This post is by KS contributing writer Pam Farley from Brown Thumb Mama.
We’re supposed to be joyful…we’re supposed to be festive. But the pressures of family, gloomy weather, and too many social events can turn the holidays into horrordays.
Don’t let this happen to you. Remember to give yourself GRACE and reduce your stress this holiday. Here’s how:
G is for Gratitude.
Reading blogs around the holidays can make you feel like everyone ELSE is perfect. Perfect decorations, perfect family pictures, perfect food… If you aren’t careful, you can spiral into a vortex of doubt, envy, or worse.
Instead of looking outward during this time, look inward and fill your heart with gratitude. Take a moment to deeply experience your senses. Breathe slowly and feel the ground under your feet and the sounds around you. Write down something good that happened today–even if it was that the kid who bagged your groceries didn’t smash the bread.
Gratitude allows you to see the wonder and awesomeness of being alive.
R is for a Realistic Schedule.
When Hubby and I were newlyweds, this was our Christmas routine: Christmas Eve dinner at his family’s ranch. Midnight Mass. After-Mass gathering at a friend’s house. Christmas morning breakfast with his family. Christmas day with my family. Christmas dinner with his extended family. Go home and collapse.
Needless to say, we’ve cut this schedule back now that we have kids. Can you imagine keeping a 6-year-old and an infant occupied during all those events?
It’s not easy to say “No,” especially to family–but our sanity is more important than dragging ourselves to 6+ events in a 24 hour period. It’s more fun to celebrate the weekend before and spend the entire day together, anyway.
A is for Ask for Help.
Do you beat yourself up to fulfill “family expectations” (see above) or overextend yourself to make memories for the kids? Do you think if one event falls through, or if the gifts aren’t wrapped perfectly, or your cookies burn, the entire holiday is ruined?
You are bullying yourself. Harsh words, I know–but many of us lose our minds at the holidays and end up yelling at Hubby, the kids, and mentally tearing ourselves down. Don’t do it!
Ask for help. If you have cloth gift bags, anyone can wrap presents. Grandma and Grandpa will be tickled that the kids wrapped their gift (even if it IS in a dinosaur gift bag).
Buy a pie instead of making one. Let Hubby make Dad’s Cheeseburger Helper from Better Than A Box for dinner.
Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Don’t overshadow fun Christmas memories by being stressed and exhausted! That’s not the image to imprint in your family’s mind.
C is for Care for Yourself.
Take care of yourself and not just everyone else. There’s a reason the flight attendants tell you to put your oxygen mask on before you put it on your kids! Us moms often put ourselves last, and we end up tired and burned out.
Make sure you look out for yourself during this busy time. You deserve to have a say in how your time is spent. Maybe you don’t have to attend your mother-in-law’s best friend’s holiday party. Send Hubby to the party with the kids, and spend an hour with a good book. A bit of self-care goes a long way.
Speaking of which–do you dream of the day you can afford a pedicure, massage, or yoga class? Or time to have coffee with a friend each month? Why not add those things to your Christmas list?
E is for Expectations.
Talk with your family openly and see what their “must have” expectations are for the holidays. I grew up making cookies with Grandma every Christmas, but our kids aren’t crazy about that. Instead, our family decorates the tree together while listening to Christmas music.
We have friends who go caroling every year, and others who go for a drive to see the decorated houses. Each family has a different requirement for what “makes” Christmas for them.
It’s OK to change your expectations, too. When our second child was born, we decided to do Christmas cards and family photos every other year. This helps our stress levels and our budget!
How do you give yourself GRACE during the holidays?