A few years ago, I looked around the day after Christmas, I looked at all the decorations, the leftover cookies, the piles of toys and wrapping paper…
I made all this happen, I thought. I put up the decorations, I baked the cookies, I did the shopping… my children were ecstatic, my husband relaxed and full of holiday cheer…
I though, I felt drained. I felt like Christmas had come and gone and I had missed it, all the fun, all the joy.
Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to see my family excited and happy, I found joy in their smiles and fun… I just had the sense that I had missed out on the important part, that I’d let the stress and business get the better of me and gotten caught up in the stuff that doesn’t really matter and missed what does.
Here’s the thing, I don’t think I’m alone with feeling that way. I think for mom’s the holidays can easily become a time of stress. A time we spread ourselves too thin, add more to our already full plates, and find ourselves overwhelmed so caught up in All.The.Things. that we miss the important one.
For me I want to enjoy the holidays, laugh with my kids, savor the flavors, the smells, the sounds. Take pictures, make memories… Have FUN! That’s what the holidays are about, the love, the joy, the magic.
So how do we embrace those things? How do we get our minds off the to-do lists and onto what matters? Over the last couple of years I’ve made an effort to be very intentional with my time, energy, and feelings during this season and focused on making it joyful! There is actually a lot you can do, with minimal effort, to feel the Christmas magic again!
Be intentional with gift giving– So the first thing I realized is that a lot of my stress was coming from trying to figure out what to get everyone, wondering how much they were spending, if I was doing enough. What to get people who had everything, or that I was only buying for out of obligation. Then I would look at all the toys and books, and STUFF in my kid’s room and wonder why in the world I was filling my Amazon cart with more things to add to that mess.
So I took a step back. Who do I really want to buy for? Who could we maybe make things for? Who would benefit more from a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or salon instead of another thing? If you have a big family and find yourself stressed from buying for everyone chances are you’re probably not alone in that. Contact them, suggest a gift exchange instead, or handmade gifts, maybe a limit on spending, or do away with it all together, most people feel pretty overwhelmed by the stuffness of life these days.
When it comes to the kids take a look at what they really want, what they really need. When you find yourself buying things just to bulk up the pile under the tree ask yourself why?? Is that going to make or break their Christmas? In 3 months is it going to be in the back of the closet or bottom of the toy box? Think about what will truly bring your kids joy, what they’ll actually use and go from there. Be picky about what you get them and you can even set a limit for number of things if your kids wishlist tends to go overboard!
Get your shopping/ saving done early- Speaking of gift buying… Nothing stresses out the holidays as quickly as money! After pairing down my list, and limiting what I was planning to spend on the kids I knew it was time to figure out how to get it all done ahead of time next year. Some years my kids don’t know what they want until about 2 weeks before Christmas, but that’s ok if the money is there ready to be spent on what ever they decide on.
Whether you shop early or wait until close to the holidays come up with a plan to have the money ready! Figure out what you spend and divide it into weekly or monthly amounts start setting it aside. If that doesn’t work plan ahead to save your tax return, if you get bonuses or any other extra money throughout the year, put it into an account. Whatever you need to make it work, make a plan!
Do what makes you feel Christmasy- What is your favorite thing about the holidays? Is it cookies? Maybe its driving through lights? Do you love Christmas movies, the extra cheesy the better? Maybe you love shopping, strolling through the mall with its holiday buzz. Take time to do those things!! I know for me its watching White Christmas, it is my favorite holiday movie, watching it puts me in the Christmas mood! Even if it’s not something your family enjoys with you, carve out an hour or two and give yourself time to enjoy what you love!
Minimize your obligations- Let me guess, part of your holiday stress centers around all the obligations you have outside your family? You’ve got school, church, kids activities, work parties, friends gatherings… the list goes on. You volunteer to make cookies, help decorate, set up, clean up… whatever! Let me tell you something… it is ok to say no!! Say yes to the ones that bring you joy, that make you feel good about the holiday, but if you’re doing it out of obligation or begrudgingly because you got guilted into it… don’t do it! Your peace and sanity is the most important thing, saving some energy for your family is priority, pick your commitments with intention and without overextending.
Take time for fun! – Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that you forget that the holidays are fun!! Take time to play in the snow with your kids, make some hot cocoa and a batch of cookie dough & just eat the dough! Go through their toys and try to remember what games or toys they got last year and play with them! Go out and have some fun just you and your girlfriends, a cup of coffee or girls night out shopping or pampering! Feel the light-hearted fun vibe that is the holiday season and embrace it!! It may sound simple, it may sound like something we shouldn’t have to be reminded to do but make fun a priority on your list!
Making some simple changes can help you find peace and joy this holiday season and for years to come!!