The tress are going up, the aisles of Target have been decorated for weeks already, Hobby Lobby smells of the riches of plastic pine and evergreen, and we’re about to enter the season of ALL THE THINGS.
Every mom knows that you have Executive Producer responsibilities for all the said things – add in those blest elves that claim to sit on the shelf BUT DON’T, plus out of town family, hosting, teacher gifts, Christmas parties, hostess gifts, and your stress level is bound to go THROUGH THE ROOF (mine was stressed just typing that)! Slowly but surely, the stress creeps in and the magic falls away for moms. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my kids to associate Stressed-Out-Mom, instead of Fun-Mom (or even Held-It-Together-Mom) when they think of the holiday season.
But what if you could do something TODAY, that would ensure your holiday stress level would be significantly less, so that you could actually ENJOY the holiday season?
I’VE PUT TOGETHER A LIST OF THREE THINGS THAT WILL HELP YOU PRO-ACTIVELY NAVIGATE HOLIDAY STRESS.
REDUCE HOLIDAY STRESS TIP 1: STAY IN YOUR LANE
Do you love to host? Host! Does hosting bring out your worst self? Then DON’T DO IT!
For me, I’ve learned that baking and cooking are NOT MY LANE. I outsource these jobs to my sister or any other wonderful beautiful store…thank you, Trader Joes. I am NOT above store-bought. I am not above still fulfilling my duties to contribute at various potlucks, and just re-packaging whatever food item I bring.
Store bought cookies on a cute plate taste MIGHTY fine...and my kitchen isn't a disaster in the meantime.
Hosting, on the other hand IS MY LANE!
One of the keys to reducing holiday stress, is having enough self-awareness to know where your limits are. I recognize there is oftentimes a lot of family pressure around the holidays, but as an adult, it’s time that you take back your own family’s holiday experience. Don’t give your kids “stressed out mom” – I don’t want that and neither do you. Are you responsible to bring something to the gathering, but cooking and/or a messy kitchen stresses you out? BUY something! Sign up for the thing that fits in your wheelhouse the most. If you can’t stand your partner’s Work Christmas Party where it’s pure surface level schmoozing all night long – THEN SKIP IT. The key is to know your limits and stay within them. This will help you have SUCH a better holiday experience when you cut out the things that don’t bring you actual joy. #justsayno (<—product of the 80’s)
REDUCE HOLIDAY STRESS TIP 2: SCHEDULE FUN MOM
If you are anything like me, your to-do list during the holidays is more akin to the length of Santa's naughty & nice list. When your kids ask you to take them sledding, or for another cup of hot chocolate, it is easy to snap back NO because there are just TOO MANY things to do!
So instead of always saying no, schedule a FUN MOM day. Good Lord, it is so unreasonable to expect any grown adult raising actual children to maintain the same sugar-filled energy that abounds in your kids this holiday season. I get tired just watching them bounce off the walls.
But I have found that if I intentionally set aside the time to be FUN MOM, then everyone in the house wins! My stress and #momguilt go WAY down knowing that my "yeses" are coming, (albeit scheduled and planned - hello Type A moms!) without throwing all of my actual life responsibilities out the window in the name of pleasing my children. Let your kids know - this is the time when the answer is yes. Yes to sledding, yes to playing legos, yes to decorating cookies (or buying them from the store because cha-ching outsourcing is the key to life), yes to gingerbread house making. There is nothing wrong with setting your kids' expectations that life actually takes a lot of work.
At the end of the day though, you and I both have lived long enough to know that the work is not what will bring us joy. Choose something to say yes to that you normally would say no to. Maybe that's sledding, maybe that's a swimsuit in winter for a hot tub dip (gasp! Chill, this is what self-tanner and razors are for), or maybe it's simply a screen time (aka MOVIE) marathon without anyone having to do their normal household chores for the day.
Whatever it is, schedule in at least one time to be a fun mom this holiday season. It will help reduce #momguilt for you all the other days of the week - I promise!
REDUCE HOLIDAY STRESS TIP 3: PLAN REST
This time of year, there are SO many opportunities for PLAY. There’s parades and parties and celebrations left and right – all of which are so good and part of what makes the season special. But no one is meant to just RUN from activity to activity, no matter how many Peppermint Mochas you consume. I remember the first Christmas after we had our second kid, running the Christmas gamut on Christmas Day. We got to the end of the night just SO exhausted and our kids were a WRECK. We decided then and there that we weren’t going to stress EVERYONE out by saying yes to every gathering and celebration and party (even FAMILY).
No, it was time for us to take back Christmas for our own family, and do what was best for us and our kids.
Boundaries can be so healthy, and when done respectfully, will help serve you and your family during the chaos of the holidays.
My hope for the holiday season is to keep the main thing, the main thing. I want to enjoy the magic through the eyes of my kids while they’re little. I want to teach them about the tiny baby that we celebrate this time of year, who changed literally everything for our family. I want to be able to say yes to snuggling, cuddling and watching ALL OF THE CHRISTMAS MOVIES (hello, Candace Cameron and Hallmark).
We can be our best selves during what can be one of the most stressful times of year, and I believe these three strategies in our tool belt will be the key to making that a reality!
WHAT OTHER TIPS HAVE YOU ADAPTED TO HELP YOU REDUCE STRESS DURING THE HOLIDAYS?
Post originally appeared on my blog.