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When the Christmas season hits you out of nowhere.

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Nothing says "Happy Holidays" like a swift kick to the face, right?

In truth, for some of us, both the expected and unexpected stress of the holidays can leave us in tears just like this little impromptu love tap my son received from his older sister a few years back.

"#1" that is what his shirt says, but it's pretty clear from this snapshot that this experience did not leave him feeling like the "top dude."

Us mothers can relate.

Typically, we enter October and get through Halloween feeling "on it" and ready to dominate the crap out of the next few months -- festivals, family gatherings, church visits, cooking, baking, Santa meet and greets, teachings of gratitude and giving, and of course, lots and lots of present wrapping -- but, by the new year, we too feel a bit beat up on.

Maybe it's the exhaustion.

Maybe it's the lack of appreciation.

Maybe it's no recognition at all.

Maybe it's the fact that people think doing #allthethings is easy.

Maybe it's that we are expected to do #allthethings at all.

Maybe it has to do with the expectation for #allthethings to be fancy this time of year.

Maybe it's the fact that I. AIN'T. FANCY. AT ALL.

But, maybe, just perhaps, us mothers can make a conscious decision to do things differently a bit this year.

That's what I am doing.

I made a few decisions Thanksgiving week to put off work and the gym and focus on my children, and I'll admit that at first, I felt guilty.

But, guess what?

Then that shiitake passed, and it felt darn good to simply be present with my children while they had the extra time off of school. Their smiles, cheers and "thank you" declarations made it very clear to me that I had made the right choice.

And, I'm pretty proud of myself that the right choices just kept coming.

I dressed casually on Thanksgiving day, rocking a flannel shirt instead of a dress and opting for comfort instead of elegance.

Instead of panicking cause my children did not want to wear formal outfits, I decided to get them all matching t-shirts and let them be happily under-dressed.

I decided to "go with the flow" the whole break and be more flexible with our daily schedule and bedtime.

And, even yesterday and today, with our inside Christmas decorating, our tree size and shape decision, and the lighting and ornament placement, I LET IT GO.

I let go of my need to control the flow of activities.

I let go of my need to be in charge of our day.

I let go of my idiotic tendency to mandate that all of my suggestions be followed.

I let go of my desire for perfection.

I let go of the NONSENSE, and when I did that, I found myself more at ease and with the ability to discern joy, glee, and contentment in the ordinary.

But, not just any ordinary, my ordinary; my family's ordinary which I have only recently started to fully embrace and let fill me up until my cup overfloweth.

Listen, holidays are fun, but they are hard. There is much to do and many to do it for and with.

So, this holiday season, no matter what you celebrate, how you celebrate and who you celebrate it with, making the decision not to let yourself get beat up in the name of holiday spirit is how you win the fight.

My 2-foot #1 may have taken a swift kick to his right cheek, but here's hoping you steer clear of any incoming blows to your spirit, heart, and head between now and New Years.

What's the best way to do that?

Give expectation, anxiety, and perfectionism the boot. Let them be on their way to nowhere and you, well, on your way to a truly happy holiday.

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