The Tough Days


If you are a parent, I know you have them. (And if you are not a parent, I know you have them…) Because we ALL have them.

We are all in the same freaking boat.

If things feel tough today (like I didn’t want to get out of bed tough, or I’ve just lost it and yelling at my sweet baby/toddler tough) well then, you are not broken, you are not different, and you sure as hell are not alone.

Would you just grab a fork and join me on the floor already? There is pie to be had.


dropped pie


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Inspiration and support for the journey of motherhood.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too.


Suzanne Tucker, CEIM, Parent Educator:

In over two decades as a physical therapist and parent educator Suzanne has help thousands connect on a deeper level to themselves and their families, teaching Infant Massage and Positive Parenting to organizations and individuals all over the world. Creator of My Mommy Manual, a website/community inspiring parents to “look inside (yourself) for instructions”, author and co-founder of Brentwood Center of Health, a holistic rehabilitation center, Suzanne lives in Saint Louis, Missouri with her husband, their four children, and far too many pets to mention.

The Power of Kindness

Want to know where cultivating emotional intelligence in our kids gets us as a society?

This. Right here. What would the world look like if this single boy’s actions were commonplace? (This coach? This team? This community? So much kindness.)

Grab a tissue…

Mom of The Year?

There’s unrest and uprising in Baltimore. Protesters retaliating against violence done to Freddie Gray and many want to see it stop. (Powerfully expressed here in Ray Lewis’s Facebook video)

Ray Lewis message for rioters

“Get off the streets. Violence is not the answer. We know what the jungle looks like. We know there is a deeper issue. There are enough of us in the streets trying to change what is going on. KIDS. GO HOME!!!! You don’t have no right to do what you are doing… We’re with you. We know what’s GOING ON!!!…It takes a village…To many babies paying attention to this craziness…We must change this right now. Stop the violence. Go home. I’m telling you, GO HOME!” – Ray Lewis

And then this video surfaces “Baltimore Riots: Mom Beats Son for taking Part in Violence“, a clip being described as a mother smacking sense into her son. And as a nation, we applaud. We call her mother of the year. We lament that hitting is no longer allowed in schools and we blame parents that don’t spank as the very problem for Baltimore’s unrest. Damn kids. No respect. Conversations fill our Facebook streams debating, “Mom of the year or mom abusing her son?”

Baltimore mom

Let’s wake up America. Why are we wasting time and energy collectively judging this mom and her parenting methods as either good or bad when we could be talking about the realities that drove this mom to lose it?

Because this WAS a mom losing it. The hitting, smacking, cussing — an act of desperation. JUST ASK THE MOM, TOYA GRAHAM, HERSELF. When asked about her actions she said, “I just lost it! I was so angry with him that he had made a decision to hurt the police officers. I was like, you weren’t brought up like this!” The boy himself goes on to explain that his mom hit him because “she didn’t want me in trouble with the law. She didn’t want me to end up another Freddie Gray.”

This is a :37 second clip of a mother angry, raging — losing it. A mother in fear for her son’s life.

I applaud Ms. Graham for going right down into the rioting, pulling her son out of the crowd and potentially saving his life. I applaud her for creating a national conversation about fear, discipline, punishment and the way we parent. I do not hold hitting and the cussing at our children as an act worthy of making any of us parent of the year but who cares?!?! That is not the point. I empathize with this mother.

And maybe that’s it right there. We as a nation, empathize with this mother.

We recognize the love behind this mother’s fear because we have been there. We see in this mother a love so big – a love masked by fear, anger and rage – emotions with the power to take over our bodies with such force that we “lose it”. Hitting, yelling, smacking the very people we love most in the world — the very definition of losing it.

I believe this is what our nation sees in Toya Graham when they call her mother of the year. Big love covered by so much fear and worry.

If I’d been in this mother’s shoes, driving down to the mall to pick up my teen son, worried he might be in trouble, arrested or maybe even dead – then seeing him there in the crowd, masked and holding a brick – I might have “lost it” too. I have never raised a hand to any of my children like this mother did, but here’s the thing — I have never been this mother. I have never been in this exact situation. I am a white, middle class mom, married, living in the Midwest. I was not raised with hitting or spanking. My ancestors were more likely slave owners than slaves. I do not live in daily fear that my children, walking out the door for school, might never walk back in. I can’t even pretend to know the fear that gripped this mother’s heart or the thoughts that went through her head in that moment.

