5 Ways to make Holiday gift giving not feel like a Burden

Let me first preface this post by saying Christmas is NOT an emergency! It comes every year on THE SAME DAY. So in actuality we should be prepared when the holiday season is upon us and it’s time to start shopping. But I will be the first to admit that I have been one of those people stressed and ill prepared for Christmas. In fact I have felt tremendous amounts of anxiety and sadness and inadequateness (is that a word?) when Christmas was coming because I was not able to afford the things I wanted to give the people I love. Let’s be real, the holidays have become hella commercialized and people spend a lot of money this time of year unnecessarily and if you don’t have it to spend you can feel less than. The holiday season can go from joyful to feeling like you had a chair pulled out from under you REAL QUICK! So I wrote this post to hopefully make us feel what the holidays should be about which is making memories with our loved ones.

So how do you make the most magical time of year feel magical again? Let me give you my two cents!

  1. Manage Expectations– You are not superwoman (or man) and you cannot nor should you even be trying to make everyone happy. When I say manage expectations this means letting the people that matter know where you are at and what you are capable of this holiday season. This includes the kids. My kids usually get one major (i.e. expensive) gift from us (the parentals) each year on Christmas. They may get a few smaller gifts or maybe not but we do try to get the ONE major thing they ask for. They understand and are perfectly fine with this because they know all year long they are getting things they need and may want. If you have smaller kids understand you set the expectation for Christmas now so don’t go overboard or it will be something they always expect. Also I stopped buying for adults a few years back. Let me explain. I was raised in a family where Christmas was strictly about the kids. Also we only celebrated Christmas with immediate family so you only bought for a limited amount of people. My ex husband’s family is the opposite. They buy a gift for everyone! And I mean everyone! The gift could be big or small but anyone that visits them on that day will not leave empty handed. I love this about them but it was very different and intimidating for me after awhile. To try to match that effort was exhausting mentally and financially. I had to learn this is the way THEY celebrate and not necessarily how I should or have to. So a few years back I let them know I would not be purchasing major gifts for adults (I may give something small). If they had kids I would make sure the kids would get a gift. And I make sure my in laws have a nice gift because they are always a help to me all through the year. No one was offended or mad about this and it actually lessened the pressure because I was one less person they had to worry about on their list. So speak up and let people know what you can do instead of trying to make miracles happen.
  2. Set a budget– This should go without saying but you need to have a budget for your holiday shopping. It can be a budget per kid or per person. Or you can say I’m spending $500 on gifts for everyone and that’s it. Now after you have the budget the key is to stick to it! Don’t apply more stress by trying to make more happen than you can. This is one day a year. If you feel like you want to give a loved one something special you can do it ANYTIME of the year specifically when you CAN afford it. And it would probably mean more to them anyway. Who doesn’t want a gift anytime of year?
  3. Use your talents– We all have something we are good at. Whether is cooking or baking or writing or even make up we can always give our talents as gifts to the ones we love. Bake cookies and package them up really cute and give as gifts. If you write for example make a book of poetry or a story especially for that person. Or make a coupon book for a free make up session or even to babysit the kids to give a stressed out mama a night off. With the internet and Amazon anything is possible lol! But use what you got, be thoughtful and you can still give a gift your loved ones will cherish and remember.
    Focus on creating memories– The best and most expensive thing you can give anyone is your time! It’s something you can never get back so it really is a treasure when you take time out to spend and create times you can look back on with your family. I used to host a night when my kids were younger where their cousins could come over and we would make Christmas cookies and drink hot cocoa. My kids still remember this! Now my in laws host a gathering a few days before Christmas where everyone comes over in their pajamas and watch movies and eat lol. This is what the holidays are for in my opinion and this should be the focus instead of just gift giving.
    Give yourself Grace– It is not only important to manage the expectations others have of you but you must also manage the expectations you set for yourself. If this is a rough year for you in whatever way don’t stress yourself out trying to make things happen for one day. It’s never that serious. Accept reality whatever that may be and take the pressure off yourself. Sometimes, no most times we are our own worst enemies. We also live in an instant society that has put a timeline on things and events that in actuality take years to happen. If it’s Christmas time and you don’t got it like that understand that is okay. It doesn’t make you any less than a person. It makes you real & actually wise to not try to make happen what you cannot.

