Do you buy your own “Santa” gifts?

As the primary shopper in the house, I was tempted to be my own “Santa” this year, and I guess I sort of was.  There is one present under the tree that I bought for myself online and wrapped up, saying it’s from Santa.

This concept is not new.  My mom and mother-in-law have been known to buy presents from themselves and pass them off as being from either Santa or their dear spouse. It was only a matter of time for this tradition to come down to my generation.

As I wrote about last Christmas in The Joy of Giving and Feigning Joy of Receiving, I am not overly into receiving gifts, nor giving out gift ideas for myself. I enjoy giving presents much more. Above everything else, I value the time and experience with loved ones over the holidays. Last Christmas I didn’t give Daddy O. the best kind of guidance, so I was horrible at graciously receiving gifts from him.  To his defense he bought me the eye shadow color that the store employee gave him.  It was labeled “sea grass” instead of “sweet grass” like I had written down.  C’mon Aveda, get some more distinct makeup color names to help us out!

In hindsight (emphasis on HIND), I was genuinely thankful for the mannish-looking padded bike shorts that he gifted me last Christmas.  For a picture of me in said bike shorts and my delayed thank you, see this post from summer.

While out shopping for presents this year, I ended up buying some new pants for work (including jeans!), so I offered these items as gift options for Daddy O. or Santa to give to me.  He declined.  I strategically left magazines open to pages and put X’s by items I liked, so there could be zero confusion as to what I had on my list.  I caught the UPS shipment the other day, and I think Daddy O. successfully listened to my obvious prompts.

Now I just need to properly smile, say thank you, and simply enjoy the time with my dear family this Christmas.  I’ll let you know how I do!

Do you buy your own Santa gifts?  How do you share gift ideas to make shopping easier?

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Some Rules for a Parent’s Night Out

I recently had some evenings away from my two dear children thanks to Daddy O.  We typically take turns to make sure we each have an opportunity to get out of the house to have some time to ourselves.  This could mean working out, playing in a sports league, or meeting up with friends….all good things!

After recently ruining the relaxation and peacefulness of my “away time” upon my return home, I feel compelled to record some rules for a parent’s night out, so I hopefully will NOT break them again.

1. Be sure to leave and don’t return until AFTER bedtime.  As I mentioned above, I returned from a massage appointment (awesome Mother’s Day gift certificate) about 15 minutes too early.  BIG mistake!  Instead of staying in my relaxed bliss, I was jolted into “mom mode” helping with  dictating the cleaning-up process and getting annoyed by over-tired bedtime antics of my nearly 2 and 3.75 year old. I inserted myself when I didn’t need to.

2. You can’t treat your spouse like a babysitter. This is FREE labor – and it should be one of love (well, most of the time anyway).  Daddy O. may have his own ways of doing things, and that’s okay as long as the end result is the same: sleeping kids when I return home.

3. Don’t ask too many questions.  Again, if the house is quiet, and the kids are asleep, just go with it and ENJOY!  I think a more open ended question – “how was your night?” may be better received.

4. Lower expectations on the “honey-do-list.”  Based on how post-dinner / bedtime go, additional items on the honey-do-list may not get done.  I’ve learned to lower my expectations, and be pleasantly surprised when something IS done.

5. Just breathe.  If it appears the night at home didn’t go as you would have hoped, just pause and take a breath.  This is kind of hard when I am sort of a control-freak, or think MY WAYS are simply better.  I’m working on this, trying to learn to just let some things go.

What are your “rules” for your night’s off from parenting?  How do you carve out time for yourself to recharge?