It's that time of year, once again! The hustle and bustle of the holiday season have arrived, presenting us with limitless to-do lists and initiating valiant attempts at packing in as many thematic activities as possible.
As a mom of three young kids, I find that this season can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, particularly in the age of social media and trying not to compare your day-to-day with the next person. I've accepted the fact that our family can't do everything this time of year, so I try to be a little more mindful and intentional about our plans. That way, the things we DO accomplish are done with meaning and fulfilment; everything outside of those plans is simply icing on the (fruit) cake!
So, what does our crew have on the itinerary over the next few weeks?
Annual Christmas Tree Hunt
Every year, in Griswold family fashion, we purchase our tree-cutting permit, pack up the kids, and head to a designated area of the Alberta foothills in search of the ''perfect'' Christmas tree. It's been a tradition of ours since long before children. Our family looks forward to this memorable outdoor adventure every year, which involves a long trek into the woods, fresh mountain air, and a completely different experience each time.
Shoe Boxes and Giving Back
It's important to us that we spend time teaching our children about societal differences, and why we should be gracious and appreciative of everything we have, especially this time of year. Our kids love filling Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, a tradition we have had for many years now. We also have many conversations about the need in our own community and city, and make an effort to donate to a few specific charities that focus on food, clothing, and toys. The kids partake in both collecting/purchasing items for donation and dropping them off. It spurs meaningful conversation and helps to grow an appreciation for all that they are blessed with.
Skating + Tobogganing
We try to schedule an ice skating or tobogganing adventure in our neighbourhood every weekend over the holidays. We get bundled up and head over to our community lake, where there is free family skating, a fire-pit, hot chocolate, and holiday music blasting out of the speakers. The kids love it, it encourages physical activity, and it gets us into the holiday spirit.
When I was a kid, we counted down the days leading up to Christmas with one of those run-of-the-mill cardboard advent calendars. Remember those? I decided a few years ago to incorporate the ''Advent'' calendar concept, but I wanted to make it a little more interesting and impactful for our family than simply the retrieval of cheap chocolate from a punch-out hole. Instead, I get 24 little recyclable bags from the dollar store, label them with numbers 1-24, and in each one, I place some sort of activity for the day. This includes everything from reading a particular Christmas book, baking a special recipe, a holiday craft, watching a holiday classic together, going skiing, writing a letter to Santa, doing a good deed around the house or community, etc.
This doesn't have to be specific to ''Advent'' per se, but really any system of beliefs. It is simply a fun way to incorporate some seasonal activities and get into the holiday spirit without having to spend tons of money or over-schedule yourself.
I really enjoy baking. When it's quiet, and I have nowhere to go, and no work to be done, and no one is yelling for me to help them with something. So, as you can probably imagine, there's not much baking going on in our home lately. I struggle with finding the time for it, to be honest! However, it's NOT the holidays without lots of special treats floating around the kitchen counters, so I have to intentionally schedule it in. Since I find it hard to manage my holiday baking around my work and full-time #momlife, I just try to do as much of it WITH the kids as possible. They love helping and it gives us a chance to talk about quantity, measurement, ingredients, nutrition, healthy choices, and more.
Writing this post is definitely making me excited for all that is to come over the next month. Last year, our entire household got hit with the worst winter virus. Between the five of us, we were flatlined for two straight weeks, so we sadly missed out on a lot of the fun that comes with the holidays.
I'm making sure to stay on top of our health this year with adequate sleep, good nutrition, and trying not to over-schedule ourselves (ie: limiting stress); it's going to be about quality over quantity! I also have been trying to offer better nutritional support, including a good probiotic to keep gut health and multivitamins to keep our immune system function in check! Some of my go-to multivitamins that have been keeping us healthy this fall include Progressive's Multi for Active Women for me, Progressive's Multi for Active Men for my husband, and Progressive's Multi for Kids for the kids.
We don't get many holiday seasons with our children, so I'm committed to staying on top of our family's health this year so that we can enjoy every moment to the fullest!
--- Written by Kelly MacKay
Kelly MacKay is a teacher, fitness instructor, content creator, and senior director with Beautycounter. She lives in Calgary, Alberta with her three children, husband, and giant sheep-a-doodle. Kelly is passionate about all things health and fitness and enjoys helping and educating others on their own wellness journeys. You can follow her over on Instagram @kel.mackay.