These last few weeks before Christmas and school holidays can be like running the last leg of a marathon. You’re already exhausted from the past 11 months but there seem to be more events, tasks and challenges in the run up (or is that run down?) to the end of the year – even in exceptional years like this one.
If you’re like me and many women of the sandwich generation with children and parents/parents-in-law to cater for, the thought of trying to contain the amount of stuff entering the home in the next few weeks can seem daunting. Add to that the fact that we entertain more at home during Christmas and summer in general, and the task can seem overwhelming.
There’s nothing like seeing school children, especially the younger ones, excitedly waving their hoard of artwork from school in their parents’ face with the absolute knowledge that they will receive warm praise for their efforts. However, the sight of those large cardboard art folders can strike fear into the hearts of many who are secretly wondering how many can be snuck out into the recycling bin without being missed.
Take the time to appreciate them.
Then help your child choose some pieces for grandparents and other special people. Suggest making some into birthday or Christmas cards, and use larger pieces as wrapping paper. Keep treasured pieces and those that are actually quite good in a special folder or consider framing them. Others can be tossed quietly. Photograph them for posterity if you wish.
Art needs to be curated – if you keep everything nothing is important
Small children, especially first-borns, seem to receive an inordinate amount of toys with accompanying wrapping and packaging for their first few Christmases.
Consider culling the toy basket now before more enter the house on December 25th. Suggest experiences for the family instead of things from generous grandparents and relatives. Family passes to the zoo, bowling, Luna Park or the movies provide memories for everyone. Simple day trips to do things they don’t normally do can be greatly appreciated by kids and parents alike, especially if the parents don’t have to go along. My boys loved going fishing with their aunt and uncle. Horse riding and tickets to the ballet or a concert were also a big hit.
For larger families or groups consider a Kris Kringle or Secret Santa to cut down on waste and cost. Having to organise many small gifts can lead to the purchase or more unnecessary items. Slightly more money spent on one person will result in a more thoughtful, useful and less wasteful gift.
Consider also vouchers for services like babysitting, cleaning, landscaping or professional organising. Especially time-poor parents of younger children will appreciate them.
It will be tempting to just chuck everything in the back of the wardrobe and forget about all the school stuff until next year. But with a few small tasks done now, the house is cleaner and you’ll feel much more organised when those “back to school ads” start to appear (usually just after New Year’s Day!).
Have children empty out their school and sports and dance and any other bag used on regular basis. If they complain, tell them you get to keep any money or lollies you find inside. Teach the kids to wash their own bags if they are to be re-used and cannot be put in the washing machine. I usually have my boys spray them with a hose, spray them with detergent, scrub with a laundry brush, hose down again then leave out in the sun. Allowing the kids to play with the hose usually gets them outside and if you’re lucky/smart, you can get them to clean the outdoor furniture too.
Any items that can be re-used should go in the child’s room or a central storage place for stationery, paper, craft, etc. Uniforms should be checked for repairs, cleaning and replacement. MAKE YOUR LIST NOW of the uniform items and sizes you will need for your child(ren) for next year. Keep this list on your phone or in your bag so you can pick up bargains or take up offers of hand-me-downs. Note in your diary or calendar to have it handy for when you will go shopping for anything new.
These are only a few tips to encourage you to deal with these things before the holiday season starts. I guarantee you, you will enjoy the clutter-free spaces around the house and waste-reduced Christmas greatly.