Remember to just say no this holiday season — Mommy Daze


JustSayingNoAs I sat down the other evening, phone calendar in one hand and a to do list of Christmas activities in the other, I had to stop and remind myself that despite my vehement dislike of the word “no” around this house, I needed to start saying no if I wanted to make this holiday season the best it could be.

During a normal day for me here in Toddler Land, I probably say and hear the word no a hundred times. I actually make a valiant effort to say the actual word no as little as possible. Instead, I try to re-direct their attention or give them alternatives, because that simple two-letter word tends to elicit the Tasmanian Devil inside my children when they hear it. Even my sweet innocent almost 16-month-old has started throwing himself on the floor or swinging to hit anything in reach as soon as I even look like I’m going to stop him from climbing inside the toilet (again) or dragging the cat by it’s tail (again). Not to mention the countless times I hear the word no throughout my day, in various decibels screamed at me or thrown back at me over a shoulder as the tyrant — I mean toddler — scampers away to hide from whatever horrid task I’ve asked of him, like putting his underwear back on after going potty, or putting shoes on when it’s time to go.

So you can imagine my disdain of this negative word, but it runs deeper for me. I’m a bit of a busy body who isn’t really content unless all my plates are overflowing. I love planning things, and I love having my schedule full. Maybe it makes me feel like I’m actually accomplishing things in my week other than folding laundry, making sandwiches, doing dishes or cleaning stale bagel bits out of the van. It also gets us out of the house for a couple hours, which lately is absolutely crucial to our sanity since it’s been cold, rainy and my two children have been trying to kill each other when I turn my back.

Plus there’s just something about Christmas time that is so exciting and fun with young kids. I recently explained to my Dad our new tradition of Santa setting up our train on Christmas Eve so it’s there choo-chooing around the tree and presents on Christmas morning. We both got almost giddy talking about how fun it’s going to be to see the boys’ faces that morning. There is just so much magic and festivity unique to this time of year, and frankly, I don’t want to miss a moment of it.

So sitting there with my list that included Christmas light shows, train rides with Santa, library holiday story-times, a Polar Express dinner at Chick-fil-A, train gardens, cookie exchange parties and much more (most of which I found online at Chesapeake Family’s events calendar), I had to start saying no. I even sat down with my husband to talk about how we could spread out our Christmas Eve/Christmas Day get-togethers with family in order to not overwhelm our little 1- and 3-year-olds too much this year. We want to enjoy quality time with them on this incredibly meaningful holiday.

It’s hard to say no to fun things, especially things that have been a tradition (or things you want to make a tradition). Sometimes I get so wrapped up in dragging my kiddos to activities I think they will like, that I forget to just enjoy this magical time with them. So I scratched off a lot of things from my list, spread out the get-togethers and started scheduling time to spend home with the boys. Maybe we’ll make gingerbread houses, or fun little foam sticker crafts from Michael’s, or read “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” (again), or watch Christmas episodes of their favorite shows, or hang tiny ornaments on their little tree, or just sit and drink hot cocoa together and talk about how Santa is able to fly around the world in one night and revel in hearing the reasoning of a 3-year-old. And is there anything better than watching a baby’s eyes twinkle when they see Christmas lights? So I encourage you to make your holiday plans, but take time to say no to some things so there’s room to just enjoy this time of year!

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Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 2-year-old James and almost 1-year-old Luke.