One December several years ago, my husband casually observed, “You don’t like Christmas very much, do you?” I was heartbroken. I love the holidays, but I realized that I had lost my enthusiasm by trying to do too much – stress had taken all of the fun out of it. I certainly didn’t want to ruin it for my family, too. That was the year I started making an effort to prune my “holiday overachiever” mentality, relax and enjoy the season. Easier said than done, I know. Still, I’ve managed to convince my husband that I’m really not a Grinch. You can simplify and reduce stress in two easy steps:
1. Prioritize activities and events.
Gather the family together and get out your calendar. Decide which events are on your “must do” list: visits with family, religious observations, and school activities such as holiday recitals and concerts may be most important to you. Then, look at the rest of your options. If you discover, as we did, that you are invited to holiday parties three nights in a row, you may want to rethink your plans. Ask your kids which events are really important to them. You may be surprised to discover that rituals we take for granted, such as visiting Santa, may not matter to them, particularly as they get older. This will free up some time for some much-needed R & R.
2. Simplify your “to-do” list.
- I’ve really pared down my holiday baking. Try one of the “One Dough Makes Ten Cookies” recipes or organize a with your friends. Keep it simple by sticking to your strengths. I finally gave up on making candy from scratch – I’m just not good at anything that requires a thermometer. Instead, we make peppermint bark by melting chocolate in the microwave, spreading it on a cookie sheet and sprinkling it with chopped up candy canes. My kids absolutely love smashing the candy canes and have been demanding to know when we are making peppermint bark!
- I’ve also simplified my shopping – we live in a remote mountain location – so what I can’t buy locally I buy online and ship directly to long-distance family. No more all-day trips to the outlet mall.
- I also don’t send hand-made cards anymore. I like Smilebox for making a nice slide show e-card that can easily be emailed or shared on social media.
I know how strong the temptation is to make everything “perfect” for your family, but is it really worth it if you’re trying too hard and losing your holiday spirit? As working moms, we have enough on our plates already. Relax and enjoy yourself and your family will, too.