If you’re a busy mom and you’re reading this, you know this time of year is about to come barreling at you and punch you in the face. I don’t mean that I don’t love Christmas time. Because I do. I love decorating, the looks on my kiddos faces, and of course, the food. But. It can get super overwhelming. And yes, I aimed this post at busy moms, but it can be overwhelming for anyone. I’ve been thinking of ways to take it down a notch and keep the crazy away. That’s why I made 5 anti-stress tips for Christmas.
First things first. I’m not a Scrooge. I honestly love this time of year. It seems like people are going out of their way for charitable organizations. We’re decorating like BHG is gonna walk straight up in our house and take pics of our lovely decor. Or trying to anyway. And there are parties at school, parties at work, parties for family. Lots and lots of fun stuff.
But all that above stuff takes time. And often money. Two things that most people don’t have enough of. So get control of the chaos and punch it right back in the face.
5 Anti Stress Tips for Christmas
How do you say no when there’s so much you NEED to do? Choose your “yes’s wisely. Can you help at the kid’s school party, but not host the work party? Fine. Do you really need to DIY a gift for each teacher? No. You don’t. If you want to get teacher gifts which is lovely, buy them a gift card. Have your kids make a homemade thoughtful card thanking them for teaching them.
One more Secret Santa group to be a part of. Nope. Do you really need another gift?
Are the yearly Christmas cards just too much? Picking out the perfect clothes, stressing about how you look, and then not to mention the cost to order them and mail them! I remember one year when my son was tiny. And I tried to get the perfect pic – and let me tell you: It was anything but perfect. I had this ridiculous Santa suit for him. He was boiling in that thing and screaming. And the pic sucked. It was terrible. Then I stressed about what to put on the card, who to send one to, do I attach a cool “family letter”?
Pretty sure that was the last year I did cards and I’ve never looked back. It was just one task that didn’t make the cut on the list of yes things.
Think about the things that truly bring you joy each Christmas. Say yes to those. I would bet lots of them cost very little or no money at all.
Be you. And be happy with what you’re able to do this Christmas. Is money tight? Is it overwhelming because your kids are getting older and their wish lists are getting more pricey? I get it. The days of a Barbie Doll or a basketball are over. It’s Xbox consoles, IPads, phones, American Girl Dolls and all the other gifts that cost over $100 each.
Do what you can and what your budget allows and that’s it. They’ll be fine. The kids won’t melt and turn into pumpkins because they don’t get every single thing on their list.
Just because someone else can afford more, doesn’t mean you’re a lesser parent. It’s ok and your kids will be just fine. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Are you using the same decorations you’ve had for years? So what? I bet they’re sentimental and bring back happy memories. I was out shopping recently and I was in love with the new Magnolia line at Target. But it was completely ridiculous for me to change out all my decor with new stuff. I ended up with two faux trees from the dollar bins and called it good. It’s ok if your tree isn’t themed or you don’t have the perfect color scheme throughout the whole house.
It’s ok if your house doesn’t look like a winter wonderland inside and out. Every time I’ve gotten caught up in the whole “perfect decor”, I can assure you, I’m the only one in the fam that gives a rats behind about it. My kids don’t care if it’s perfect. My husband doesn’t either. You don’t have to have Instagram worthy decor. You don’t.
Does your “Elf” simply move from one room to the other? So what. Don’t stress over elaborate schemes if you don’t want to or just can’t do it. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s not meant for you to have to clean up flour from your entire house because “Doug” decided to play in the fake snow all night.
Don’t compare yourself to others that may have more time, money, or desire to do these things. And this is not to say that those people shouldn’t do them. If the cards and the “Elf” antics are what bring you joy, by all means, do it. But if you’re like me and it brings on more stress, skip it!
Set a Budget and DON’T go in debt.
Do it. Sit down and write it out. Everything. The gifts, the decorating, the meals, the donations. Everything. Take some time when you can think quietly about exactly what you can afford. Do not make January the worst month of the year when those credit card bills start rolling in. It’s not worth it.
