Moms, feeling burned out with all the Christmas preparations? Here are some tips to achieve a stress-free holiday with the family.
What can you read in this article?
- Why is mom always on top of Christmas preparations?
- Stress free holidays – here’s how Dad and the kids can share the load
- Ways to make Christmas special without putting much pressure on yourself
Christmas is my favorite holiday. I loved it since I was a kid. There’s so much magic in the air. I loved listening to Christmas songs while eating the delicious pastries that my mom baked, looking at our beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and finding a present underneath for me and my siblings each year. I loved it so much that I vowed to make the season really special for my kids too.
But I didn’t realize how stressful the holidays would be now that I’m a mom.
“As a grown-up, I’ve realized that all the ‘Christmas magic’ that I felt as a kid was a mom who loved me so much.”
This quote could not be more true. It wasn’t at all like the Christmas I remembered where I just got to sit around waiting for the magic to happen. Now the family depended on me to make the season magical.
While I still love the holidays, I realized that this is one of the busiest season for moms.
We just have so much on our list – choosing, buying and wrapping presents for EVERYONE, decorating the Christmas tree, making an advent calendar, scheduling activities, making sure everyone has nice clothes for Christmas, getting the family together for the Christmas photo for the gram (which is our version of the annual Christmas card), creating holiday traditions – all that on top of our usual responsibilities as the homemaker.
And the longer the list of our Christmas things to do grows, the shorter our patience gets. Recently, I lost it to my kids in the middle of decorating our DIY gingerbread house.
And while no one can argue that everything we do, we do out of love, sometimes I can’t help but wonder why most, if not all of the burden of “creating the magic” falls on us moms.
All I want for Christmas is a stress-free holiday
According to a recent article on CNN, the holidays, particularly the Christmas season, are most exhausting for moms. And it’s mostly because of all the mental load that falls on us on this time of year.
“There is a longstanding tradition that women not only come home to the second shift of housework and childcare, but they are also expected to do what we call “the third shift” of creating the holiday magic.
Let me tell you, as a parent, the ‘magic’ is the hardest,” said Brigid Schulte, director of Better Life Lab, a US-based think tank company that aims to elevate the value of care and advance gender equity.
“This pressure can make the day really awful for the person who is planning it all. Look at stress that happens over the holidays, and depression. It’s really untenable for women. The holidays are magic for everyone except Mom,” she added.
So, is there a way for the family to lighten mom’s load so she can also enjoy the holidays? Schulte, and her co-director Haley Swenson think there is. In fact, to help distribute the emotional and domestic labor of the holiday seasons more fairly between partners and families, their team at Better Life Lab came up with a series of accessible and easily implementable experiments for that purpose.
How to deal with holiday stress
According to Schulte and Swenson, the first step in creating a stress free holidays is to sit down and encourage all the family members to think about which traditions really matter to them, and which create more stress than meaning.
“When we are so busy it’s easy to just think of the list of things you have to get through, and then you own it.
But if you took the hour to sit down with the family and name that list, and not only name that list but say, ‘What are we going for? What do we want the holidays to look like?’ you can set realistic expectations,” said Swenson.
“When the family is together discussing the holiday, the mom gets to say that she wants to enjoy the day, and that she doesn’t want to be the stressed-out person yelling at everybody,” added Schulte.
So without being too formal about it, gather the members of the family (meaning hubby and the kids) and discuss your Christmas plans together. Eveybody gets to say what their favorite part of Christmas is, and what activities do they feel they’re okay with not having. Then you can delegate some tasks to each member of the family so they can contribute to the Christmas spirit while spending time together as a family.
6 ways to have a stress-free holiday with the family
Image from Pexels
The holidays can be a source of stress for some, but these tips should help you manage even the most stressful moments during the holidays!
1. Get the whole family to help.
The season is really about spending time with the people you love most- your family. So why not creating more happy memories together by doing all the work together? Here are some ways that dad and the kids can help to make Christmas special for everyone:
- Decorate the tree. Get dad to put up the tree and the lights, while the kids hang the ornaments on it.
- Drive around to relatives house and deliver the presents. It’s also a great way for the kids to be able to go around during the pandemic. Just make sure they stay in the car and practice social distancing.
- Help out in the kitchen. While they can’t probably whip up a mean dish like you can, surely dad and the kids can handle the fruit salad, right?
- Take over some of your chores. While you’re busy wrapping the presents or preparing for Noche Buena, maybe the kids can clean up the living room or wash the dishes so you can have the time to relax as well.
- While they’re at it. Remind the kids to keep the mess to a minimum. Your tasks will be done quicker if you’re not cleaning up after them all the time.
- Let them make the Christmas cards or brainstorm the theme for Christmas photos this year.
When the kids are preoccupied, you have more time on your hands, and more than that, they get to spend more time with dad.
2. It’s okay to not invite some people over for Christmas.
Not everyone is on good terms with their relatives. And the last thing that a busy mom or dad needs during Christmas would be to deal with a person that they don’t like being with, especially if it causes you to get stressed out.
It might seem rude, but it’s totally okay to not invite people you don’t want to come over for Christmas. You can just send them a greeting card or call them up to greet them. But as far as inviting them to your home, you can totally skip that if you want to.
3. Remember that you can’t please everyone, and you don’t have to.
If you’re planning Christmas dinner at your home, then you don’t need to listen to all of the criticism you hear. Not everyone is going to be totally happy with how you’re going to go about your Christmas dinner and that’s okay.
“Be careful with all those shoulds. Comparison is the thief of joy. Stay in your lane and trust that what you have to give your family (and others) is enough. Celebrate others, but don’t do things out of feeling like it’s what you ‘should’ do for the holidays. Do what feels aligned and forget the rest,” reminded Jazmine McCoy, a clinical psychologist and parenting coach.
Just do your own thing and focus on how you want your holiday to be. After all, you’re going to be the one doing the hard work.
4. Not everything needs to be perfect
You can’t always have the “perfect” Christmas dinner. But that shouldn’t stop you from having fun and enjoying the holidays. Resist the urge to make everything perfect and according to how you or other people think it should be.
“Christmas is not meant to be perfect. It is not about to-do lists or making sure everything is done on an automatic time schedule. It is not about fitting as much as you can into the holiday season,“said Jaimi Erickson, the mom behind the blog Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Guide.
“While we are busy making Christmas PERFECT we are missing out on our children experiencing the feeling. We miss out on all the things I remember as a child. Our view of how the Christmas season should be gets in the way of all the wonder of the season that is happening for our children right now!” she added.
Focus on what’s really important: spending time with your family and enjoying the true essence of Christmas, which is a time for giving and a time for reflecting on the past year. It’s also a time for you and your family to start looking forward to the new year!
5. Your happiness is also important
It’s important for you to spend some time with yourself during the holidays. Try to not get yourself stressed out or tired due to all the preparation and things that you’ll be doing during the holiday season.
Focus on yourself and give yourself some peace this year. If you’re not in your best condition, it would be hard for you to be able to take care of your family.
6. You don’t always have to plan everything
While it’s nice to have some control over the activities that you’ll be doing during the holidays, it’s not a good idea to plan everything out too much.
Instead, just try and focus on spending time with your family and having a stress-free holiday. Relax, and just have fun! They say that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, and you should definitely make it so!
Anecdotes and additional information by Camille Eusebio
Parenting, Global News Canada, CNN