Reflecting on 2020 – Lessons to take into the New Year

We did it. We can officially say we have made it through 2020. This year is not what everyone expected it to be and has provided many obstacles for the most part. However. 2020 has provided us the opportunity to grow and learn through these obstacles and challenges.

I am sharing what 2020 has taught me, some things I am grateful for that happened this year, and what I’ll be taking into 2021.

  1. Self Care is absolutely a priority – during all this craziness going on, it is very important to take care of yourself as best as you can. I think it’s safe to say many struggled with their mental health this year, myself included. Whether it was speaking to my doctor, reaching out to my partner, or taking those moments I needed to breathe, it was very important for me to recognize the signs that I needed help or time to myself, which is harder when you are home most of the time, but I took advantage of the resources around me and that is okay to look after yourself first. Remember you can’t pour from an empty cup.
  2. Not everything works out as planned, and that’s okay – yes we may have planned for a family get together at Christmas time, but it didn’t work out. That’s okay. We took the opportunity to spend time together just our household and made it the best we could. You know what, it was a wonderful Christmas.
  3. Keep a positive mindset and have something to look forward to – No this doesn’t mean abandon the present and always look to the future. This means that having a goal or moment in the future you are looking forward to, it’s okay to celebrate that, even if it gets pushed.
  4. Protect your energy, it’s a limited resource – It’s easy to see the things now that you have been forced to let go. Some of those things have taken a weight off my shoulders and it’s made me appreciate the energy I put in other things more.
  5. You don’t have to be productive all the time – Having a toddler and being pregnant in the middle of a pandemic has made me appreciate those moments of downtime. I cannot get everything done and I spent more time soaking in the moments around me with the family than feeling like I have to accomplish every chore or organization in the house (even as trendy as it may have been this year)
  6. You don’t have to go broke showing people around you your love – you’ve probably heard this before but with businesses shutting down, and many people losing their jobs or having huge financial set backs, it’s more true now this year and it made me appreciate just having our health, home over our heads, and the ability to show we love people by staying home, being safe, and lots and lots of FaceTime!
  7. Don’t take what you have for granted – this ties into a lot of the above. I’m so thankful for our health, a roof over our head that we can be safely quarantined in, and a family that keeps the days interesting and exciting. We have been able to enjoy time together that we wouldn’t normally have had.
  8. Make the best of the worst situations – When the schools shutdown back in March, I knew that was incredibly devastating for my (at the time) ten year old son. It was also one of the best things that happened this year for him and us, because we also made it the best of the worst situation. He was able to be home for six months with his baby brother and he was able to experience his milestones and build a very unique and strong bond with him. I wouldn’t have traded that for anything in the world.
  9. What my definition of “busy” truly is – The amount of times that phrase would dribble out of my mouth is insane. Now that the “busy” is taken away (in relation to family gatherings, events, plans, work, and commitments) you truly see how you use your time. Taking a step back from social media and overall phone usage is very important going into the new year. The time spent planning and never doing is something that really hit with me this year. We planned for all these events and they didn’t happen. That okay. But what about all those projects you wanted to tackle that you were too busy for… planned and planned but never completed. I will be reflecting and acting more on how I use my time and how much I invest in planning rather than doing and redistributing that time accordingly.
  10. This may not have been the year we expected, but there is always good within the bad – With all the lessons I learned this year, the biggest one, that ties into all of those above, is how much good there is to see within the bad. Yes the lockdowns happened, we were unable to see family and friends, people sick and dying, I started a business right when the pandemic hit, my youngest wasn’t able to experience the world and family like he should have at one years of age, and pregnancy during a pandemic is terrifying. BUT. With all of that… I was able to conceive and grow our family (due in 2021!), I got to spend every day with my kids, growing, laughing, and enjoying one another. We got to get things changed around the house, and enjoy our space more. We experienced new ways to keep in touch with family and friends. We picked up new hobbies, and rekindled old ones. We didn’t feel pressure to go out, to attend more events than we can manage. It was easier to say no to things because yes there may have been a bigger reason for it (ahem, not legal…), but I was able to start feeling comfortable saying no, which will be huge for me in years to follow.

I feel like I have more lessons I learned this year and everything tends to tie together but these are big takeaways for me this year. I love to hear about all the positive things that have happened to people this year. And guess what, if all you “accomplished” this year was getting up ... that deserves a HUGE high five too! It is not easy to want to get up and get going when everything around you seems like it is falling apart. What is something you learned this year that you are taking into 2021?

Happy New Year! Cheers to 2021 (even if it is just ginger ale in your cup like me because well, pregnancy!) I hope 2021 is an amazing year for you and remember, it is what you make it to be, so let’s (despite everything going on) make is as best of a year as YOU can.


20 Christmas Traditions to Start with your Family

When the holiday season approaches, so does one of the questions I hear all the time: What are your family traditions during Christmas?

Growing up, I remember a yearly tradition of seeing Christmas lights around our city in Edmonton, whether that be around our neighbourhood, or walking down Candy Cane Lane. We always did an exchange of presents with a large family dinner on Christmas Eve, and even Santa came to visit!

I remember seeing my grandparents’ Christmas Village on their mantle that I was always excited to see what their new piece would be for the year. Whether we were out tobogganing or staying in and enjoying lots of Christmas & Holiday classic movies throughout the entire month of December, it was our go to thing – yearly.

