Welcome! Get the information you need to win at parenting without losing yourself.
November 27, 2018
Let me guess. Someone, somewhere in the last week or so has talked about how hectic the holiday season is. They talked about how much they had to get done, how many gifts they had to buy, and how much they had to accomplish. The whole, “Oh, the holidays are so stressful” mantra is just as much a part of our winter tradition in the United States as Santa and Frosty the Snowman, especially for moms.
We were up early on Thanksgiving day to catch a two-hour flight, take a three-and-a-half hour car ride to my in-law’s house and eat a lovely meal. Then, we turned around a day and a half later to do it all again. It’s one of many November or December trips we’ve taken with our young kids in the name of tradition and family. And, while I love, love, love my husband’s family and I want my children to be a part of the holiday hubbub, the trip planning (and the beaucoup bucks it cost to make it happen) made us take a second to look at our choices.
It also made us take a second look at the trade-offs and benefits of taking a whirlwind attitude toward these holiday months. It wasn’t long before we came to the conclusion that planning get-togethers for longer periods of time when we can really sink in and relax into vacations with our extended family, like during the summer months, would be way more feasible in the future.
Last year, I posted about my plan to divide and conquer during the holidays, putting my husband in charge of most of the gift buying and putting myself in charge of most of the planning for special events. It made a huge difference in our holiday experience, but this revelation about what we do with our time and what control we have over the parts of this season that makes things feel hectic? That type of mind shift is on a whole other level because it applies to everything else we do in our lives, too.
And here’s the bigger deal: when we’re moms and we say we’re hectic—at the holidays and throughout the rest of the year—we’re saying the same thing. We’re saying we choose a hectic, stress-filled life. Now, of course, some things are stressful just because they are. Sometimes a loved one is hurt or ill, sometimes we come across financial difficulties, or a challenging relationship makes life hard. I’m not talking about that kind of stress. I’m talking about hustle and bustle, too many things on my list, too many commitments and plans in way too short of time stress. Self-induced stress.
Nah, mamas. I think we’re better than those tired mantras and stories. I think our holidays should be better and our lives should be better.
Sometimes we have to just flat out say no. When it comes to our kids, our jobs, ourselves, we have to actively set boundaries. Believe me, if you keep on giving, others will keep on receiving. Sheryl Sanders was revolutionary when she talked about leaning in, but if we lean in too far to anything, we’re going to fall in, the victim of our own lack of perspective and mindfulness. That means, at some point, we have to decide what’s most important to us. We have to make decisions based on our priorities, not our obligations, or else other people (often times very unintentionally) are going to determine how our minutes and our days will be filled.
When my kids look back on their early childhoods, I hope with all my heart they remember the special moments we created decorating gingerbread men on our kitchen table and blaring Michael Bublé’s Christmas album in the car. I know they won’t remember the toys we put under the tree this year. I’m still going to buy them some, I’m just not going to go overboard in the purchasing department. I am going to go overboard in the “spend a bunch of cozy time together” department.
You can’t and shouldn’t do this holiday season alone. If you have a partner, no need to make it even stevens, but do divide and conquer your way through. No matter what your status, get other people involved so the responsibility doesn’t lie solely with you.
Sometimes I catch myself telling other people how busy I am this time of year because it seems like a breathless dash to the holiday finish line is the only way to look like I’m doing a good job. It turns out, though, that’s all for show. I really like going to my company party and picking out special ways to commemorate the year for the people I love. I enjoy getting Christmas cards out to friends and family. If you do, too, own it without acting like it’s a pain.
Instead of spending all week thinking about what you need to get done to make the holidays happen, take a chunk of time to make a plan. A half an hour should work just fine to jot down all the gifts you need to buy, the food you need to prep, and the activities you need to plan. Then, set aside another hour or two to, in one sitting, try to move through as much as possible on your list. (Hint: whenever possible, shop online and think about gifting experiences, like a gift card to a restaurant or toward a spa day, instead of stuff that has to ship). If you’re still not done once the timer goes off, plan another two-hour chunk in a few days. Compartmentalizing our to-dos reduces our mental load, allowing us to get more mindful throughout the day.
Yeah, sure, the holidays are hectic for most people but they do not have to be for you (or for me). Our kids learn the most about peace and joy during this season when we model it ourselves—when they see us complaining less about how the holidays are happening to us and enjoying more what the season has in store for us if we set some limits and choose a celebration mindset.
Want more information about how to parent and cope when you’re a new mom? Check out our book, The Newborn Baby Blueprint: Preparing to Care For Your Infant and Yourself.
Looking for baby registry or baby shower gifts? You’ll love our Newborn Gift Boxes (in Baby Boy, Baby Girl, and Gender Neutral). They’re full of information, inspiration, and a little love for all the mamas and mamas-to-be in your life (including you!).
Sign up to receive the Modern Mommy Doc Newsletter. You'll receive exclusive tips and updates that will help you become a well-equipped parent:
Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.