Get an app like Santa’s Bag. Give everyone an amount. Add each gift and see where you stand on the money. And when the budget is met for a certain person, you’re done.
And if your budget is small, it’s ok. Yes, I know. It’s so hard to disappoint kids. You feel like you want to make their day magical.
But if mommy and daddy are miserable come January trying to pay bills, you’ve made a mistake. And whatever your budget is, that’s great. Just have one. If you plan all year and save and you can go all out for Christmas, good for you! Just don’t go in debt.
I know. I just told you to say no, take it down a notch, set a budget, blah, blah, blah. But seriously. Think about doing something good for someone in need. Is your gym collecting canned foods? Is your kid’s school doing a coat drive? Can you sponsor a foster child this Christmas? Serve at a homeless shelter? Give of your time and your money if you can. There are people in need and you can help.
Have no money to give? Fine – Visit a nursing home and if they’ll let you – take a pet or a child. I worked in nursing homes for 5 years. The absolute happiest days for the residents occurred when the social workers had visits from children or pets lined up. Not kidding. This beat out any other activity.
Or volunteer at a homeless shelter. Sign up to help somewhere. Help is priceless this time of year. There are so many organizations collecting. Someone has to help distribute those donations.
One way we are giving this year is through sponsoring foster children. My kids are 11 and 8 so they are old enough for me to explain that there are many children right now in our area that are less fortunate. And one way for us to help is to do our part to support them.
And again, giving doesn’t equal money – give blood, give your time, take your unused coats to a homeless shelter. Volunteer somewhere with the whole family.
Giving is good for your soul. It forces you to take a step back and be grateful for your own fortunes.
How much are you working? Are you volunteering? When do you need to ask Grandma to watch the kids so you can shop? Can you shop online?
Sit down and write it out. Unless you love fighting the last-minute Christmas Eve crowds, make a plan, stick to it, and when you’re done, you’re done.
Do you need someone to help you with Christmas Eve dinner? Ask for it! Or is Christmas Eve dinner just too much? – Skip it! Order pizza, hang with the kids and get ready for Santa. It’s fine. No one but Instagram cares about your Christmas tablescape. Bust out the paper plates if you want, serve up some greasy pizza and call it good.
Plan a time when you can wrap presents. Unless you want to be up till 3 am wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve? Do you need help with shopping? Ask for it. You know when people say “let me know if there’s anything I can do to help”? Most of them mean it. Ask for it and let them help. If you’re flying solo and there’s no one to ask for help, make your plan manageable for just you.
And last, but certainly not least:
Enjoy Your Family and Friends
Take some time to actually enjoy these people you celebrate with.
They’re the reason you’re decorating like a madman, whipping up a Pinterest worthy dessert, or picking out the perfect gift.
Start December 1st. Ask each family member something they’d like to do this Christmas season as a family. Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Snuggle up and watch your favorite Christmas movie. Take something special to a neighbor who may be lonely. Manage a date night if you can. Invite friends over for a low key take-out night just to hang out. Find a beautiful church service to attend and just soak up all the music.
Start a new family tradition or make sure to keep up an old one. We usually host a dinner on Christmas Eve. Old friends, family and the kids. Everyone laughs and has a great time. It’s a nice end to all the craziness of the season. One year we didn’t eat until super late because our stupid turkey didn’t get done. I was close to tears. I thought it was a disaster. But you know what? No one cared. We laughed and snacked until it was finally ready.
Carve out some time to enjoy and be thankful. It’s a mad rush and often we forget why we’re actually celebrating. Don’t lose that.
It’s hard. I know. We want to do it all. And we think we should. But it’s not worth it if you’re feeling crazy stressed and like you’re not good enough. Try these anti-stress tips this season. Because you ARE good enough and whatever you do, whatever you spend, or don’t spend is enough.