The holiday season is officially upon us, and this year, I challenge parents to join me in saying a firm NO to holiday stress. Here are three holiday mantras I will be saying to myself until the garland and bulbs are packed away.
You need think about whether or not doing something will actually make the holiday better. We need to downsize our expectations we put on ourselves to make the holidays picture-perfect. It’s a special time of the year and will be memorable, no matter what. Ultimately, you want the memories your kids take with them to be of Mom enjoying the holidays with them and not Mom being utterly exhausted and spent come January 1st. List the three or four things you want to focus on this season and cross the rest off your list. If something doesn’t make your holiday better, let it go. If you can ask yourself, “Will this make the holiday better” and the answer is, “No,” then move on!
You need to remember that you are the manager, not the do-er. The holidays is one of the most stressful times for parents. Right after we get adjusted to back-to-school and morning routines, we ramp back up to holiday shopping, decorating, cooking and all sorts of other prep. You have your to-do list of holiday tasks, but there’s the inevitable parts of hosting a holiday that can become too much. This is the time when you need to start being the manager of your list – not the doer. Go through your list and assign. Make holiday dinners a pot-luck. Assign guests a side dish and focus on the main course. Tell your spouse what you need done. Involve the kids in things for small hands – they might not be fast, but they work. Plus, you can always say “the kids helped” and you become this fantastic parent who gave kids a responsibility and didn’t fix their mistakes. Bravo! What other helpers do you have in your life? Parents, friends, babysitters? Lean on them too. Hire a housekeeper to clean before and after your guests arrive. Ask your date night sitter to wrap presents (or assemble the Barbie Dream House) after the kids go to sleep. There’s no shame in saving your sanity, parents.
You need to focus on what counts. What do you really want your kids to get out of the holidays? The best gift, or the sentiment of being together, feeling gratitude and falling in love with giving to others? We often work so hard that we don’t get to be IN the moment with our kids. We just create the moment. It’s not the same thing. We need to put down what we’re doing, leave our phone in the other room, and get in on the fun. Create some family traditions. Watch a different holiday movie every Friday night. Deliver cookies to neighbors or nursing homes. Go outside and play in the snow or leaves until your cheeks feel like they’re going to freeze off. Make homemade gifts for each other. This is the true holiday spirit.