Where this mom went in her rage is not the point America. Our reaction to it is. 

To say this mom’s moment of deep fear and rage embodies our highest hopes for parenting methods is something to talk about.

Ironically, the very act our nation is largely holding up high as effective, loving, discipline (mother of the year material) is a mother gripped by fear. Where I see her actions as understandable, I struggle to see how and why much of American media finds them applaudable. If a news station captured footage of a teacher disciplining a child in the way this mother was engaging her child, no matter the cause of the teacher’s reaction, how do you imagine the media and America might react?

We praise the peace keepers and ask for the violence to end, and yet as a nation in comment after comment following the video, we call for mothers to parent more from the place this mother went in a moment of fear. We hold her reaction up as praiseworthy and call it discipline instead of naming it for what it was – an understandably challenging moment where this mother “lost it” on her son.

Comments below the video suggest the solution for our nation’ challenges. Our kids need more ass-whipping:

“If I or my wife found out that my son was involved in anything like this, we would go out and yoke his #$%$ and bring him home. After that the fun would just begin.”

“As parents we HAVE to HOPE that the next time he will consider there is a chance the entire world will watch his mom whoop his ass.”

“All these stupid kids did was make things worse for everyone in the neighborhood. They could all use some sense slapped into them by caring parents.”

“My mom would have whooped me till my but was red and I would have deserved it if I had ever taken part in something like this. My mother’s discipline AND spanking taught me respect!”

“When I was young I was taught respect the same way that kid was just taught ! It makes me cringe every time I’m in a store, and hear a kid screaming, swearing, and throwing a fit because they didn’t get their way! I would have gotten yanked out of the store by the scruff of my neck, and had my butt warmed for me if I ever had done any of that B.S.!”

“Enough with child abuse. Teens are using it to get away with murder. I say go back to the old way of raising teens. The way our parents raised us!!”

After the video’s release, the Police Commissioner was quoted as saying, “I wish I had more parents that took charge of their kids.”

I agree. Let’s take charge of our kids. And let’s talk about how.

How can we as a society teach our children conflict resolution from their days in the sandbox on up?

How, even in the face of an unfathomable injustice, can we model self-control and ways to channel negative emotions? What are our actions teaching to our kids when we as parents and/or persons of authority are triggered — pissed off, angry, scared, irate, raging?

If we are a nation that stands behind corporal punishment. If we are a nation of people teaching children with our words and actions that might makes right and anger is best expressed through violence, then WHY ARE WE SURPRISED WHEN THESE SAME CHILDREN PICK UP BRICKS AND FIGHT WHEN THEY FEEL ATTACKED AND ANGRY??!?!?

What if we, instead, taught our nation’s parents and children tools for conflict resolution and how to channel anger when we feel anger, rage and out of control?

Where does violence begin and where do we begin in taming it?

This might not strike you as original, but when I see what’s going on in Baltimore I think, what would Rosa Parks or Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. or John Lennon or Jesus or Inez Milholland Boissevain or Mother Teresa do in the face of racism and the many injustices of our time? How would they empathize with this mother’s understandable fear for her son’s life? How would they encourage this young man and other protesters to put down the bricks and to create lasting change for our nation, a nation of people hurting one another, in need of peace?

I believe their response would sound a lot like Ray Lewis’s message above. Empathy. A clear, firm message to stop the violence. A plan in what we as a people CAN do for true and lasting change.

Peace starts in each of us. In our hearts. In our homes. In our parenting, school and even our judicial system. In the ways we treat one another in the face of conflict, anger and injustice.

Does violence end violence?

When we yell and hit children for yelling and hitting, we model and thereby teach, the very thing we want our kids NOT to do. And we miss the opportunity to teach our children valuable tools on what TO do with big, negative emotions. Anger transformed into clarity and action, minus violence, has the power to create lasting transformations in how our society operates. Transformations like ending slavery. Rights for children. Rights for women. Rights for gays. Rights for all people.

Perhaps the problem our nation faces is not a lack of violence being done unto children in the name of discipline but a lack of parenting tools that teach children and parents alike how to manage anger and conflict. What does this look like? How is it different for different facets of our culture, depending on race, geographics, income, health, age and more? How might these tools make a difference in the hearts and hands of our nation’s future police officers, uprisers, business and social leaders, parents and teachers alike for generations to come?

That’s a discussion I’d like to see us having as a nation. 

