A Holiday Bucket List for Busy Moms

I don’t know about you, but as the holiday season approaches I begin to see visions of sparkly Christmas trees, impressive gingerbread houses, and perfectly decorated living spaces dancing in my head. From about Halloween to December 1st, the perfect holiday season lives in my imagination–it’s so perfect and pristine! Little do I know that as soon as I try to turn the vision into reality (around December 1 or so) my daydream becomes a nightmare.

It becomes a nightmare because my Christmas tree isn’t as sparkly as I imagined. My gingerbread house will. not. stay standing. (Does royal icing really even work as an adhesive?) And my house is decorated with mismatched socks, lost homework papers, and flyers for upcoming school concerts I will inevitably forget about until the night before. (Where are those black dress pants and white shirt my kid must wear twice a year?!)

Then a few years ago I realized my nightmare was avoidable.

All I had to do was lower. my. expectations. It’s a simple idea that’s hard for me to remember. What will my mom friends think if the Christmas ornaments aren’t all color coordinated? What will the neighbors say if my twinkling lights aren’t perfectly twinkly? What will my children say if I don’t bake my great grandma’s famous sugar cookies to set out for Santa at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve? I’ve come to believe my children, neighbors, and friends will say and think–wait for it–NOTHING. My children don’t care, and my neighbors and mom friends are also driving themselves crazy with the same questions.

If I lower my expectations, the only person who is likely to notice is me (and my blood pressure).

Moms, we’re busy. No one’s tree is as sparkly, no one’s gingerbread house stands without glue, and if your friend’s house looks clean, check the closet–I bet they shoved everything in there as you were ringing the doorbell.

One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and our families this year is to lower our expectations this holiday season.

Let me suggest a new Holiday Bucket List this year–one for busy, real life moms.


Kate is the mom to Jack (2006), Liz (2007), and Alice (2011) and an avid Cubs fan through marriage. She's an assistant professor of mathematics and STEM education at St. Ambrose University and also moonlights as a mathematics teacher at South East Junior High in Iowa City. Between soccer, running club, tumbling, and piano lessons she likes to cook, run, and do yoga. She's also a sucker for 5Ks with cool swag and awesome medals.


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