The holidays are always something to look forward and at the same time they can also bring a lot of stress and anxiety. Every year I learn a little bit more about how to approach the holidays. Before I had kids, I really had nothing to worry about. I just showed up to enjoy the festivities. Now that I have kids, I feel like there is a list of one hundred things that I have to check and make sure that I’ve completed. I feel like I’ve learned a few things over the years on how to cope with it all.
Every year, my holiday stress starts with figuring out who we are going to be spending our holidays with. I always question if we should be staying home or traveling to family. If we visit family, who do we spend time with and how do we split our time evenly? I also want to respect the traditions that our parents have created over the years and at the same time I want to start creating my own. Year by year we’ve been starting to celebrate Christmas closer to home, and while I feel guilty about it on one hand, I’m excited on the other. I’ve found that communication with family on this topic is sometimes painful, but necessary to make sure everyone can be on the same page.
I also tell myself to remember that the holidays are not about gift buying. It is about being with family and remembering the reason or the season. However, the reality is that gifts need to be bought. I don’t know about you, but I feel like my list of people to buy for is long. Not only can it be expensive, it can be difficult to know what to buy everyone. To tackle the expense part of it, we have a Christmas fund that we put money into each month. When Christmas comes around, we have our money ready to go. To decrease our list of people to buy for, we’ve either started picking names or agreeing to just not exchange gifts with certain people. I’ve also found that the earlier that I can get started on buying gifts, the better. I make a goal every year to have all of my gifts bought and wrapped by December 15th. That way there are 10 days of being engaged and focused on the season with my kids without the stress of running around and buying last minute gifts.
The other part of the holiday season that can seem stressful is making the holidays fun, memorable, and magical for my family. I sometimes laugh at all of the things that I could do. I know Pinterest is fun and all, but I also think that it can make a mom feel like she is falling way short of what’s possible! I’ve learned to pick 5 things to focus on and be good at because I know that I can’t do it all. Some of the traditions that we’ve been doing each year are Elf on the Shelf, baking cookies, decorating our Christmas tree together, making a holiday craft, and doing a volunteer activity together. The main goal is spending time together as a family.
When I reflect back on my most successful holiday seasons, I’ve learned that they’ve always included a strong line of communication and a plan behind all of the holiday madness. The holiday seasons that I’ve been most disappointed with have been where I let the holiday season control me and I didn’t speak up about where I wanted to be for the holidays. My advice to you is to take the time to sit down and plan out your November and December. Be intentional about your outcome and then you will surprise yourself on how well it all turns out.