I’d like to end this post with a story from author Astrid Lindgren, recipient of the German Book Traders’ Peace Prize in 1978 and the humble call for peace it embodies. The sort of peace that starts within each of us. Her story does not pretend to have all the right answers and nor do I. My intention with this post is to start a conversation. Asking questions. Listening. Empathizing. Building bridges and peace. These are my intentions.

“I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking–the first of his life. And she told him that he would have to go outside and find a switch for her to hit him with. The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, “Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock that you can throw at me.”

All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone. And the mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence.” -Astrid Lindgren

Love Always Win Poster


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Inspiration and support for the journey of motherhood.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too. xo


Posts to read that further this conversation from people who know far more than I:

Are We Willing to Face Our Own Hypocrisy?

“My mother shot a man for abusing me. Her then-fiancé put me in a bath of scalding hot water, leaving scars I can still see and feel some 40 years later. Like I said, she would do anything for us. But I wonder now, with jail cells and graveyards packed with people who faced similar discipline, if it had the societal payoff we intended. The hard data tells another story.

Children who are subjected to corporal punishment are no more likely to refrain from bad behavior than those who are not. In fact, studies show it has the opposite impact, and that they seek out more crafty ways to cloak unwanted conduct.

That is no indictment on the mother from Baltimore or my own. It does, however, speak to our collective hypocrisy.”

A Black Mother’s Love (or What Love Looks Like In Public)

“I don’t have a son, but I do have a mama, and she has never prioritized my feelings or my pride above my safety.  And her fear for me (staying out late, going anywhere alone—fears she still has now and I am well into my 30s) is not always based on logic, its based on possibility, its based on knowing what can happen to a person in black skin in this country, just for walking down the street or trying to get home.”

The hideous white hypocrisy behind the Baltimore “Hero Mom” hype: How clueless media applause excuses police brutality

“The debate over the moment Graham says she “lost it” is complex. There’s a parallel black debate going on that, as always when it comes to racial issues, is richer and more nuanced. But anyone white who’s applauding Graham’s moment of desperation, along with the white media figures who are hyping her “heroism,” is essentially justifying police brutality, and saying the only way to control black kids is to beat the shit out of them.”

 Beating Black Kids on ABC with Sandra Bookman

A powerful interview about a little book that’s enhancing the lives of thousands.



Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Musical

Win four FREE tickets to Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Musical on November 18th in St. Louis!!!

Alvin 300x250

Have you known me to run many-a-giveaway here?


Why? Because usually I’m getting hit up by big companies wanting to pass on things that make no sense with my site or my mission of inspiring connection. Over the years I’ve been hit up by many an off-brand offer to pass on to you, offers I promptly delete.

But then a young lady from Chaifetz Arena emailed me and asked if I might let my community know about their upcoming show: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Musical. She was straight forward, kind, and my immediate response? HECK YES! (even before she offered me tickets to do so).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Why this immediate yes? Because all my kids, ages 5 to 15, love Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Because I love Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Because even my husband likes Alvin and the Chipmunks (tolerates might be the word he’d use, but as much as he despises other kid shows/movies, etc, this is still saying a lot…).

So yes, I said yes, and now here you go. You can thank me later. I hope you win.

Plus, you can save big on buying tickets with code GSG: $10 off select seats to the 4pm show or $5 off select seats to the 7pm show.

TICKET LINK: Check it out. From what I can tell, ticket prices range from $9 to $56.

The world’s most famous chipmunk trio – accompanied by the Chipettes – will delight fans of all ages with LIVE performances that will feature world-class production, music, special effects, and immersive interactivity to encourage audience participation.

Based on the characters from the hit Twentieth Century Fox movies, the show will bring the music and excitement of a live rock concert to life as the Chipmunks perform hits by One Direction, Maroon 5, Carly Rae Jespen, Elvis Presley and more! Join Alvin, Simon and Theodore as they sing and dance their way across America en route to their big charity concert.  From an “old school” breakdancing competition in Chicago, to a no-holds-barred food ?ght in New York City, and with the Chipettes along for the wild ride, Chipmunk fans from coast to coast will experience it all –LIVE on stage!


Rock on mamas. I hope you’ll be connecting with your kids come November 18th with the silly fun that is this crazy chipmunk trio. I’m going thanks to Chaifetz and look forward to sitting with/near whichever of you is the big winner!