Now that I have my own family, I always wanted to take some of the classic traditions we had growing up and make a few new ones of our own.

I have created a list of 20 Christmas Traditions you can start with your family (yes, even now!). Especially with a lot of restricted Christmas activities and gatherings, some of the ideas below can make this Christmas a great one!

1. Elf on the Shelf

Yes, I know that not everyone loves the Elf on the Shelf and sometimes can be a pain. The first year I decided to partake in Elf on the Shelf, my son was 5 years old. The way my kid lit up when he had his own little Elf to enjoy daily, seeing where he had hid or goodies he may have brought, or what he was up to that evening, it makes it so worth it! You can find an Elf on the Shelf to join your family here and there are even neat accessories to get like this and this too.

2. Start your own Christmas Village

As I mentioned, a memory I will always remember is the amazing Christmas Village my grandparents had set up on their mantle. I decided to take on this tradition with my eldest son this year. I have been wanting to do this for a couple years now and with everything going on around the world, I decided to start this. Every year we will buy one new town piece and make that our tradition. My son was so excited to go out to the store, see the different village pieces and pick one to take home to add to the mantle. You can find pieces like this one here, and here. Don’t forget to pick up faux snow for the mantle like this here or here.

3. Advent Calendar

Now I know most people will partake in an advent calendar, typically one made of chocolate like this one here. Try switching it up by creating your own by grabbing an empty advent calendar like this one here, and fill it with whatever you desire. Whether it may be little candies or toys for the kids, notes for activities or movies to watch throughout the month of December, or hey, maybe even mini alcohol to really get you rockin’ around the Christmas tree! You can make it a surprise for the family!

4. Christmas Eve Box

This one is great for the whole family! Every Christmas Eve, have one present that everyone can open that is a designated Christmas Eve Box to get everyone excited for Santa to come and Christmas Day to arrive. Some ideas for the box can include: A new set of festive pajamas, hot chocolate mix, a holiday favourite treat, a holiday book, Christmas socks, or a new Christmas ornament. When you’re done opening the box, you can enjoy a family movie, using all the goodies you just got!

5. Gingerbread House Building & Decorating

This one is pretty self explanatory! Every year I tend to buy the Gingerbread House kit for the family or the Elf on the Shelf will bring one. We always pop on some good holiday tunes, and start decorating the houses! I enjoy everyone having their own kit, because what is Christmas without gingerbread house decoration contests? They even have gingerbread cookie kits if you don’t want to do the houses, and I always suggest buying more candy than the kits provide to really personalize it more, like these candy lights!

More Holiday/ Christmas Traditions for your Family to love!

  1. Family Photoshoot – Keep is casual or fun with pyjamas and set it up in your own home by the tree
  2. Homemade cards – Have the kids or yourself get craft and make your own holiday cards to send to family and friends.
  3. Make your own ornaments – There are many ornament craft kits like this one here, or here! You can even pull out the popsicle sticks and get making your own memories! Kids love this one!
  4. Make a family bucket list – At the start of the month, make your own bucket list of activities, movies, games or events you want to do over the month and enjoy checking them off!
  5. Donate – one in, one out! Get your family to share a little love this year by donating to the local food bank or donating old toys to kids in need (especially when they may be receiving new ones)
  6. Bake & decorate Christmas cookies – Yum!
  7. Write letters to Santa – Here in Canada, you can send your letter to the following address: Santa Claus, North Pole HOH 0H0, Canada, and you will receive a letter back! Check your town or country to make sure of deadlines to get your letter in if you want to receive one back – Santa is busy this time of year!
  8. Have a family game night – Get a new game to play with the family once a year to enjoy on Christmas Eve or Day! We absolutely love these types of games here, or be silly and get a Christmas themed gift like this one here
  9. Watch a Holiday/ Christmas Movie – Home Alone, Die Hard, The Grinch… There are so many to watch and enjoy!
  10. Visit Christmas lights (drive or walk thru) – Whether it is through your neighbourhood or a city event, get into the festive spirit with a family drive or walk through a scenic street!
  11. Visit Santa Claus – This one is always a fun photo for families with kids!
  12. Christmas Pickle – I have not started this one yet, but you better believe I am going to get myself a pickle ornament (and not not because I love pickles) but because there is tradition behind it! You place a pickle ornament in the tree, and the first person to see it on Christmas morning gets a prize! You can find a Christmas Pickle ornament here, and here!
  13. Wear matching family pyjamas – Be cozy and cute this Christmas!
  14. Holiday Craft – There are so many Christmas DIYs and crafts! That could even just be colouring some Holiday themed colouring pages
  15. Make an ugly Christmas sweater — Instead of going out and buying overpriced ugly Christmas sweaters, skip the matching pyjamas and the store and make your own! You can hop on over to your local goodwill or anywhere with discounted sweaters, or even grab an old one – don’t forget some tinsel and craft supplies like these kits here, or at the dollar store and get crafty!

I hope you enjoyed my 20 Christmas Traditions to Start with your Family and may have grabbed a few to start with your own! If you have family traditions, I would love to know about them. Leave me a comment below. Don’t forget to take photos and videos of your traditions! It would be great to go back and look at all the years you have done these and can even start a new tradition by spending Christmas Day looking back on all the photos!