6 Tips for Less Holiday Stress

December 9, 2017

 

It’s that time of year when we are supposed to be preparing for “perfect” holiday

gatherings.

 

You know what I'm referring to...perfectly cooked dinners, beautifully decorated cookies, well behaved kids and all the relatives happily gathering together. 

To me, this brings so much pressure that we just don't need! 


 

Building Memories?
I remember when our kids were little and we'd stuff our tiny Civic with car seats, diaper bags, toys and luggage to get back home to family. Do you know what else I remember? 

  • Trying to keep a baby and toddler happy while they were stuck in car seats for 6 hours (this was well before portable DVD players existed!)

  • Living out of suitcases

  • Toddlers without naps (not fun!)

  • Lost sleep because the kids couldn't settle in

  • Wanting to truly enjoy the holiday but feeling stressed and exhausted

 

Can you relate? 
 

Let's Get Real

 

Despite the gorgeous Pinterest pins and the ever perfect Hallmark Christmas movies, there is a reality they don't show. You know them as well as I do:

  • The stress of all that shopping and wrapping

  • Meals that take hours to cook

  • Relatives that you want to love but they just make it so difficult

  • Cranky kids who are tired and throw a full blown tantrum "just because"

  • In-laws that try your every ounce of patience

  • Expectations of others on your time, energy or finances

 

What's the Goal?

 

I remember one Christmas Eve at my parents' home, it was 2 am and I was rocking our 4-month-old in the same rocker my mom had rocked me. He was really sick with croup and the poor thing was exhausted.

 

I will never forget my dad joining me in the living room, keeping me company as I cried. I was scared because the baby was sick but I was overwhelmed because I was trying to make sure Christmas was "perfect." 

Dad, in all his wisdom, reminded me that "perfect" wasn't the goal. Being together as a family was. Even more importantly, he said if it was just too much dragging the kids back and forth then I had to decide what was best for my little segment of our big family.

Talk about feeling relieved!! That day Dad gave me something that I'm now going to give to you...PERMISSION. 

 

Change Things Up

Those of you who are in my parenting Facebook group know I strongly recommend self-care and down time for family fun in a relaxed, easy manner. This season I'm giving you permission to set some boundaries that will help you do both.

You may be thinking, "But I can't do that! They all expect me to do everything I always do." To that I ask, "Is the stress really worth it?" 

Instead of shooting for that Pinterest Perect holiday I say...

  • It’s okay to postpone a visit until later in the day so your child can nap. You’ll be thankful for a well-rested, well-behaved child and enjoy the visit more.

  • Your meal or cookies don't have to look like the front of a magazine cover. Cook with love, that's all that matters! 

  • Allow your kids of all ages to have a break from visiting with family, sometimes too much time together can be overwhelming. 

  • It’s okay to set parameters on how long visitors will stay with you or you will stay at someone else’s home.  It’s wonderful for a short time, keep it that way!

  • It's not about the stuff!
    If you're dreading an overload of presents hitting your home, I have some ideas that will avoid that mess! Click here to receive my FREE Holiday Gift Guide that has 25 experience based ideas that will build memories instead of more mess in a closet. 

  • Allow for spontaneous fun!
    My kids still talk about the Christmas Eve at my parents’ home when we woke up to an unexpected lake effect snowstorm. What a perfect way for them to burn off some energy!

    We dressed them in Nana’s and Grandpa’s boots and winter coats and set them lose to go dig through the snow banks. Being from Columbus the kids hadn’t seen snow as deep as Lake Michigan can create outside of Chicago! Allowing them that playtime was the “best thing ever!”

 

BONUS TIP:  Allow some things to not get done!

It’s okay if you didn’t get Christmas cards written. It's fine if your presents aren't wrapped perfectly...use gift bags, it's so much easier! 

 

 You are only one person and you’re a parent, sometimes we need to let some things go. (Yep, another lesson learned by this crazy mom!)

And so, for the next few weeks remember the reason we gather with family and friends is to build memories which we’ll pass from generation to generation.

 

Instead of getting caught up in the “shoulds”, just accept what is and enjoy your time together.  

Happy Holidays!

If you're looking for helpful tips and strategies as a parent,stepparent or part of a stepcouple...Join me in our FB group and post your questions there.
It's a safe place to talk about the hard parts of parenting!

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