PS: If you liked this post, please click “like” above, share it and/or join our community of mindful parents. You will receive gentle parenting tips as well as a free gift direct to your inbox — Hug Each Moment Kit, a journal for you to keep, helping you to write love notes once a year to each of your children from birth to ten. (And a promise – I protect your email with my life — no spam allowed!)


Support for the journey.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too.

One Voice For Many

Not many films have so palpably touched me the way Generation Rx did.

As a mother, I’ve always questioned.

“You will not be able to deliver twins outside the operating room. It’s just procedure.” But I did, In a peaceful labor and delivery room just down the hall.

“It’s time for your baby to receive sugar water. She’s going to end up with brain damage.” But she did not, latching on to me instead as I cradled her in my arms, wrapped within a special light blanket, her red blood cell levels returning to normal as he body was give the time it needed to eliminate the excess blood cells. (Drinking. Peeing. Drinking. Peeing.)

Despite much fear and many attempts to scare me into parenting decisions, I prefer to question the things I am told, even when they are told to me by, yes, a doctor. Sometimes I go with the advice I am given. And sometimes I do not.

  • Allowing a Hepatitis immunization shot for my hours old baby? No.
  • Scheduling an MRI to rule out other (unnamed but scary) causes for my teens regular headaches? Yes
  • Scheduling annual flu shots for my entire family, introducing a virus in order to prevent it? No.
  • Taking my daily prenatal vitamin? Yes.

And so it was, as a mother who is used to questioning what she is told in favor of doing my own research to add to the recommendations my doctors give me, that I watched the documentary by international award-winning writer/director Kevin P. Miller unfold. Watching. Feeling at once validated and alarmed.

Through master storytelling and critical interview after interview, Miller’s film explores the narrow, largely pharm based treatment options millions with mental health conditions are afforded (our children included.) I watched as story after story told of a generation numbed (at best… at worst, driven further into the darkness of depression and violence.)

Following the film’s release, I was not surprised to learn that Miller received thousands of letters from real people: mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers — people who’s lived had been forever scarred by the negative influences of psychiatric drugs. It is from this outpouring the concept for his next film, Letters From Generation Rx was born, a film designed to spur an international conversation about mental illness.

I take heart that in Miller’s own words, his ultimate conclusion after receiving letter after letter, is a hopeful one. And it is this perspective he plans to drive home in Letters From Generation Rx: “There is hope for those suffering, and it may not lie in the toxic elixirs we have come to know by name… There are remedies and therapies being overlooked…”

I share this worthy campaign with you, hoping it starts a conversation in your home. Hoping you too are as inspired by this filmmaker as I have been.

Letters From Generation Rx has 14 days and counting left for it’s indiegogo campaign to raise the funds and go into full production. Join me in adding your voice to the many voices represented in Miller’s films. One voice questioning the system. One voice calling for a more human, holistic approach to mental health. One voice lifting truth and our freedom to question what is best for ourselves and our families on high.

Generation Rx and Letters From Generation Rx. One voice for many.

Voices that might otherwise go unheard.



When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:
Connection and Baby/Kids

You Are Braver Than You Believe

“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

When we are hurting, these words from Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh are easy to forget. At some point in our lives, we each need reminding. It is in those moments we find ourselves leaning into another person (a friend or sometimes a complete stranger) who in their compassion and love reminds us.

We ARE brave. We ARE strong. We ARE smart. No matter how fearful, weak or broken we may feel in that moment.

Sunshine After The Storm

Sunshine after the Storm: A Survival Guide For The Grieving Mother strives to do just this, sharing honestly and with compassion the journey of a mother’s heart after the loss of a child , be it to miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant loss.

The book is free on Kindle until October 17th, 2013 and it’s authors would love to see it in the hands of as many people as possible. Mothers. Fathers. Spiritual leaders. Medical professionals. This heartfelt and inspiring collection is for anyone who finds themselves in the midst of loss.

My essay in Chapter Three, “The Things People Say”, is born of my personal experiences with repeat miscarriages, my struggle to ask for the things I needed, to forgive and to receive. In all, the book offers more than twenty “survival tips” and thirty unique perspectives from moms with both shared and varied experiences of infant loss and healing.

You may never know which of your friends this book is meant for, as in loss, most tend to hold their hurt close to the chest, which is why I am asking you to help us help others feel less alone in loss by sharing this link far and wide.

Thank you from the backside of my healing heart for passing this along, that another mother (or yes, another father) in their loss might feel less alone.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.



