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My 3 Step Strategy For A Less-Stress Christmas

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It seems that every year I get exceptionally excited about Christmas and for the entire month of December I plan and hope and scramble to get things done. I create lists upon lists, even a master list of which lists to make, outlining what cleaning and decorating to do and what gifts to make or buy for whom and cold weather preparations for my home and new year resolutions and so many other things to do that are absolutely required for a perfect Christmas. Also, I have at least four (that’s how many I can recall right now) family members with birthdays in December, including my youngest daughter’s for which a party is a MUST. On December 20th I begin an annual panic due to a lack of list items being completed and lose my patience for everyone, especially while driving, and I get upset with myself for not working hard enough to get everything done. Despite my “knowing” that it’s all totally possible, in the reality of my mind anyway, for some reason I cannot get my resources or calendar or people in my life to conform to my outrageous expectations. Usually by Christmas morning I am calmed down enough to visit with family and quietly tolerate even their most annoying habits (I credit this false serenity to my tradition of having a glass or three of Christmas Eve wine with my husband). This year I have started my seasonal frenzy late due to health issues. I would rather not spend the rest of my season full of frustration and frantic goings about. I am going to be utilizing what time and energy I do have to truly experience a fulfilling Christmas and when January comes around I won’t be blaming myself, or others which I occasionally do, for my not having had a “good” Christmas. I won’t be focussing on all that I didn’t get done or critiquing whether it was Norman Rockwell-ish enough. As I take a more Zen like approach to my pre-Christmas frenzy, I will be following eight simple steps to prevent any mid-December meltdowns and have a month in which I remember to celebrate my abundant blessings.

Step 1: Plan-

My Christmas Season is always packed with “things to do” and calendar fillers, especially with my children’s activities. There are school parties and cards to send and other family/ friends/ church/ work gatherings to attend. Not to mention all of the shopping and cleaning and baking and more shopping. All of this is in addition to my all of the time stresses of running a family. My first “thing to do” is take the time to consider all that I need/ want to do and develop a strong plan for getting it all done.

Step 2: Be Realistic

Step 1 is going to be easy for me, I love planning and creating schedules but I sometimes get a little too enthusiastic about it and fill every minute of my day with what to be doing. When planning for all that I am going to do for Christmas this year it is imperative that I be realistic. What others would consider to be realistic, because I know that my expectations are not always compatible with the rest of the world. While planning I will have to consider time and physical constraints as well as keeping in mind the needs of others in my family. The traffic this time of year could cause my well laid plans to crumble if I don’t plan any extra in- transit time and weather could also be a hindrance, so I will be ready for any impromptu snow days at home. While I am planning, I will have to remain aware of my family’s normal daily activities. I may need to change a few things around in order to get it all done, but I will be keeping in mind that changing my daughters’ usual routine during the holidays could cause more frustration than planning around it would. I will prioritize and only plan three big “things to do” per day.

Step 3: Take My Time

I will have to not plan so thoroughly that I have scheduled every day down to the minute. To keep a calm spirit, I will force myself to not rush. I will give myself plenty of time to enjoy what I am doing. To prepare for hosting a gathering, I plan to clean my home one room at a time. Trying to thoroughly clean our home in one day will cause me to be cranky and irritated and will stress the rest of my family as well.

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