, I want to sleep. Not clean.

Limit Projects. The kids (especially the girls) love to DO things. They get a ton of enjoyment from baking, crafting, and projects. I really have to keep them focused on finishing one before they start another, keeping them small (no cookie marathons!) and cleaning up after every. single. time.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Joy-filled Christmas: Pretty Wrappings

I love wrapping gifts. I’m not very good at it, but I love doing it. When I wrap presents they typically have crooked rough edges and the corners aren’t matching. They sometimes have patches where the paper didn’t quite fit. I hardly ever use bows, and when I do they are just the cheap stick-on kind.

DSCN5434On the other hand, I have seen some really lovely gifts. They are just stunning. Edges folded neatly under. No tape showing. Huge hand-made bows and everything perfectly centered and creased. You don’t even want to open them. I love gifts like that.

But if I handed a present like that to my children, they would rip all that loveliness into shreds because they know that something better waits inside. Something intended to show all the love the giver holds for that child. No time is wasted looking at the outside when the real treasure is waiting underneath.

That is the kind of Christmas I want to give to my children. I don’t want it to be about wrappings and bows, and doing all the right things. I don’t want it to be about the best cookies, prettiest gifts, most festive decorations, or perfectly hosted parties. I don’t want to worry about how clean the house is in our Christmas pictures. I don’t want to think about how perfectly the children are cutting out the cookie dough or how well their Christmas dresses match. I don’t want to try and make our wrappings perfect. Because the real treasure isn’t found there.

But I really want our season to be about beauty, family, celebration, joy.  I want to enjoy every second because that second will never come again. I want to treasure the look on the toddler’s face as he watches the tree lights come on the first time. I want to enjoy every flour-filled minute of cookie messiness. I want to go sledding and not care how cold I am. I want to spend the evenings listening to Christmas hymns and not caring how much we DID that day, because what we ARE is where the treasure is found.


I want the quiet to ponder, as I do every year, the girl who sacrificed everything to birth the Savior of the world. I want to watch the falling snow and remember the family who struggled through the long miles to Bethlehem. I want to remember the incredible gift of the Creator wrapping himself in frail humanity and walking among wretchedness.  I want to sing the songs and pray the prayers and live and love.


This Christmas let’s forget the wrappings and enjoy the treasure.

This is the first in a series of posts 
on having a joy-filled Christmas. 
Access the rest of the posts here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Joy-filled Christmas

Christmas can be a stressful time, especially for mothers. As we try to make the season full of perfect moments for our children we often forget that what they want most of all is a happy mom.  I pray that this short series on keeping the joy and peace in Christmas will bless your family this season.  It will have gift ideas, reading suggestions, traditional things to do, and a focus on keeping the season relaxing and fun for everyone- including Mom!

Pretty Wrappings 

Less Clutter, More Peace

Keeping your Joy

Holiday Traditions

Blessings through Music and Books

Keeping Away the Gimmes 

Twaddle-Free Gifts for Littles

Twaddle-Free Gifts for Girls

Twaddle-Free Gifts for Boys

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Make-over Complete

After a couple of weeks and a lot of trial and error, our blog has a brand new look. We even re-named it and created a Facebook page! If you haven’t already, please go ‘like’ us so you can get all the new posts on your Facebook wall. You can also add your e-mail for updates that way, if you prefer.

I mentioned that there would be something exciting coming in December (exciting to me anyway!) and I am ready to announce it. I am going to write a short series called A Peace-Filled Christmas. It will have gift ideas, reading suggestions, traditional things to do, and a focus on keeping the season relaxing and fun for everyone- including Mom! I will be posting the first in the series soon, so keep an eye out and don’t forget to follow A Thoughtful Spot!

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Under Construction

We are going to be changing, updating, and generally making-over this blog during the next few weeks, so please forgive our messiness! Also, after our updates are all finished, look for a fun surprise in December!
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