They say that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year – so why does it feel like an unavoidable stress-fest?
As a parent, there is a lot of pressure at Christmastime to create the most amazing and magical celebration for your little ones. Between gifts, decorations and experiences, you want every year to be perfect.
Amongst that desire to have an awesome Christmas comes the feeling that you are taking crazy pills as soon as the calendar hits December.
(Or even earlier for those of you who actually, you know, get a jump start on Christmas before December 1st.)
If you find yourself stressing during the holiday season, it may be time to slow down and take stock of what is really going on.
Here are ten ways that you can keep your sanity during the Christmas season:
1. Own Your Inner Grinch
Just because you have little ones doesn’t mean you have to be Buddy the Elf 24-7 during Christmastime. Every day doesn’t have to be filled with fun and exciting Christmas activities.
In fact, you really shouldn’t force yourself to get “excited” about Christmas.
Personally, I’m not one to get excited for Christmas and I used to feel guilty about not bursting with Christmas joy after my daughter was born.
What I learned was that it’s okay to be a Grinch from time to time. The decorations are up, gifts are wrapped and my daughter is excited. That’s good enough for me.
2. Cut Yourself Some Slack
It can be easy to fall into the trap of trying to make Christmas “perfect” for your children. The truth is, that’s never going to happen.
At least not from your perspective.
It’s okay not to roll out the holidays perfectly and to experience mishaps along the way. Maybe you didn’t get the most beautiful Christmas tree. Or maybe you didn’t have time to get all of your holiday baking done.
It’s okay – and it’s okay to give yourself a break. No one else is going to know that Christmas didn’t meet your expectations.
3. Be Mindful of the Present
And I don’t mean the one you’re wrapping to put under the tree.
The more you focus on the insanity of Christmas, the more you will lose your grip on the true experience. Sometimes you just need to sit back and take in the beauty of the season.
Take some time to truly enjoy the magic of Christmas – go for a drive with your kids to look at lights, experience the unique tastes of the season (egg nog coffee, anyone?), find a looping fireplace on YouTube to put on while you spend time with your family.
Being mindful of the present will help you truly appreciate and enjoy Christmas.
4. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
With everyone being on social media in one form or another it’s easy to caught in the comparison trap, especially at Christmastime.
You know what I’m talking about – the families with matching pajamas, little ones decorating immaculate cookies, a plethora of gifts under the tree.
You’ll see these posts and images all over Facebook and Instagram and it may make you feel like your Christmas is inadequate.
For one thing, the people posting these things typically craft and pose these images to look perfect. What they don’t show you is the chaos happening behind the scenes.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret that applies to the overall flavor of this post: Your kids aren’t going to remember the finer details of Christmas. They are going to remember the fun and the love.
If you can make that happen, you’re golden.
5. Make Time for Self-Care
Parents have enough on their plates the rest of the year so it’s no wonder they completely burnout come Christmastime.
You can prevent this from happening by making time in your schedule for your own self-care.
Self-care, simply put, is the act of taking care of yourself. This can include any activity that makes you feel at peace and in touch with yourself.
Yes, Christmas can be hectic for many families but it’s important to carve out this time and prioritize your self-care in order to maintain a sense of calm and reduce your stress.
6. Don’t Be a Stickler for Tradition
Traditions are great and can really instill a sense of connection within a family but, when that tradition can’t be fulfilled, the results can be disappointing.
Life happens and perhaps you won’t have time for that yearly sleigh ride or maybe your finances can’t accommodate your family Christmas pictures.
This year is a fantastic example of why we shouldn’t be sticklers for tradition, given the pandemic that has crippled the world.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have traditions – you just need to be flexible when it comes to plans changing.
If this the case for you and your family, this may be the year to start new family traditions.
7. Balance Your Schedule
Shopping and decorating and wrapping and baking and visiting…Christmas is definitely a busy time of year!
There are many Christmas activities that can’t be avoided but you can reduce the stress associated with them by balancing out your schedule.
Look at getting started early in the year when it comes to preparing Christmas gifts and try not to leave anything to the last minute. This will give you more time to balance other activities you want or need to complete.
For example, don’t leave all of your buying and wrapping to a week before Christmas and expect to also visit family and friends.
You’ll only end up overwhelmed. Look at what has to be done and figure out a way to spread these tasks over a longer period of time.
8. Set Boundaries with Friends and Family
Christmas is that time of year when family and friends want to spend time with you to share the joy and excitement. However, when visits and parties fill up your schedule, it’s okay to say “no”.
Also, you may have meddling family members who use gatherings as a perfect opportunity to voice their opinions and share commentary about your life and parenting choices.
In any situation when someone is overstepping your boundaries or placing undue expectations on you, it’s okay to decline with kindness.
Let them know that you appreciate their concerns and invitations but you simply don’t have the time (or mental energy) to entertain them.
9. Perform an Act of Kindness
It’s a fact that acting out of kindness is a huge boost to mental health and can help alleviate stress – especially around Christmastime.
This is an amazing time of year to perform acts of kindness and a great way to teach your children about appreciation and gratitude.
You can help out a friend or family member in need to do something anonymous and random like paying for someone’s order in a drive-thru lineup or leaving small candy canes on windshields of vehicles at the mall.
You don’t need to see the fruits of your efforts in order for them to have a positive impact on your mental health.
10. Stick to Your Budget
It’s impossible to talk about the stresses of Christmas without mentioning money.
There’s no denying that Christmastime can be an expensive time of year and it can leave many families in financial distress.
Approach the holiday season with a budget and stick to it. Will your Christmas be extravagant? Maybe not, but you’ll come out the other side with far less financial stress.
Remember that the spirit of Christmas is the joy and connection you get to experience with your family – the rest is simply fluff.
Don’t let your own expectations of Christmas cause you stress.
Have any other tips for a stress-free Christmas? Share them in the comments!