Here are my top 7 tips for a less stressful holiday season. I told my mom, "Wow, the holidays are a lot of work as a grown-up!" Yes, yes they are - if you make it that way.
The holidays bring on a ton of demands - cookie making, present buying and wrapping, budgets, debt, family get togethers, family drama, cleaning, parties - yes, a ton of demands. Sure, these things are fun but when all of these demands come at once, for many people, especially mamas of little ones, the holiday season is extremely stressful.
However, it doesn't have to be so stressful. The holiday season is meant to be a time where we reflect on our faith, spend more quality time with the people we love and give to others. It is up to us to get totally wrapped up in the consumerism of the holidays. It is up to us to keep the gifts simple and from the heart or to get more into debt. It is up to us to decide to steer clear of all the extended family drama and eating too much junk food and instead take care of ourselves. This is our choice.
Our kids are going to remember the simple things regarding Christmas. They will remember the snow falling while helping you put on the ornaments. They are going to remember dad getting home early from work and the entire family watching Elf and having hot chocolate one night instead of running from kids activity to the next. They are going to remember going to visit grandparents and cousins. They will remember the way you got dressed up on Christmas Eve. They will remember the experiences not all the stuff.
Here are my top 7 tips for a less stressful holiday season:
1. Less is more. Less stuff. More memories. Brian and I are on a mission in our home to get rid of all the clutter. Sit down with your hubby and chat about how you can give your kiddos and other family and friends gifts that are experiences instead of stuff - a museum pass, movie tickets, one big family gift instead a bunch of little things that take up space. For my kids, less is most definitely more. For example, they each have one baby that they love. If I get them a baby doll every year, last year's baby will just end up in the never-ending toy pile. Don't buy things just because thats what everyone does. Do what you and your hubby want. Think about it and think about what the kids really need instead of what they say they want. A few toys are a must from Santa but keep it simple. Don't be afraid to tell grandparents what you want them to get your kids.
2. Start buying when you see something special. The other day, I sat down for about 10 minutes and jotted down a list of all of the family and friends that we buy for. Under each person's name I jotted down ideas for gifts. I also wrote down a budget amount. This way, when I am looking for girls, I have a number in mind. I try to pick up little things throughout the year instead of just buying to buy in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
3. Start your holiday cards now (If you do them). Don't wait until the week before Christmas to start addressing envelopes. No fun. Start early and do a few every night and before you know it, they are done! For me, this is always the task that gets dropped because I run out of time. If it is important to you, make it happen! If it is not, no worries. When my girls were really little I took this task off my list.
4. Stay on track with your food, water and exercise. It is so easy to get lazy around the holidays and fall out of routine. My advice is to stay on track even MORE during the holidays. Get to the gym more. Eat even healthier. Make more meals at home - like my Grandma's Spanish Rice. When you work hard towards your health and wellness goals you won't want to blow it all by eating an entire bowl of candy that the Elf left your kiddos. The guilt afterwards is just not worth it. Enjoy a couple treats but keep your health goals in mind. Enjoy your mom's cookies, every bite. Yet, don't eat them everyday. Remember that your goals are still going to be there after the holidays and the least thing you want is to feel like you gained 20 lbs.
5. Have healthier treats available. I am a huge fan of "crowding out." If healthier and real-food treats are in the home and available, the blow of letting go of all the junk food is not as dramatic. This week, consider making some real-food desserts to have ready to go when your kids (and you) are craving some sweets. Check out some ideas here. Make some peanut butter and chocolate banana "ice cream." I bet no one will complain. Have fresh fruit available for you and your kids. Have a plan.
6. Learn to say NO. It is totally OK to say NO to things. Don't have time to go to 4 holiday parties in the same week? Say NO. Decide what is a priority to you and your family and plan on saying No to the rest of it. Yep, that simple. Learn to say NO to family and friend commitments that may just not make you feel festive this year. It is OK to let go of some traditions that may not be serving you anymore. Remember that you are in charge of your life and what you want your holidays to be. Stand up for yourself. It is quite amazing!
7. Get support. Talk to your kids and your partner about what you expect from them over the holidays. Get your holiday stress off your chest. It feels good and it is healthy. You want your hubby helping in the kitchen this year? Tell him. You want your mom to buy your kids gift cards for experiences instead of more toys? Tell her. I bet she has no idea. Get on the same page and remember that the holidays are supposed to be fun. Keep them simple and fun!
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