When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:

Miscarriage and Loss

How to Add Meaning

It’s Stuff-itis season… the season when we are bombarded with messages of all the STUFF we deserve ourselves or need to gift to other people to show them we love them. We experience it every year, this idea that pervades our consciousness – in the malls, in our media, and in our culture – that with all the giving of stuff comes joy, love and connectedness. And yet, every year after all the wrappings and bows are stuffed in the trash and we’ve collected our stuff in a pile, after they join all the rest of our stuff, we don’t feel any different than we did before. We go back to the disconnected, running around we did back in September that was necessary to fuel this culture of stuff. We go back so we can do it all over again.

What does it all mean?

And there it is. The thing that we are really searching for: meaning. It turns out that The Grinch was right… Christmas doesn’t come in a box. We all know this. We just need reminders.

So how can we infuse our celebrations with meaning? Are there gifts that are more aligned with what we really want to share with our families and friends? – that we see them, that we are grateful for who they are and the moments of life we share with them and that they share with us.

So here are some ideas on ways to capture and share – not just pictures – but moments. And apropos of Thanksgiving this week, reminders of moments of connection that we can all be grateful for.

Picking one thing every day to be grateful for and noting it in some external way is powerful. Write it in a journal, or post it on your bathroom mirror… doing something every day for 30 days is a great way to create a pattern or a practice of gratitude. You could join the thousands of other people who are doing this online on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #30daysofgratitude.

Here’s an idea: collect your 30 days of gratitude and have a personalized book printed… there are any number of online services that will do this for you: Shutterfly, Paper Coterie, Blurb… and then you’ll have a tangible thing to remind you throughout the year of the things you already grateful for… and because gratitude is viral (so to speak), it’s that much easier to find more things to be grateful for.

Get your kids in on the fun too! You could do a gratitude book for your family or your kids could do books for themselves… and if you start today, you’d still be done before Christmas! If you add pictures, it’s even more powerful!

Along the same lines, you can share gratitude with your family. Picture calendars are a staple gift for the grandparents, right? How can you infuse it with the spirit of gratitude? Ask your kids to help you pick twelve things that they are grateful for and find pics to match.

If all of that organizing seems like too much, just pick one picture and make a memento box. (THIS is totally my speed). Then throughout the year when your child brings home an art project from school or leaves you a sweet note, you can put it in there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself all weepy when I stumble across these little treasures. The keepsake boxes also make great gifts.

Okay… maybe Christmas can come in a box. 🙂

How to Celebrate Mamas

In the US alone, $14.6B is spent annually on Mother’s Day for “stuff” that could just never say what’s in our hearts. What if instead, we all just unleashed that love on the world? How would it impact our world if we stopped using stuff as a surrogate for love? What if we invested that love to make the world a better place for Mamas & children everywhere? ~ To Mama With Love

What a radical idea, right? I don’t know about you but I’m so excited about this chance to celebrate all the moms in my life and celebrate being a mom by doing something to “mother” the world.

Last year, our friends at Epic Change launched To Mama with Love, a global collaborative online art project to raise money for Mama Lucy to build a school in Arusha, Tanzania. In less than a week leading up to Mother’s Day 2010, the site raised $17,000. The school has been built… look!

This year, To Mama With Love is expanding to support the work of four extraordinary women (see video): Mama Lucy Kamptoni in Tanzania, Suraya Pakzad in Afghanistan, Maggie Doyne and Renu Bagaria, both in Nepal.

Tonight, when my kids get home from school, we’re going to create heartspaces for my mom, my grandma, my aunt and sister, who all live in the Philippines. And, my aunt in Wisconsin. Thank goodness because cards will never make it in time and oops, that book that I meant to mail is still sitting on the kitchen counter. *sigh*

You can participate by creating a heartspace in honor of a mama you love. You’ll personalize your heartspace with photos, video, poems and artwork – anything you want to share your love for a mama. Heartspaces can be shared with your friends and family so that they can contribute additional funds in honor of your mama and even write comments on the wall of your mama’s heartspace.

Love can change everything!

How to Shop with Kids Peacefully

I am in that stage of parenting our twins where each time I take them to the store I wonder if it will continue to go smoothly. They are into everything now that they crawl and thankfully, shopping together continues to go WELL. Having a plan and just the right distractions helps. Watch here as I show you one of my best shopping sanely tricks which involves the Hold-It-Baby.

