We've barely put away the skeletons,
cobwebs and jack o' lanterns, and it's already time for moms to move on to the next holiday with barely a day to breathe.
Thanksgiving is of course a time for family, gratitude, and delicious food, but it's also a time that can mark the beginning of the end-of-year stress for moms. Between the house cleaning, meal planning, dietary restrictions of guests, grocery shopping, coordinating with relatives, figuring out travel plans, kids out of school, plus still juggling work and our regular lives, it's too much for any one person today.
It's no surprise that most moms today report being burned out, say they do the work of 2-4 people to keep their families running, and are now fighting with their spouses more over division of work at home than even money. That's where mom hacks are keys to success.
Mom hacks simplify the process and make the holiday a more enjoyable experience for you and your family. Here are quick tips from our Sherah team of family assistants - who are moms too - to help you have an enjoyable and easier Thanksgiving. For each one, we give you multiple options based on affordability and time.
Remember, do not feel guilty to outsource if you can afford to do so
and if that part of hosting does not bring you joy!
House Cleaning and Preparation
There's the cleaning before guests arrive and the cleaning after. Both are tiring on top of everything else you're juggling. If you can afford it, go ahead and book house cleaners in advance to come both before and after the big day.
Don't want to pay extra? Then enlist your kids and even your neighbors' kids to help. Kids can actually help quite a bit when incentivized with quarters, leftover Halloween candy and a movie night with pizza in the not so distant future. Even at the end of the Thanksgiving day, incentivize the kids to walk around the house with a trash bag and pick up the trash, plates and cups for you!
Make your life easier and purchase paper and bamboo plates and utensils. Put extra trash bags in the bottom of your kitchen trash can so when you're taking the full trash bag out, the next clean one is there at your fingertips. Stock the bathrooms with extra toilet paper. Little things like this in advance will save you on the big day. Even send the tablecloths, napkins and guests' bed sheets and towels to the cleaners for washing after!
Meal Planning, Shopping and Cooking
If you can outsource it all, then do it. There are lots of great local delicious catering options. Feel too guilty to outsource it all? Then you cook the bird and then cater the sides. Sherah has a full list of yummy local providers and our team can plan and order it for you. From Yellow Umbrella and Stella's to WellFedRVA, Lunch Supper and more, we've got you covered.
Another easy hack is to use Amazon Fresh Groceries to meal plan. Simply click on the Recipes link, search for your favorite side, find a recipe, then click one button to add all the ingredients to your cart.
Be sure to double-check your pantry for any staples you already have. Have everything delivered to save you time and even money! Amazon Fresh Groceries often has cheaper prices on groceries with free delivery than you shopping in person at other stores. Love it or hate it, Amazon is big enough to get you a deal.
Spending time with extended family can be wonderful and challenging. To minimize the stress, ask for help before the meal and plan forced fun activities for everyone after the meal.
Before it's time to dig into the delicious food, take advantage of extra hands. Ask people to go outside and kick a soccer ball with the kids. Ask others to set the table, watch the oven, take out the trash, check the cleanliness of the bathrooms, fill up the water glasses. People actually like to help, so put them to work to keep them busy, keep them out of your hair and helping you instead.
After the meal, have activities already planned. Send one group on a walk out in the neighborhood to walk off the meal. Plan a friendly family game of touch football. Have a couple of easy board games already out of the closet and sitting on the coffee table. Keeping people busy gives them less time to air personal opinions and more opportunities to interact with one another instead of just snoozing after the turkey.
Kids make everything more fun, but also more hectic. Again, put them to work and keep them busy and out of your way as you're carving the bird. Beforehand, even the little ones can help with folding napkins, cleaning up, vacuuming, and taking out the trash. Throw a bunch of soccer balls, footballs and chalk on the front lawn and sidewalk, and off they'll go!
If you have a basement or bonus room, have a movie already picked out and ready to go after the meal, especially if the weather doesn't look great.
Kids also love to think about Christmas and Hanukkah any time of the year. Have them write up their wish list while they're all together to share with relatives. They can also count up the money they earned that day helping you and vote on which charity of their choice they are going to donate their earnings to!