I hope this post gives you some things you can do to make this season a good one. Please understand people & time cannot be replaced no matter how hard science is trying to clone folks. Many people have lost ones they love either through separation, divorce, death etc and they wouldn’t care not one bit about a gift if they could get a few minutes with that person. So it is so important to know life is the most precious gift of all. Spend the holidays, give your time and believe me things will be just fine.

Love Ricki

Creating a better morning

If you read my last blog post you know that one of my ways of beating stress or at least lessening the Single Mama blues is to be better prepared and more organized. Especially on the weekdays when it’s a mad rush to get out of the house on time. I wanted to share the new morning routine I’ve created to make getting out of the house in the morning not just easier, but way less stressful.

Every morning routine actually starts the night before. This is the time you should lay out your clothes (or at least think about what you are going to wear) and have your kids do the same. This includes undergarments and socks. Especially socks – do you know how many times I’ve almost been late because Lil Diva was trying to find socks? Anyway if you are packing a lunch, do it now and also if anything needs to be signed or checked make sure you complete that and have the kids tuck it away in their backpacks. This whole routine should take you 15-20 minutes but will save you hours of frustration in the morning time.

The first thing I like to do in the morning is take 15-20 minutes for myself. Before anyone wakes I take some time to read my bible verse (or more) in the morning, say my prayers and affirmations and also have a little personal time scrolling through social media. This helps me get going in the morning and sets my intentions. I also make sure to thank God for everything big and small. Gratefulness is a wonderful way to set your attitude in the morning.

Next I start my coffee machine and then if I am planning on wearing make up I take a few minutes to start applying it and do my hair before I wake up the crew. I need that time to focus on me and my morning needs. Just like the airplane air mask, you can’t help others if you don’t have yourself together.

I then wake up Bean and Lil Diva and drag her out of the bed. I always have her get ready in the bathroom while I finish my routine. It helps me to make sure the gets all her tasks done like washing her face and brushing her teeth. Otherwise she will forget or drag on the process. Next year she will be in fifth grade and we will transition her to getting ready without supervision but for now this is what works for me. Always do what works for you. Please don’t let anyone tell you how to run your tribe!

Finally we will get dressed, backpack and laptops and lunches and head out the door. Bean is a pro about being ready in the morning and Middle Diva doesn’t have to get up as early because her school bus comes later. One thing I try to do every morning is check our calendar and to do list to see if we need anything else before heading out the door. I usually create this list the night before so I can be prepared.

Me & Lil Diva doing our morning Instastories!

This is what works for me in the morning. I encourage you to create a routing that works for you and your family and start the night before preparing for your day. This is the major key that helps my morning flow smoothly. Also don’t forget to take a few moments for yourself. What tips can you share to create a better morning? Comment below. Also check out my Morning Routing Vlog style where I show you how my morning goes IN REAL LIFE. Don’t forget to comment, like and subscribe!

Love Ricki

Single Mama Blues & How I deal with them

The last few weeks have been challenging to say the least. Some things have went really well like my cookbook (thanks everyone for the support) and my social media is growing. I’ve really felt like I’ve been on my purpose which is to encourage and inspire women in some way, shape or form. However some days I have barely been making it. Baarly (say that like the lady who said she was legally blind lol). This week I was frustrated & stressed trying to get my children to school safely (it was storming and they normally walk) and ended up being late for work. Like a possible write up late. I broke down in the car. I know life has it’s peaks and valleys but it is sometimes too much when they happen in the same day. I cried real tears this week, it was a struggle.

