As a child, I loved everything about Christmas, and the holidays in general. I lived for traveling on Thanksgiving, and rushing down the stairs on Christmas and ripping open all the presents. I’m grateful that as a child, I never had to experience the stress of making the holidays magical. When I became a mom, all of a sudden the stress of holiday magic making became very real.
According to a survey done by the American Psychological Association, nearly a quarter of Americans experience “extreme stress” during the holidays. 69% of people say they feel stressed by a “lack of time” during the holidays, 69% also feel stressed by a “lack of finances,” and 51% are stressed by “pressure to give and get gifts.” According to the APA as well, women are more susceptible to increased levels of stress during the holidays, because women are usually the ones to take charge of holiday planning. All of this shows me that moms are stressed during the holidays!
If this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, then how do we make it wonderful again? We as moms are out here making holiday magic for everyone else, so how do we make some for ourselves? With these 5 tips, my hope is that you’ll take them and create some holiday magic for yourself this season.
Maintain Some Kind of a Routine
During the holiday season, we tend to throw our schedules out the window. Typical activities we do with our children get cancelled, extra things get added to our plates, and before you know it your day has descended into a tinsel lined hole.
Even though some routine will go down the hole, attempting to keep some kind of routine during your days will help everyone in the family. For example, keeping with a semi-regular bedtime can help you get your evenings back (a little bit at least), and it keeps your kids from becoming overtired. If your kids are used to getting out of the house on a particular day, but whatever they usually do is cancelled because of the holidays, then maybe take them to the park or somewhere special instead. It get’s them, and you, similar enough to the usual routine that it doesn’t feel like chaos.
Of course, routines will have to change with family obligations or other gatherings, but keeping things semi-normal in between those times can help keep everyone in the house emotionally stable.
Don’t neglect your own self care
The holiday season is obviously about giving to others, but we often neglect ourselves greatly during this season. We don’t feed our bodies with food that makes us feel the best, we put our hobbies aside for others, we sleep less, and we spend money on everyone else, all while neglecting our own personal needs.
This is why we often feel like we’re so emotionally and physically spent by the time the new year comes around. I know by the time Christmas comes and goes, I’m ready to crawl my introverted self into a hole and not come out until March.
Imagine your brain is like a cup. If you keep dishing out your brain power out to everyone constantly, but doing nothing to refill it, then eventually you’re going to feel depleted. Self care fills up that emotional and social cup in your mind, giving you more to pour out to others.
Give yourself some time to take care of yourself. Put it on your calendar and make it a non-negotiable. If you need some help finding some good self care idea’s, check out these posts:
Keep your personal expectations reasonable
Your house is NOT going to be spotless this holiday season, and that’s ok! You may not be able to get the latest and greatest gifts this Christmas, but that’s ok! The food you cook for your upcoming family dinners may go over like a lead balloon with your kids, but that’s ok!
Understanding that not everything is going to go smoothly takes the pressure off of yourself. The holiday season puts an immense amount of pressure on parents to be the “magic creators,” and for those of us who lack a bit of that holiday sparkle, it can be daunting! Until we realize that we can’t be the sole creators of the holiday magic, then we’re just setting ourselves up for disappointment.
Hold healthy boundaries
The holidays are a time of year when many of us are around people who push our boundaries. Whether it’s the mother-in-law who insists on spending a week at your house when you’d rather it be one night, or it’s the grandpa who insists on hugging and kissing your kids when you’ve made it clear they’re aren’t comfortable, boundaries are often pushed around the holidays. When our boundaries feel violated consistently, it wears us down and makes us feel out of control. This is why sometimes the best self care you can have is saying “no.”
If you find yourself experiencing violated boundaries around the holidays, take note of that and think of how you can protect those boundaries. Let me give you some examples:
- A family member wants to spend a week at your house before Christmas, but that’s too much pressure on you. You can try something like, “We’re not going to be able to accommodate you for that length of time. These dates would work best for us.”
- A family member wants to give your kids hugs and kisses, but your kids aren’t comfortable with it. You can try something like, “My kid’s are all hugged out for the evening. Perhaps a wave goodbye will do for now.”
- A family member wants you to join them for a Christmas get together, but you have too much on your schedule already. You can try, “We’re not going to be able to make it this year.”
- A family member gives you some unsolicited advice that goes against your personal values. You can say something like, “I think we’re ok, thanks.”
The most important tip I can give you when it comes to conserving boundaries is to do it unapologetically. We often allow others to violate our boundaries because we’re afraid of offending someone. The truth is that we offend ourselves and our values more by allowing others to violate our boundaries. It is absolutely possible to hold strong to your personal boundaries and be respectful to others.
Remember that money and things don’t make the holidays special
In a 2015 survey done by Healthline, 47% of those surveyed said that their top stressor during the holidays was finances. In other parts of the world, Christmas is less about gifts and more about family. Some American families make that a point, but a lot of us fall victim to the belief that the biggest boxes make for the best holidays. That is simply not true. I think deep in our hearts we know that, but the toy section at Target makes us question that sometimes.
If money is a big stressor on you during the holidays, remember that the first Christmas was celebrated in a dirty manger in a bed of hay. There was nothing glamorous about the first Christmas when Jesus was born. For a long time before capitalism, Christmas wasn’t about the fanciest gifts, it was about generosity and time with family.
Give yourself some time this season to remember what really makes the holidays special for you. Is it really the gifts? Or is it the wide eyes and giggles of others being generous and kind? If you’ve found that your family has drifted from that mindset, then consider some things you can do as a family to form that mindset. Perhaps that’s setting a budget for gifts, or donating old toys to those in need. Maybe that’s volunteering at local organizations, or participating in gift giving programs for those in need. Finding things that fill your hearts more than empty your pockets I believe makes the holidays so much more magical.
Make The Holidays Magical Again
Moms are stressed out at massive quantities during the holidays. We often spend more time making the holiday magic for everyone else, that we neglect our own needs along the way. This holiday season, I challenge you to make some holiday magic for yourself. Give yourself the self care that you keep putting off all year long. Be comfortable with saying “no” to obligations that stretch you too thin. Keep the holiday expectations reasonable and attainable, and remember that the holiday season is more than what money can buy.
You deserve to have some holiday magic for yourself. Instead of this being the most worry-full time of the year for you, make it wonderful again.