Editor’s Note: this article was originally written pre-Covid in 2019, but the main points still stand true.
Moms, listen up – it’s time to take back the holidays. Family Time also means Mom Time and while I know we’re all super busy making lists, running errands, and hatching plans to make this year THE BEST YEAR EVER, we must take a moment and a big step back. Let’s zoom our perspective lens out of the Christmas tree forest and actually look at the Frasier Fir in front of us – ourselves! Christmas and the winter holidays are a hectic time, but I’ve outlined a few of my favorite holiday stress busters for moms right here.
How to Better Manage Christmas Stress
Share Your To-Do List
I’m a list person to the max – if it’s not on my list, it doesn’t get done. I have a couple of different tools to help me manage my lists, mainly an app called Clear, the all-knowing Google Calendar, and the Trello app. Do you know what’s so great about Trello? It’s free and gives you the capability to share your list and track project progress. So crowdsource the children’s Nativity pagaent you somehow found yourself in charge of this year, as well as share the responsibility of the class holiday party at school with other parents. You can also zip a grocery list over to your SO – it’s multi-faceted! I sincerely think there’s a real market for “Mom Wives” in this town but those can be pricey. Finding the right organizing tool for you can go a long way in the meantime.
There’s really no need to shoulder all the To-Do items all by yourself, and doing so can cause a tremendous amount of stress.- Plus, if I’m being honest, no one likes a Mommy Martyr. Delegating is all the rage – smart moms everywhere are doing it!
Be Realistic About December
Just a few days ago I sat down to lay out our December calendar and was amazed at how quickly the nights and weekends filled up. Between social gatherings, family parties, my Christmas baby’s birthday, and all the fun seasonal events happening around town there was barely a free moment. I immediately zeroed in on the few that were left and scheduled in “Breather Nights”.
Identify those nights on your family’s calendar and then – this is the hard part – don’t schedule anything on those dates. You’re going to need it to gather your wits, take care of the inevitable glittery loose ends that occur during the holidays, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to indulge in the next tip…
Take a Break From Peopling
Even the most social of extraverts need some down time. Personally, I re-energize myself by connecting with other people, but being “on” for weeks at a time wears me out. The holiday stress season definitely drains both introverts and extraverts with all of the merriment. I have to remind myself that as much fun it is to don a festive frock and unleash my Christmas party animal, I need some time to be quiet and not talk for a minute, preferably with a good book in a hot bubble bath.
Let Go of Dying Traditions
This one is difficult, but can cut down on unnecessary stress. I have had trouble with this very thing during the holidays since my grandparents died, and that was over 10 years ago. When years of Christmas and Thanksgiving centers around a loved one that is no longer with you (whatever the reason) it can be exhausting trying to re-create that same magic after they are gone.
Honestly, there’s no one way to overcome this particular stressful situation – everyone handles loss differently. I’ve found comfort in creating completely new traditions with my kids – like heading to a Thai, Chinese, or Indian restaurant on Christmas Eve, a la’ A Christmas Story. This is SUCH a departure from our past Christmas Eve tradition, but it already sticks out as a wonderful memory for my kids. All it took was for me to let go.
Get Sleep & Limit the Libations
Don’t take my word for it – the APA recommends more sleep to alleviate stress. You’re going to need even more during the holidays when you add more events to attend, cookies to bake, presents to wrap, and errands to run. Just getting into bed 30 minutes earlier than normal can help. Don’t laugh at me – try to make it happen if you’re serious about managing stress.
And while it’s super tempting to partake in that second cup of spiked eggnog, or fourth glass of spiced wine, try to space it out. I have learned the hard way it takes me longer to bounce back and makes me feel worse than it used to. If your schedule is full of parties, think of ways you can limit your libations by alternating boozy drinks with two glasses of water, or bringing some hard seltzer to the party to share instead. The holidays are hard enough without feeling at the top of your game. Taking care of yourself will help you deal with stressful situations.
Show Your Gratitude Every Day
DID YOU KNOW? Science says expressing gratitude is good for your overall health. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep,” according to Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis. It can even counteract stress by combating depression!
Try to keep a gratitude section in your bullet journal, meditate or pray, or take a few minutes to practice some thankful yoga to unleash your calming endorphins. Make someone else’s day by leaving a particularly big tip for a server. Perform one of these 50 Acts of Gratitude to Others. Your stress level will thank you.
I hope some of these holiday stress busters for moms will come in handy and would love to hear what works for you! If I can’t have a Wife of my own, I know I can always lean on awesome RCM Readers to give good advice.
You Might Also Like…
Editor’s Note: This articles was originally published December 2016 and has been updated annually.
Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy boys, wife of one, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Managing Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and also manages to conduct freelance marketing and PR work.