The holiday season creates a paradox for moms. It includes some of our favorite and most beloved holidays, and many families consider it to be one of the most joyous times of the year. But, let’s be honest, for moms it also tends to create stress on steroids. We love it – but it wears us out.
Some of that stress and weariness is unavoidable, in a season filled with gifts, special events, and celebrations. Some of it, though, is entirely preventable – if you take steps to reign it in. The key is to take charge of it now, to be proactive in creating the holiday season you want, rather than letting it unfold and simply reacting to events, pressures and demands on your time.
Is taking charge and being proactive easy? No, in some ways it can be quite difficult. Can it make your life and your family’s life calmer and saner from now through Christmas? Yes, so much so that you may start doing it at other times of the year!
If you want to slow things down this holiday season in order to maintain your sanity and enjoy your life and family, here are five steps to take – beginning this week:
Figure out what you really want.
If you’re married, do this with your spouse. What does an ideal Christmas or holiday season like to you? What does it look like to your spouse? Talk about it openly and honestly, and listen to what he has to say. Don’t be surprised if the ideal holiday season looks very different to the two of you. Be intentional about bringing all of your hopes and expectations out in the open, and encourage him to do the same.
Establish your priorities.
Now that you know what’s most important to each of you, establish priorities. Maybe for your spouse it’s spending relaxed time as a family and doing outdoor activities. Maybe for you it’s starting the holiday season with a clean, uncluttered house and entertaining small groups of friends. Let each other know, “This is what’s most important to me over the next few weeks.” Then agree to honor each other’s priorities and make them happen. And recognize that, in doing so, each of you will have to let go of some of your favorite activities. Because if you don’t, you’ll be right back to trying to do everything and driving yourself crazy.
Let go of things that don’t fit your priorities.
This is where things start to get hard. In order to maintain your sanity and create the kind of holiday season want for your family, some things will have to go. In other words, you will have to say “no.” You can’t attend every event, accept every invitation, make every gift, and decorate every inch of the house – not if you want to relax and enjoy the things you’ve determined are most important. Obviously, some activities are required. But some are not. So you may have to say no to your neighbor’s dessert buffet, your aunt’s Christmas cantata, your daughter’s friend’s skating party, or your sister-in-law’s all-day shopping trip. Because you can’t do everything – and this year you want to focus on the things that will make the season fun, relaxing and memorable for your family.
Schedule the activities you really want to do.
Let each family member pick one or two favorite activities and schedule them now. Put them on your calendar, so that when other things come up you can say, “Sorry, we already have something scheduled.” Maybe your son likes to visit a tree farm and cut down the perfect Christmas tree, your daughter loves the Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo, your husband wants to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and drink hot chocolate, and you love for the entire family to bake cookies together. Schedule those things now; that way, you’re certain to make time and space for them in your schedule.
Ask for and accept help.
Don’t be the “Christmas mom” who does everything herself and collapses under the weight of stress and fatigue on Christmas Eve. Ask other people to help – then get out of the way and let them do it! For example, my husband always shops for the Christmas gifts for our sons. We talk about what we want to get for them, but then he does the shopping. Great – that’s one less thing on my list. He’s more than willing to do other things too. I just need to ask, then get out of the way and let him do those things. Your spouse is probably willing to do the same, but you may need to ask.
This holiday season can be fun and relaxing this year, if you do a few things now to keep it from spiraling into craziness. If you’re looking for more ideas to keep the holidays calm this year, download this free ebook, 75 Healthy Ideas for Your Life and Marriage this Christmas.