By Jaimi Erickson
Guest Blogger

All four grandparents were about to join us for a week. We invited them all to attend the Marine Corps Birthday Ball this year. It is such a unique experience. They had spent many years watching our kids so we could attend, but this year, as my husband gets closer to retirement, we wanted our parents to get the esprit de corps experience too.

Everyone was coming to stay at our house, which meant I needed to do some planning and shift our routine. I can never wait for big family gatherings. Holiday times together with extended family members are precious for us military families. 

We do not live with our family “village” around all the time. That means we need to cherish the times we do have with family. 

In order to make sure these large family gatherings are fun everyone in the house helps out. It allows my children to experience what it takes to prepare the house for visitors. It also takes some of the work off my shoulders.

Holiday Planning and Prep Simplified

The first step I take is to keep holiday organization simple. I created this No-Stress Guide to Planning for the Holidays to help all of us reduce stress and enjoy the process of preparing to make great family memories. The fact is the work that goes into creating happy family memories is an investment in relationships. It is time we spend to create happy memories.

Stressing over how clean things are, or what the perfect gifts would be, can take away from the true meaning of the time together. Simple can feel not good enough on the surface, but it adds a buffer of time that helps reduce stress.

All Hands on Deck: Getting Kids to Help

Having all four grandparents in our home for the Birthday Ball meant the kids needed to give up their rooms for a bit. When we approach the family getting together as a great experience, the kids do not view the idea of giving up their beds for their grandparents as a sacrifice. It is a gain.

Kids take pride in sharing their spaces and rooms because it means time with family. It also means they need to clean up without excuses! Giving them an incentive to clean can help. 

We pay our children monthly for completing chores. Each child has a list of chores they need to complete each week. I use this free printable chore chart. Every school year, we reevaluate the chores each child has on their list. 

Paying kids for chores can be a controversial issue, but, it can give children opportunities to learn the value of earning, budgeting, and spending wisely. This list of chores for kids can give you some ideas on how to divvy up some of the tasks for the kids to complete. They learn to take pride in helping the family through their efforts as well. Lessons like these will be a benefit long after family visitors are gone.

Regular Cleaning to Stress Less

People live in my house every day. Real life happens here. That includes messes and daily clutter at times. Regular maintenance cleaning on a schedule has provided the path to less stress when it comes to keeping a clean house. 

Fridays are my cleaning day. Major cleaning tasks happen then. Daily cleaning chores like dishes and vacuuming happen as needed, but the big jobs like cleaning bathrooms, floors, and bedding get done on Fridays. 

This helps me stay on task with cleaning. It also has eliminated my need to deep clean everything before a bunch of people come to the house.

Bulk Cooking

When our family was smaller, we would cook fancier meals for family gatherings. Now, with a lot of people gathered for our family events, simplicity and budget are important. 

Food costs are rising, and with teenagers, I see the increased cost on our grocery receipts. When we entertain family, I do bulk cooking on a budget.

Easy-toprep recipes like egg casseroles and slow cooker meals are helpful. Plan out your meals ahead of time. Shop for groceries a day or two before your guests arrive. Knowing what you will be making for dinner each night helps keep the meal planning process organized. 

The Process Is Part of the Memories

Simple steps taken ahead of time help you achieve happy family memories with less stress. Cleaning weekly, kids doing some of the work, and bulk cooking all help reduce the stress levels when preparing to host a family gathering. 

Having the family work together helps build relationships and prepare the home, but it also creates some great memories to cherish along the way.

About Jaimi Erickson

Jaimi is a mom of 4, military wife, and writer. She blogs about motherhood, kids activities and homemaking tips at The Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Guide. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.

Ways for Military Families to Spend Time Together

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