Pillow: Linen & Ivory
The tress are going up, the aisles of Target have been decorated for weeks already, Hobby Lobby smells of the riches of 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 blessit 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. 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?
Today, I’ve put together a list of three things that will help you PRO-ACTIVELY navigate holiday stress.
Reduce Holiday Stress Tip 1: Decorate and Wrap EARLY
I know, this is a controversial subject because all the “early-Christmasers” get a lot of hate for “skipping Thanksgiving”. Look, here’s the thing: our family travels for Thanksgiving. I’m also my BEST self at Christmas time. So why would I not combine the two? WHO CARES if we decorate early!?
If you are limiting the conversation of gratitude to one month a year, you just might be doing it wrong.
It seems awfully silly to cram an entire year’s worth of thanks into 3, maybe 4 weeks. Gratitude is something that we talk about year-round. This is part of the foundation of our family. We still talk about gratitude during the month of November, but our family tradition doesn’t include family and a traditional meal on the third Thursday of the month. I’m sure this is the same for military families, or families that have to work on Turkey Day.
For us, decorating early is fun and reduces SERIOUS stress! Mamas of littles, you especially have little to no time – so please give yourself permission to do these sorts of things when they work best FOR YOU (if at all!). If your partner is out of town, and you want to start trimming that tree because the kids are all in bed already, THEN DO IT. There are no rules on this. You are no less grateful because you “skipped” Thanksgiving. No, sister, you decorate when you freaking want to decorate.
On the wrapping front, several years ago, my girlfriends and I started a jammie party titled, “Under the Tree by December Three”. The premise was have ALL of your gift-purchasing for the holiday season completely done by December 3rd. Yep, you read that right: the first week of December! I’d throw out some cookies and wrapping essentials, invite my girlfriends to come in their Christmas jammies, spike the nog and the cider on the stove and we’d scatter our stuff all over the floor and spend a couple of hours together wrapping all of our presents. What started as an excuse to gather a bunch of moms who rarely got out of the house and had normal adult conversations, turned into the single reason I was NOT stressed during the holiday season.
By decorating my house early, having all of the gifts purchased and wrapped, my mind was freed up to actually ENJOY the holiday season. It also meant that my gifts were actually much more THOUGHTFUL, because I wasn’t lured in by the screaming Black Friday sale or the toy aisle with this year’s Tickle Me Elmo. PRO TIP: this means that you have to start planning, and purchasing gifts in NOVEMBER.
Reduce Holiday Stress Tip 2: 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 (like below) or any other wonderful beautiful store…thank you, Trader Joes. I am NOT above store-bought. But hosting 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, but as an adult and grown person, 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 or they. 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 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 is 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 and 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 – gasp!). 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).
My hope is that 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! The important thing for each of us is to make the choices that will help us do the same.
What other tips have you adapted to help you reduce stress during the holidays?
When do you decorate for Christmas?