Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

Top 5 Gifts for Parents of Babies and Toddlers

There are so many material things that are more than wonderful to receive when you’re starting or growing a family:  baby clothes, socks, booties, hats, toys, blankets, baby carriers, diaper bags, books, picture frames, bibs, diaper cloths, baby monitors, etc.  I’m enormously grateful for having received most of the above through baby showers and hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law.  All of these wonderful gifts have enabled us to keep our angels dressed in every season, entertained, and read to from an early age.

Here’s some other gift ideas that are more about the parents, but the relief these gifts provide for Mommy and Daddy will ultimately mean more emotional capacity to provide loving, patient care of their little ones around the clock.

1)  A FOOD TREE. For parents following the birth of a child — organizing a Food Tree is a wonderful gift.  A Food Tree is essentially a group of friends and family members gathering together to take turns bringing meals to a family in need of support. This was an amazing experience for us following the birth of our second baby. We were so overwhelmed with appreciation for the lovely dinners that were brought to us from our friends that we threw a Gratitude party for them five months later. I recommend setting up an online calendar system.  This makes coordinating the different dates easy, and everyone can see the types of meals being delivered to avoid duplications.  Care Calendar is great.  Mama True offers some great additional tips on  how to go about setting up a food tree that include questions to ask the recipients that can be shared with their community of friends.

2) GIFT CERTIFICATE FOR ERRAND-RUNNING SERVICE.  This might be the next greatest gift after a Food Tree.  My local favorite:  PunchList.  I’m sure most cities have one that you can find on Google.  Getting into the car with babies and toddlers isn’t generally a relaxing experience.  To be able to call someone to pick up something you need while you tend to the tots in the comfort of your home.  WOW.

3) GIFT CERTIFICATE FOR MAID SERVICE. I can’t think of a single mom with small children that wouldn’t be filled with appreciation for this gift. Looking at my dirty floors right now I might cry tears of joy and gratitude for this one.

4) BABYSITTING. Just an hour or two out of the house can do wonders for over-stretched parents needing to recharge their batteries. And when you don’t have to worry about a dinner and movie date costing $100 with baby-sitting, you might be more inclined to get out.

5) GIFT CERTIFICATE FOR RESTAURANTS THAT DELIVER. You can opt to find one restaurant that delivers and get a certificate directly from them, or find a delivery service that will provides your friend or family member with options.  Austin Service is Dine on Demand.

santa_sleighOK, so with the exception of the Food Tree, I think I just wrote down my Wish List for Santa.  Less than a week until Christmas and I’m still conflicted how to present this mythical dude to my toddler.  Apparently there’s part of me that still wants to believe in him myself!  Santa? Santa? Are you there?

Anyone seen the Santa tracking web site?  Adorable.

Posted in AP & Self Care, Empathetic Parenting, Holiday | No Comments

5 Tips for Managing Holiday Season Stress

1)  CHANGE THE QUESTION. I love this little tool.  When the questions swimming around my mind on any given day send me down the Anxious Mama path, I attempt — and not always successfully — to redirect myself with a new line of questioning that can only produce positive answers.  Instead of, “How the hell am I going to get everything done?” or “Why does everything feel hard right now?” which tend to be spiraling-into-no-where-good type questions, try, “How can I make this fun?” or “What’s perfect about this moment?”

holiday_peace_postage_stamp_navy_blue-p172633630232926505anrsa_4002) RECONSIDER YOUR “HAVE TO” LIST. I’ve had huge resistance to letting go of my “have to’s” in the past.  “But I have to send Holiday cards to everyone!”  “We have to have a tree!”  “We have to send gifts for all of our extended family!”   “We have to go to the tree lighting and the charity event and the cookie exhange and the company party and the school gathering and the concert……”  What if you didn’t have to do anything?  Because truly you don’t!

What could you take off your list this year and feel OK, and possibly even good about?  This year, out of necessity, I’m cutting my Christmas card list down to 40 and using extra cards I’ve saved or been gifted from years past;  we’re buying a cute little $25 Charlie Brown tree that I’m sure our tots will love decorating as much or more than the standard; and we’re limiting gifts to one per child — nieces, nephew and our own.

