How To Have Less Stress And More Joy For The Holidays

Less sunlight, disruptions in the routine, increased anticipation. It’s the perfect storm for our kids to lose their ever-loving minds which means we’re not far behind. Thank you, mirror neurons. With some intentionality, we can have less stress and more joy during the holidays.

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Define Success

Get clear with yourself about what success will look like. For me, it’s managing my own sanity, not whether or not we had a Pinterest-perfect turkey or Christmas tree. If I get to January with some semblance of inner peace, it will be a win. That might mean I put off Christmas cards. Or RSVP “No” to the neighborhood cookie exchange to make time to read on the sofa with a cup of tea. For the past couple of years, success has also NOT been spending the entire holiday together as a family. This meant I felt the freedom to give my kids choices about what they participated in. No one wants to trek out to visit Great Aunt Bertha? No worries. I’m going by myself and it’s okay. As always, be sure to define success by something you can control.

Manage Expectations

Round up the family and have everyone narrate what they’re visualizing for the upcoming holiday season. Make a family holiday bucket list that includes at least one item from each person. Then focus on only those things. If decorating a Christmas tree isn’t on it, don’t do it. Also on expectations, remember that the holidays are hard and overwhelming for our kids. This is not the time to raise the bar and expect them to practice things like social engagement. If they want to hide under the table with a screen all day or eat and then disappear to their rooms, let them.

Think Outside The Box

If the old traditions stress you out, create new ones. No one in our nuclear family prefers turkey. Once the baton gets passed to me, we’ll probably have Chinese or Mexican. Where are you feeling the most stress about the holidays? What would you do differently if you weren’t boxed in by old traditions?

Keep Both Nurture and Structure High

For your kids who thrive on the structure of school, you’ll want to limit unstructured time at home. The key to increasing structure without getting more defiance is to increase nurture. So basically, you want to plan as much fun as possible. Keep in mind what will actually be fun for your child versus what is fun for everyone else but might overwhelm your child.

Stay Off Social Media

Put on your horse blinders. Pay no attention to the Instagram-perfect photos or fall into the trap of the “Shoulds.” If you need to feel better, ask me to see a photo of our boys’ room or the 10,000 chalkboard bags stacked my living room where a Christmas tree “should” be. You can also ask my kids about how many gifts we buy for them at Christmas. It’s ZERO.

You’re a good mom, doing good work!

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