The Hot Mess Mom's Guide To The Holidays

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People who describe themselves as a hot mess don't, generally, have an easy life. It's not that they're suffering, but sometimes things are just a little bit... harder. They're flightier, less put together, and more easily flustered. And when the holidays roll around, there is a tremendous amount of pressure for everything to be beautiful and organized and, frankly, perfect. As such, a hot mess mom's tendency to be a bit of a sh*tshow is amplified this time of year. that's why a hot mess mom's guide to the holidays is crucial. I mean, goodness knows some of you are going to need all the help you can get.

And I say "you," but trust me when I say have plenty of experience as a hot mess mom. First of all, I have two kids. The more kids, the more likely you are to be a hot mess. Secondly, there's a fine but definite line between "laid back" and "hot mess" and sometimes my laid back nature takes a sharp, drastic turn towards hot messiness, often without warning. (Though maybe a less laid back person would see the warning signs that I was too laissez-faire to notice or do anything about.)


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The holiday season is long and full of activities. Here are some of the things you can expect to encounter during this festive time of year.

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Step 1: Vow This Year Will Be Different


You do not look on the past with rose-colored glasses. You've heard people say that if you go into something with a plan then you're setting yourself up for success. You're not the planning type, usually, but this year you're really, really going to try.

Step 2: Take Down Halloween Decorations


Yes, it's after Thanksgiving, but of course you still have your Halloween decorations up, including but definitely not limited to: some festive gourds, a smattering of autumnal leaves, and certainly a Cinco de Mayo inspired skull that you picked up from Target (where hot mess moms go to be among their own kind). You've been able to justify not getting rid of them up until now because, "It's still technically Fall, and besides, Thanksgiving has a lot of the same decorative themes." But that pumpkin by your front door has definitely started to rot. In other words, getting rid of it is the right thing to do. Besides, now is the time to put up Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa decorations.

So take out the box, put up about half of them, get distracted, and leave the rest sitting in the box that will sit in a corner of your living room for the next couple months.

Step 3: Overdrink The Night Before Your Holiday Card Photo Shoot


You were doing so well by simply remembering to have pictures taken in the first place. So you decided to toast yourself... and then toast yourself again... and then, well, you're not just going to leave a 1/3 of a bottle of wine. That's wasteful. You might as well drink it.

But then you forget that you're not 21 anymore and also that red wine makes for the worst hangovers of them all.

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Step 4: Become Physically Dependent Upon Peppermint Mochas From Starbucks


Because the Starbucks gods don't close a pumpkins spice latte door without opening a peppermint mocha window, friends.

Step 5: Put Up Your Tree


If it's a real tree, God bless you on what will absolutely be a chaotic trip to the tree lot/farm/sidewalk pop-up. If it's an artificial tree, you almost certainly bought a new one because you can't find the one you bought last year. (Incidentally, you will find the old one as soon as you take the new one out of the box.)

Whatever you choose, be sure to pick a good one, as you will not get around to taking it down until Valentine's Day.

Step 6: Plan An Amazing Dish For Your Work Potluck


This is the year you're really going to impress your colleagues. Begin cooking after the kids are finally in bed. Realize after you've already started that you forgot to pick up at least three key ingredients. Run out to the store to find it has just closed. Groan and wind up buying grocery store cookies on your lunch break the next day.

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Step 7: Forget That Your Friend's Party Is An Ugly Sweater Party


But it's OK, because on the way over your children made a tremendous mess of what had once been a pretty, normal sweater. The pea puree that splattered all over you before you left your little one with the babysitter, serendipitously, is in the shape of a Christmas tree. You blend right in. For once in your life, your hot messiness is working to your advantage. Savor this victory.

Step 8: Throw Out Thanksgiving Leftovers


Don't you judge me just because it's December 15! They were way back in the back of the fridge. I don't think of this as a lack of hygiene, either. Oh no, I think of this as an opportunity to teach my children about how mold grows using items in my own kitchen. These real life science experiments are the kind of thing that inspire children to go into STEM fields...

... and, yes, maybe also therapy.

Step 9: Finally Get Christmas Lists For Your Kids To Your Parents, In-Laws, Etc.


It is now December 17. They have been asking since November. But you know what, everyone does things in their own time! It's not my fault if my timeline leaves you absolutely no time to do what you need to do.

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Step 10: Pretend To Faint When Your Kids Start Asking Too Many Questions About Santa


Because you are just not prepared for this conversation (or, like, any conversation that doesn't revolve around reality TV) and bonking your head in a pretend faint is a small price to pay for the extra time this will buy you.

Step 11: Bake Cookies


Step 11.5: burn cookies

Step 12: Show Up To Your Child's Holiday Concert Just In Time To See The Last Song


Of course you were late. Your baby's pediatrician appointment ran long (you know, the one you forgot about until after you went to your office), and you had to run back out and get the baby, and then halfway through the appointment you remembered that you scheduled it today because it was the same day as the holiday concert and you figured you could kill two birds with one stone. You rush to the school as your older child's classes begins the last song and it is adorable. You clap extra loud, still standing in the aisle, hoping that your tremendous enthusiasm will overshadow the fact that you were late and that no one noticed.

Everyone noticed.

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Step 13: Order Everything On Your Shopping List From Amazon And Pray It Arrives On Time


It's December 21. Thank God for Prime.

Step 14: Call The Fire Department


Fire keeps the "hot" in "hot mess mom" and something will absolutely set on fire this holiday season. Maybe it's the aforementioned cookie baking. Maybe the lights from the menorah spread to the curtains. Perhaps the Christmas tree lights inexplicably blew and the spark caused a blaze. Maybe there was a latke related incident.

It's OK. Everyone is fine and the firefighters know you well enough by now to get to your house extra quick.

Step 15: Embarrass Yourself At A Holiday Party


You always seem to forget that in your head you're really good at karaoke, but upon seeing yourself belting out "All I Want For Christmas Is You" (yeah, someone uploaded it to YouTube and it's actually going pretty viral) you have so many regrets.

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Step 16: Wrap Presents


Badly. Very, very badly. It looks like a child did it.

Step 17: Wrap Your Older Child's Old Toys For Your Baby


What? That baby just discovered it has toes a couple months ago. They don't know the difference between an old toy and a new toy. Why are you going to spend good money on presents when you have a metric ton in the basement that you were going to donate anyway?

Step 18: Show Up Wherever You're Going An Hour Late


Let's be honest: you are not the type to host a big holiday gathering and no one would dream of volunteering you. It's OK, though. Your loved ones are used to this and told to show up two hours earlier than they actually wanted you there... so you're still an hour late, but they get it. You're a hot mess, but you're their hot mess.

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Step 19: Immediately Spill Something On Your Nice Holiday Outfit


Every. F*cking. Time.

Step 20: Still Have No Idea What You're Going To Do With Your Children On Their Holiday Break


Stare into the abyss as you imagine what your already chaotic house is going to look like after a week of children tearing through it unchecked. You really thought you were going to have more time to plan activities and outings and playdates and stuff but, of course, that fell by the wayside...

... probably sometime around when your latkes set on fire.

Step 21: Vow Next Year Will Be Different


Oh, mama. It's not going to happen. This is who you are. Embrace it.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

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