I find bringing a sling along is a MUST as one generally wants to be held and this frees up my hands for paying, loading the car, etc.

Send me your shopping with kiddos tips!!! How old are your kids and HOW do you make it fun/sane to go shopping?

Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy

Suzanne is the Co-creator of My Mommy Manual and the online parenting course, Yoga Parenting. If you liked something you read here, she hopes you’ll sign up. It’s free and together you can remind each other to look inside.

How to Stop Christmas

“Do you know why Santa is always jolly?” my husband said to me last year as we were driving together to purchase our Christmas tree.

“No, why?” I replied on queue like the well-trained straight man of umpteen years of marriage.

“Because he knows where all the bad girls live,” he said. I laughed.

Make the Holidays Memorable, Try an Ice Skating Field Trip!

“Where’s that?” my son piped up from the back seat. He really wanted to know.

The holidays seem to come faster every year. By Halloween, the outdoor plants at Home Depot are all gone and Christmas trees fill every nook and cranny of the store. At some malls, Christmas music even accompanies back-to-school shopping. There is no stopping Christmas. But we can slow it down and cherish every moment. Here are some ideas.

Don’t Dilute the Season

Set your own parameters and jump into the season on your terms. Fend off the push to start early. I like to dive in on Black Friday and get out with the crowds to catch the excitement — and the sales of course. Make the season memorable by planning one small holiday event each weekend, such as getting the tree, catching the lighting ceremony or skating at a rink. Create a visual of the season’s shortness by planning these events on a big calendar everyone can see.

Count it Down

My son can’t seem to memorize his division tables but he can instantly calculate the number of days to Christmas. Use your little Human Holiday Calculator to help build the excitement. Get an advent calendar or add a days-to-Christmas countdown to your fridge.

Celebrate Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is the virtual Black Friday. In offices all across America, it’s the Monday-after-Thanksgiving phenomenon where people collectively panic about their holiday lists. Suddenly, the fingers start shopping online sites during work time. So, join the crowd and make the most of it. Your boss is doing it too.

Wrap it Up Early

Shopping is not recreation. Recreation is recreation. Make lists and get it done to have more time for fun. Draw names with extended family. Really. They want this too.

Wrap it Literally

My friend Teresa decided not to wrap gifts one year because of how fast they were unwrapped on Christmas morning. She experimented with simply leaving piles of gifts for each child under the tree.

It was a fiasco. Her daughter felt slighted by Santa and asked if Santa was too busy for her this year. Teresa never left a gift unwrapped again.

Create a Slow Tradition

Making crafts can certainly slow down time. Even baking cookies can take up a whole afternoon. Get online for ideas, get the stuff, make a mess and create a tradition.

Make it Special

For my daughter, my husband has this show-her-the-finer-side-of-life theory of gift giving. He wants to head off any possibility that she will marry a folk singer. This is a palpable fear of his as she really likes the music. So he buys her nice things that a folk singer could not get her. For the longest time, she was the only five-year-old on the planet with pearls and she does cherish them. But the smart thing about getting one very special gift is that you’ve got an anchor. You don’t have to worry about adding too many other gifts, leaving more time for holiday enjoyment.

Be Thoughtful

People mention things they want all year long. You only have to listen. Besides the pearls example above, gifts don’t really have to cost a lot. For my dad, I’m scanning up old photos for a slide show. For my husband, I’m going to get his favorite book D-Day signed by the author. The time spent creating thoughtful gifts adds to the Christmas spirit.

Remember the Reason

The first year we moved here, I asked my children if they wanted to be angels and shepherds in the holiday procession at church. My son instantly was 100% sure he wanted to be a shepherd and said so. My daughter said, “I want to be a ballerina.”

I explained that 2000 years ago there were angels, shepherds, wise men, animals and Inn Keepers. There were no ballerinas.

“I want to be a ballerina,” she said again. I put my smart-mom noggin in gear.

“You mean a ballerina that wears a white dress and a tinsel halo?” I asked. She was two at the time and much easier to trick.

“Yes!” she replied. Problem solved.

We went to Holiday Mass with our Shepherd and Angel/Ballerina to say our thanks and remember the tiny baby who started it all. Christmas stood still for an entire hour.

Margee Moore is an advertising copywriter, mother of two and author of the iPhone book app Sleeping With the Laundry. Makes a great t0-me-from-me-love-me gift!