(*Author’s note: I know I used “Christmas” frequently in this post and not everyone reading this post celebrates Christmas. I wish all cultures and religions a happy holiday season!! Please consider the tips and tricks listed above as they are applicable to so many aspects of our lives, regardless of the name of the holiday season! In fact, I could probably apply most of that to any busy season, such as wedding planning, a mom moving her child to college, or a host of other events that can be overwhelming! The main point of the post is that during a time that “celebrating” should be predominant, the lives of mothers often become cumbersome, and I want moms to be able to celebrate as well! Cheers!)
Some people dread the holidays. Others revel in each aspect of it. Some people write a Facebook status in June to signal that Christmas is only 6 months away!!!
No matter what camp you fall into, I think it’s pretty safe to say that moms are EXHAUSTED by the time Christmas arrives on the calendar. And how would they not be? They have created an entirely new level of “above and beyond” during the holiday season-thoughtful gifts, extra cooking, deeper cleaning, doing shopping on behalf of other people in their household, and turning their homes into winter wonderlands that belong in Better Homes & Gardens. Oh yeah, and they fight traffic and lines every step of the way.
So how can moms retain a little more magic during the holiday season? How can they (you!) enjoy it, even just a little more?
Here are some considerations from a St. Louis, MO Therapist:
1) Take a minute to write out a list of people getting gifts from you.
Buy as many of those gifts as you can as early as you can. Maybe that’s two or three gifts a week, so you don’t have to do it all over two or three days, which can just make you feel overwhelmed. Maybe it’s putting it all in your online cart so when you’re ready to push the “purchase” button, you’ve done the thinking, browsing, and deciding. But plan it out and do it early.
Why? Because if the gifts are purchased, that clears up a TON of time to engage in holiday events. It’s also mental energy/brain power released for other needs. (I’ve even read that the deals that pop-up after Thanksgiving aren’t that real/legitimate/good, so you’re not necessarily missing out on savings by purchasing early!)
2) Cut down on gifts where you can—maybe with friends just spend time together.
Or maybe eliminate one Secret Santa group. Perhaps, as a workaround, find a gift you can do in bulk and make that your signature gift! Get on Pinterest and get creative! Homemade fudge or chocolate bark can be easy and effective! Another favorite thing of mine: write a very genuine note to your friends and/or coworkers, showing them during the holiday why you appreciate them so much. It will be remembered long after that fudge is gone!
3) Be realistic about how many holiday parties you want to attend and that you will enjoy.
This is especially important for my introverts out there!! Consider how much you’re drained after events and don’t feel compelled to pack in everything. Surround the days or evenings you have events with some downtime so you can recharge. As you schedule out your holiday calendar, make sure your family events factor into that. Some families love to do more than Christmas Eve or Christmas Day—they do a cookie baking day, a shopping day, go ice skating together, and see a holiday play. Some members of the family feel pressured to say “yes” to all of these events but if you head off those conversations at the pass, you can save yourself a lot of stress and energy come December.
So how exactly do you plan out that calendar? Have a conversation with your spouse about expectations on each side of the family. Also have a conversation with your spouse about how many work holiday events there will be. Look at when all of those are taking place and consider places you might be able to say no. Additionally, talk to your friends about punting a friend celebration to after the holiday. January basically has nothing in it. It’s a dismal month. Punch it up by doing a get-together with your friends once the pace has slowed, instead of squeezing it in when everything is hectic.
4) Do actual holiday things.
I don’t know about you, but there have been seasons I haven’t really done anything too holiday-centric, outside of parties. And, in those seasons, I didn’t enjoy myself as much. Holiday lights. A Christmas concert or play. Baking holiday cookies. Building a gingerbread house. Watching your favorite childhood Christmas movie. I know I just said to be mindful of your calendar in #3 above, and I mean that, but this point is about choosing mindfully and even a little indulgently. The activities you choose can be quiet things you do in as small a group as you want, even if that “group” means you, party of 1.
5) Take a quiet night to celebrate the holiday season with your family, and one to celebrate with your spouse.
Maybe that’s a family picnic in front of the TV with a seasonal movie on. Maybe with your spouse that’s the two of you getting up a little earlier one morning, or staying up later one evening, to enjoy one another’s company. Maybe you can schedule a date outside of the house. But make sure the family members under your roof are part of the reason you’re enjoying the season! Indulge in building traditions with them-making the memories will make you smile, and those memories will warm your heart in the years to come. To make it even more special, let each person in your house pick one activity to do as a family during the holiday.
6) Don’t buy new decorations this year—go right after Christmas!
You guys, I do this every year. I take stock of what I would like to add to or replace in my holiday décor. And then I buy it at 80% off. Even better, when I start decorating the next year, I’m pulling out the items I forgot I purchased and it’s exciting all over again!
7) Give your adult children cooking assignments.
And please, those assignments can and SHOULD BE more than corn. Or rolls. You deserve to enjoy this season, too, so outsource and delegate! Your kids can handle it—after all, they’ve been watching you all these years. For moms that don’t have adult children yet, but your kids can handle some cooking, baking, and cleaning: same advice applies: delegate out!
8) There are holiday planners you can purchase.
Normally, I wouldn’t pass along one more thing to purchase during the season that already costs so much money. But time seems to really become something other worldly between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thus, taking a hard look at your “to do” list and your calendar, and planning accordingly, can be so major in bringing a sense of control and appropriate pace to the holiday season.
9) Cook ahead and freeze.
Cookie dough. Bread. Other desserts. Casseroles. Sides. All can be made ahead, tossed in the freezer, and then pulled as needed! Also: order from the grocery what you can: a holiday platter, a dessert plate. It’s ok! Remember: it’s your holiday season, too! Delegating is allowed and even encouraged!
10) Don’t send holiday cards if you don’t like them. Just don’t.
I challenge you to skip a year and see how it feels. If you don’t like skipping the cards, you can go back to it next year. If you do like skipping them, you’ve permanently crossed off something from the list you didn’t enjoy in the first place. If you want to compromise, send a darling email with the picture and message you would have printed, or just post it to Facebook or Instagram. Easy. Done. Next!
11) Consider the stimulation levels your kids can handle. Adjust accordingly.
Maybe that means having less lights in your house. Maybe that means the same amount of lights but they are plugged in for a shorter amount of time. Consider your holiday schedule and how your kids will be able to handle that pace. Holiday magic can still happen in a quieter environment.
12) Don’t wrap your gifts last minute
You did all that buying and sitting there wrapping a) alone and b) last minute can feel gross (at least, that’s how I feel sometimes). I think holiday spirit should pervade the gift wrapping portion of the season so pace yourself on that. A tree looks even better with gifts under it so consider wrapping a few as they get purchased.
Better yet, join me for a wrapping party I’m hosting on 12/15. Check out the FB event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/327689451148802/
And RSVP on Eventbrite (it’s FREE!) here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-marble-wellness-tickets-52499010955
I’ll be there with extra hands, mimosas, and wrapping paper!