3) GET SUPPORT.  If you’re currently on an “ain’t got no disposable income” budget like us, finding support can be a little tricky. But not impossible!!  Trades and barters work wonders.  You can trade babysitting with one of your girlfriends with children.  Or…..another strategy for mostly free babysitting, you can offer to make dinner and rent a movie for friend(s) without children. After dinner they can enjoy a movie at your place and man the baby monitor while you get out of the house.

And last but not least, if you do have a bit of money on hand to create some support systems for yourself,  I suggest two things in addition to babysitting.  ONE: an errand-running service.  A magic little elf to manage shopping, wrapping, trips to the post office, help with decorating, deliveries to friends… name it, they do it.  Local Austin favorite:  Punchlist.  TWO:  A Slow Family Living class.  This Monday, Carrie and Bernadette are offering a teleclass from 7:15-9:15 Central Time called, “Creating Your Slow Holiday” for $35. Check it out.

4) REMEMBER TO PLAY.  A fairly standard scene in our house is me cooking or 1/2-ass cleaning while holding baby and feeding toddler and checking messages intermittently on the iPhone and attempting a conversation with my husband with 18 interruptions from the toddler.  All we need is a barking dog and some loud traffic noise and we are the 80’s Calgon commercial daily — sans the luxurious bubble bath.

I’m considering the idea of scheduling”100% FUN” time every day where I completely drop the ongoing to-do list and give 100% of my attention to simply playing with my girls. For a toddler, to receive intense, hyper-focused attention for even 10 minutes can do wonders for filling their emotional cup.  And her happiness is truly my happiness too.  Today, we spent 10 minutes dancing outside together, marveling at the tiny snow flakes and trying to catch them on our tongues. Pure, mutual bliss. And so simple! This time of year is meant to be magical and fun so I choose to find ways to make it so every day.

5) MOVE YOUR BODY.  It’s amazing how easy it is to shift a state of mind this way.  I know I stated a goal in an earlier self care post about getting outside and moving my body with walking or running at least 3 times/week.  Um. Yeah.  Haven’t really come close to that.  YET!  I have at least ten solid excuses for why this hasn’t happened.  But truth be told, I need to come to terms with the fact that everything comes down to priorities and choices.  I’ve chosen sleep or work or caring for sick kids.  But I know in my heart of hearts that even the littlest bit of exercise does wonders.  Absolute wonders.  Bring on the endorphin release high!  And remember, a little movement goes a long way. No one can stay stressed out for more than two seconds when they simply stop everything and shake their ass.

Other tricks of your own to share?  Please send them my way!

Posted in AP & Self Care, Empathetic Parenting, Holiday Stress | No Comments

Guiding Children to Associate Holiday Season with Giving: 10 Ways to Give in Austin

Leave it to Wikipedia to present a great page on the origin of Santa including early Christian and pagan origins and his evolution in America, along with old and new rituals, criticism, etc.  According to, “It is said that [St. Nicholas] gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick.”

Somehow, in recent history at least, children have come to associate Christmas with receiving a shitload of presents.  Period.  They may also love the magic of holiday lights and music and, perhaps even gain an appreciation for the story of Jesus’ birth.  But mostly, it appears to be about the presents.

Honestly, I’m still undecided how the heck to explain Santa yet because I don’t like the idea of lying to them. But I also don’t want to be the hum-bug Scrooge Mama of our neighborhood either.  I’ll keep you posted since time is ticking and I’ve got a 3 year-old fully ready for whatever story we present. More than anything else, I am clear on wanting my girls to remember Christmas as a really special time of year with family and friends in which we give to others that have needs greater than ours.

Here’s my short list of giving opportunities in Austin over the holidays.  There are many, many opportunities to sponsor a child or a family.  We did so last year and were able to deliver presents to the family ourselves, which I think is particularly valuable for children to fully experience the act of giving. (more…)

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Posted in Holiday | 3 Comments


  • You are currently browsing the archives for the Holiday category.

  • Categories



    Follow Me



    Places to go


Art by Erika Hastings at


    Add us to your site!


Click to get the code!