Planning in advance for the holidays
As I mentioned recently, I’ve been using a new tool, One Bite At A Time, the eBook from Simple Mom. So far bites like “doing the most dreaded task first”, “making a monthly budget” and “using the envelope system” has been going well. Most days I have been able to recognize the task I don’t want to do and will put off all day and into the next and have done my best to make it happen. One day it was arranging childcare and going in for my gestational diabetes test, another it was catching up on some bookkeeping I do for our church that I had fallen behind on and was not looking forward to having to tackle. By making sure I got up, gave the kids breakfast and left the house immediately to do these tasks I was done the most dreaded part of my day before noon and was definitely more productive with my afternoon.
Or at least I was able to take a nap.
Some days it’s been smaller jobs, but just as dreaded, like cleaning up the kitchen first thing when I let myself go to bed without finishing the dishes the night before or folding the mountain of laundry that had been taking over our bedroom. The important thing was, I didn’t want to do them, I made myself complete them before moving on to anything else (there are exceptions to this rule involving make sure you start your day on a positive foot but that’s a later bite) and it did have a positive impact on my day.
As far as a monthly budget goes, we already had one but I hadn’t been very actively involved in it. Occasionally I would check the google doc J and I share to see how much we had spent but I was barely ever up to date and often made purchases having no idea for sure if it would put us over. So recently J had asked me to get involved and make a bigger effort to stick to the budget, especially since I do 99% of the grocery, clothing and home needs shopping.
The biggest part of me improving in this area was moving to a cash envelope system. I’m on my second month of working with this system and I’m slowly getting the hang of it. I still forget to bring enough cash and end up having to use my debit card, keep track of the receipts and do the math later, but it is helping me stay on top of how much I’m spending. I’m hoping to be able to work exclusively with cash (excluding online purchases which I do often) within the next couple months so I won’t have so much post-shopping work to do with receipts.
But I wasn’t really planning on talking too much about the first three bites on my list, which are ongoing and I wouldn’t say totally mastered yet, because I want to get going on the forth bite which is Planning in Advance for the Holidays. I’ve worked on this is years past but understandably it really has to happen this year as I will either have a brand new baby or possibly BE having that brand new baby on Christmas Day.
And I can’t let this fact stop me from getting in the Christmas spirit, however reduced it may have to be this year.
I have more to say about how my perspective on Christmas has been developing over the past few years, and that post is coming as soon as I have a more concentrated chunk of time to sit and express as best I can something that is hard to put into words. For now, I want to speak more practically about planning well so I can bless those I love with gifts, time and food even if I’m a little preoccupied on the big day.
The tips Simple Mom suggests are not overly structured, but include ideas such as:
- Shop in advance
- Make a list
- Set limits on people you will by for
- Set limits on quantity you’ll by for each person
- Shop online
- Start about six weeks ahead to be done by Dec 25 (I’ll need to bump this up)
- Check out all the resources for holiday planning on simplemom.com
So as I begin to sit down and look at my Christmas plans, I’m interested to know if you guys have any tips for getting shopping done early, staying on budget or tackling other holiday stresses/desires early? What are your tricks for making the holidays more enjoyable and stress-free?