When you are a single mother it ALL FALLS ON YOU. Now don’t get it twisted I have help which I am grateful for but at the end of the day I am the decision maker, boss, executor of tasks, ALL OF THE THINGS. I am blessed to be in the position to be several people’s mama but I am also still stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted sometimes. But I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to feel this way. I posted on my social media earlier this week how the first thing someones says when describing a black woman is that they are strong. And I don’t like that. Don’t get me wrong I am strong, I believe it’s an inherent trait built in ALL women (I mean we bear children and that shit hurts!) but it is not our defining characteristic. In fact the description of strength we have been given has somewhat been our downfall. As I’ve talked about before we think of ourselves as Superwoman and have thrown on this imaginary cape and all it’s really doing is choking the life out of us. I am not here for any of that. I was put on this earth to be an example of God’s love, to love my children unconditionally and live an abundant life. All this other stuff that we’re trying to live up to so we can shout about being strong to whoever is listening (nobody) doesn’t do anything but stress us out. Plus from the Bible I read it says something along the lines that our strength lies in God. Not us. And that’s what I had to remember this week when I was overwhelmed from trying to do everything on my own. Especially when I don’t always have to. I got my self help tools out and took some of my own advi´┐╝ce to get myself together and get back on track again. I am sharing my tips below:

  • Cry – This is one of the main reasons why I don’t like this whole strong woman definition. It makes us think it’s not okay to feel. We are feminine!!! We were made to feel emotions, to be soft and vulnerable and loving and nurturing. It is therapeutic to cry. It helps us get out emotions we may not know how to put in words. It also cleanses us. It’s okay to cry. I give you permission to do it but more importantly give yourself permission to.
  • Ask for help – You knew that was coming right? I know what you’re going to say tho. If I had help I wouldn’t be in this situation. You probably have help you just haven’t asked for it. And usually it’s because we are ashamed to (trying to keep up some image), we don’t want to be disappointed, and we don’t like giving up control. We need to stop thinking we were created to be islands in this world. We all need each other at some point and it’s usually not a one time thing. When you have to ask for help look at it this way, you are giving someone the opportunity to be a blessing to you and in turn one day you can be a blessing to them. Simple as that. So stop being prideful and ask for what you need. It’s way better for someone to be able to throw you a life preserver now than try to perform CPR after you’ve already drowned.
  • Take a break – Whether it be from social media, TV, a bubble bath with the door locked, or a fast food meal in Walmart parking lot, take a few minutes or more for you. Even if you have to steal them from somewhere else. As women and especially as mothers our lives move super fast. We are always going and doing and never taking the time to slow down, hell sometimes we just can’t for whatever’s reason. However we cannot keep going if we don’t take some time to break away from the busyness of life and breathe. So even if it’s a 15 minute break before you lift the garage door and all the kids run out telling you who did what to whom, take it!!!
  • Talk to someone- I am grateful for my family and friends because I know when I need to sort the thoughts running thru my mind or just express what I’ve been feeling, I can call and do that without feeling judged or like I’m being a bother. And they can do the same to me. It is vital that we do not hold things inside. It only hurts us, not just emotionally or mentally but physically. Also there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG with speaking to an objective third party, aka a therapist. Sometimes we just need to talk and let it out or get an opinion or make sure where headed in the right direction. We may not have a person we trust, so that’s where a therapist can come into play. Shoot they even have them online. Whatever you have to do tho, get those thoughts out to someone.
  • Prepare & get organized- This is something I don’t like to admit but we often cause our own stress by not being organized. By not packing a lunch the night before or figuring out what we are going to wear. We run thru rushing in the morning, hollering unnecessarily, forgetting things and just making life harder than it has to be. Do yourself a favor and when you have time use it wisely by getting prepared for what you know is coming. You know you have to go to work and school so stop looking like a deer in headlights and save some time and stress and make it easier on yourself.

Those are some of the things I do when I start experiencing the single mama blues. But you don’t have to be a single mother to do these. It applies to all women just out here trying to live our best lives. We play so many roles as women from daughter, sister, wife, auntie, mama, caretakers, business women, teachers, lovers and on and on we have to learn to preserve our most important role – YOU.

Love Ricki