Happy Holidays or Holiday Heachache?

The holidays can be a huge headache for a lot of people.

It is a shame if we don’t get to enjoy the spirit of the season because we are so stressed out. I wanted to share some steps to having a saner, more relaxed Christmas/holiday season.

6 steps to a saner Christmas - http://TheStressedMom.com

First of all, we are going to talk about some things to limit to restore some sanity.

3 things to limit

1. decorations and cooking– It is up to you to decide how much decorations to put up. Tree or no tree? Outdoor lights? Christmas-y stuff on every open surface?  If you LOVE to decorate for the holidays, then go for it, but if you just do it because you have the decorations and you’ve always done it, then determine if it truly brings you joy.

As far as cooking goes, again this is going to have personal choices in it. If you LOVE to cook and it is a big part of the holiday fun for you, then go for it. It you like to bake lots of goodies, then do so. Just don’t do things mindlessly. Make the choice of what you want to cook. As for our family, I am not much of a cook. We do Christmas eve at our house and I am looking at instituting a non-Christmas type meal for this event. I can make a mean chicken casserole! We do get to have turkey and dressing, etc at our extended family event on the day after Christmas!

Also READ: 10 easy meals for busy nights

2. shopping and gifts – You truly need to consider that you have a choice in how much or how little you spend or exchange gifts. If your children are young, start now to set the expectation that Christmas is about family and giving of ourselves to others, and the birth of Christ (if this is your belief). Don’t let them believe that Santa has an unlimited budget to bring whatever they want.

You may have to have difficult conversations with family members and it may be to late to do so for this Christmas, but consider broaching the subject while everyone is in a merry mood this year. Explain your reasons for wanting to cut back gifts, whether it is monetary, consumption, minimalism, or just plain simplicity. Come up with an acceptable plan:exchange names, give only gifts of food, only buy for children and then only a small gift.

Once you reduce the gifts to be purchased, you can reduce your need for shopping. Again, if you love to shop then go for it. If you happen  to be like me and despise going to the mall or Walmart, then consider some other ways you can purchase.

Obviously you can shop online. Another thing I would suggest is buying from smaller businesses rather than the big-box stores. And if you can purchase from locally owned small businesses, even better! Studies show that 45% of your purchase stays in the community if you buy from a local business vs 15% if spent at a big box company. And, you can always make gifts, whether you are crafty and make some really cool stuff, or you like to cook and can bake up some goodies. My friend Cris has a collection of recipes on her site:

Christmas-Cookies-copy

3. obligations  –This is a big one. This is what keeps people running around crazy and families out late. And this is one you can make a big impact on.

Think of your family goals. Do you want to be involved in their schools? Then volunteer and go to their parties. Do you want your children to give back? Then make cookies and take them to homeless shelters. Do you want to increase the culture in their lives? Go see a Christmas play or Handel’s Messiah.

Once you know your priorities, then make decisions on all the opportunities that are available to you. You CAN say NO!

Take inventory, and consider what you might need to reduce in your busy holiday life.

Secondly, what I want to talk about  are the important things that you do want to make sure you have in your life, to achieve more peace and balance during the holiday season, and into the new year!

3 things to make sure to do

1. eat, drink (water) and be merry sleep! So, the holidays tend to be a time of overeating and not enough sleep. You must make healthier eating, drinking water, and rest a priority for yourself, and for those in your family who you have influence over.

I am not saying you cannot have lots of yummy goodies during this time! I am saying to be sure and balance it out with healthier eating the rest of the time. Want to have some of the Christmas cookies brought into the office? Enjoy two cookies, but don’t turn around and eat a Big Mac for lunch! Have a salad with grilled chicken. Balance out your food choices. Will it weigh out perfectly? No, but you will feel better for it.

chocolate roll cake

Drinking water should be a priority at all times. Most Americans are mildly dehydrated on a regular basis. Many times the fatigue and foggy headedness are just because you haven’t drank enough water. Maybe you don’t need another cup of coffee, maybe you need a big glass of water!  

Drinking water will benefit many things during this busy season.  Wards off the fatigue. Helps you feel full to keep you from overeating on Christmas goodies. Will help keep your system regulated and ward off constipation. And it is good for your skin!

Also READ: 10 ways to naturally boost your energy

Sleep, ahh, glorious sleep! This is one that many can never seem to find the time to get enough of!

I know that you have priorities and children and housework,etc, but you HAVE to make the CHOICE that sleep will take a priority. Talk with those closest to you and explain that you want to get in bed an hour earlier and ask for their help. My oldest daughter has 6 children, ages 2-10. Her kids have a 7:30 bedtime, even the 10 year old. This gives her some time to get some things done in peace and quiet, time to unwind with her husband,and the chance to get in bed by 10 pm or so.

It is difficult to catch up on missed sleep, but try your best to fit in some rest times, or take a quick nap if needed.

2. do the things you enjoy and your family enjoysThis goes back to looking at the family traditions you have  in your house. What things do you or your kids look forward to? Going to a tree farm? Cutting down a tree? Decorating it together while playing Christmas music? Or, is that part not such a major deal to your family? As our kids have gotten older, we don’t cut a tree anymore, my hubby and I make the decision which tree to get (much easier than 3 or 4 kids opinions!) and then my youngest daughter decorates, and sometimes I help.

It is okay for traditions to change if they don’t serve you and your family anymore. Our extended family has, for years, always met on Christmas Day at 2 pm. As the children had children, it became increasingly more stressful to get all the little family units together on Christmas Day, so we moved it to the day after Christmas for now. It will depend on the day it falls on each year.

Examine your traditions and see which ones bring you joy, and eliminate that are just being done out of habit!

3. give of ourselvesIt is important for me and my husband to give to those who are less fortunate. We have been blessed beyond measure and so many have nothing. We started attending a church early this year that does some awesome things for the community. One of those things that we got to participate in was Shop with a Hero.  At-risk kids are partnered with police, fire or military personnel (male as that is usually one thing missing in these kids lives) as well as a Mom-type personal shopping assistant. This was held at the local Walmart, with a huge heated tent with goodies and storytelling and singing and face-painting, and more! The officer was given a $100 gift card to shop with the child, helping them to pick out gifts for family members or even things for themselves. We had wrappers who would then wrap the kids gifts while they enjoyed hot chocolate and goodies!  This was such an awesome time, to see these kids who come from broken homes having so much fun buying for their siblings and their mothers!

Shop with a Hero is just one of the ways we can give. Look in your community for ways to help. Ask your local church if they know of someone in need that you may be able to bless, even anonymously.  Find  a way to give to those less fortunate and it always helps you to put your life in perspective!

If you’d like to see more of what Shop with a Hero is like, a recap video of a few years ago:

Please share below some ways that you have been able to have a saner holiday season!