The holiday season is a magical cheerful time for kids, which in turn brings joy to parents. Sill, it often feels like a month-long endurance test of parents’, and particularly moms’, superpowers. I remember those days very well. Between shopping, wrapping, baking, holiday cards, parties, and countless other obligations and tasks, mere survival of the season was quite a feat. So why not make a pact to survive the holidays and reduce your stress this year, so you’ll be in a better frame of mind to truly enjoy the season with your family?
Early planning to survive the holidays
First, close your eyes and think back to the past couple years and how hectic and stressful it felt. What percentage of holiday activities and tasks would you need to eliminate to survive the holidays and make the season truly enjoyable and relatively stress-free? During this process, don’t think about what you can’t eliminate. Instead, determine the percentage of reduction you need to make for the month to feel more manageable.
Next, make a list of everything you need to do during the holiday season, to which parties you’ll be invited, and how much money you’ll spend. Now cross off the least important, least necessary, and least desirable events and tasks. Then review the list, and roughly calculate how much time and expense you’ve shaved off. If you haven’t reached your predetermined reduction, go through your list again.
Once you’ve decided which parties you’ll attend and commitments you’ll make, plan specifically how you’ll say ‘no’ to all the others so you’re not caught off guard.
Survive the holidays by sharing in the holiday preparation
Ask for help. Enlist your family in preparing for the holidays, and divvy up tasks. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or your family. Remember, you probably don’t notice or mind the imperfections in others’ holiday gatherings. So they’re just as unlikely to notice any in yours.
Keep in mind also, the holiday season isn’t the time to be head cook, especially if your children are young. Plan potluck gatherings. Then either suggest what each person should bring, or, to avoid duplicates, ask your guests what they’ll bring.
Holiday time-and-energy savers
Save time in gift-wrapping by setting up a station in a spare room or the basement. Or stock a box or basket with wrapping paper, ribbon, bows, tags, tape, scissors, and pens so everything is stored in one place. Also, have extras of everything on hand.
Keep cleaning to a minimum to help survive the holidays. Dismiss unused areas guests won’t see or use, and clean only the obvious in rooms that will be seen. That barely-visible layer of dust on your baseboards isn’t likely to be noticed with all the socializing and holiday decorations.
Quick and simple everyday meals is another place to save time through the month. Soups, sandwiches, fresh fruit and vegetables, cottage cheese, pre-cut vegetables and dip, and other prepared or semi-prepared healthy foods will suffice for one month of the year.
Do your holiday shopping early in the day and on weekdays while your energy is high and crowds are small.
Make the most of online or catalog shopping. If an item lacks details, search for a manufacturer’s website to get the information you need.
Give gift certificates. Hard-to-shop-for recipients will appreciate something practical. Certificates to restaurants, department stores, sporting goods outlets, events venues, specialty shops, or for special services such as a massage, pedicure, or a round of golf make great gifts.
Don’t overdo the baking. Your guests will likely have had their fill of holiday treats long before your gathering arrives. Find other ways to show family, friends, or neighbors you care by visiting or phoning them to wish them a happy holiday season. The bonus, your kids won’t be overdosing on all the sugar.
Holiday money saver
Does your gift list grow each year? Decide who it’s necessary or important to exchange gifts with. Then talk to extended family, friends, coworkers, and others about forgoing the gift exchange, putting a cap on the price, or doing a drawing instead. You’ll likely learn they feel the same as you do.
Consider your children
Don’t take children shopping during the holidays. Ask your partner or an older child to babysit; trade sitting with a neighbor or friend; or hire a babysitter. Not only will this reduce yours and your child’s stress, it’ll likely cut your shopping time in half.
Allow your kids to spend the day they open their gifts at home. It’s hardly fair and often stressful for children to leave their gifts behind after counting down the days to open them. In turn, this causes stress for you. Plan family get-togethers either on Christmas Eve or on the weekends before or after the holiday. If there’s no way around it, have an early celebration with your kids the day or weekend before, and let them open a couple fun gifts they can play with right away.
Traveling and holiday visiting is also stressful for young children because of changes in routine and unfamiliar faces. Have your child help with packing before you leave, even if you’ll only be gone for the day, to make sure they have their favorite toys with them. A security blanket or stuffed animal will also reduce stress for your young child in strange surroundings. Finally, leave yourself plenty of time for rest stops.
Caring for yourself
Enjoy holiday treats in moderation. High fat and sugary foods and the lack of healthy meals lead to tiredness and stress. Keep goodies stored in the freezer where they’ll be less of a temptation. Then have plenty of convenient, healthy snacks such as raw vegetables and nuts on hand. Also, prepare low-fat meals that won’t bog you down.
Pace yourself, and don’t try to do everything in one day.
Finally, give yourself a break. Get plenty of exercise such as a brisk walk in the fresh air, and set aside time for relaxation as well, like a long bubble bath.
Things you can do to survive the holidays next year
Start your shopping early. Create a new tradition with a friend or family member, and set a monthly shopping date for the upcoming year. By making a scheduled commitment, you’ll be more likely to follow through. Keep the early holiday shopping fun, and choose a different town or shopping center for each trip focusing on unique malls or trendy towns.
Also, purchase a label printing software program early in the year and enter all of the addresses on your holiday card list. When the holidays roll around, you can print the labels and eliminate the most time-consuming aspect of sending out holiday greetings.
Finally, remember the holiday season should be a joyful time for everyone to join in cheer and good fun with family and friends. Look for ways to ease stress to keep the ‘happy’ in your holidays!
by Kimberly Blaker
Post date: November 30, 2017
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