We call it “the most wonderful time of the year”, but anyone else feel like a big giant stress ball from November to New Years? As a mama, I typically have too, until 3 Christmases ago when I woke up completely lacking in anything resembling joy, and totally forcing my cheer. I felt empty and totally burnt out and it felt the worst. I freakin’ LOVE Christmas…what was “wrong” with me. I realized, among being in the phase of severe sleep deprivation with a slumber-averse baby, I had spent every single bit of the holiday season being a joy-maker for everyone else, and zero time actually enjoying any of it. Despite now having 4 kids, I’d been keeping up with everything I’d done in years prior. Something had to give…I needed my Xmas Mom-joy back. So, from that Christmas on, I started letting go of all of that unrealistic self-imposed expectation and pressure on myself, because call me crazy, but I think one of the greatest “gifts” we can give our babes is a mom enjoying holiday life alongside them. So last year I created an “undo list” for myself, which helped keep my intentions for the holidays in check, and led to feeling more content come Christmas morning (sorry kiddos…mamas need for holiday family photos didn’t make the cut …those are keepers 😉 …
1) Take the Short Cuts!
I no longer measure the quality of our holidays by keeping up with the standards of Christmas perfection. Simplifying my favourite holiday past time. I may be the only blogger in the universe right now who’s home isn’t decked out a la Martha, but I’m loving our less is more decor right now. Any baking we do is probably the pre-packaged store-bought bake-from-frozen variety because I’m just #notabaker and well, it’s just as delish as the homemade goodies. I cook when I feel like it (it’s actually a fabulous stress release for me, though), order pizza on repeat one week, and offer to bring the heat & serve appys to holiday gatherings over whipping up the homemade variety when time is not on my side.
I’ve said buh-bye to perfectly matched tags to paper & ribbons not because I don’t love the look of it, I just simply no longer have the patience and honor that. Until my DIY & Christmas crafting desires return (if ever) – gift bags & tissue…j’adore!
A few years ago, I bypassed my usual Christmas card mail-out and sent digital greetings. Some people got offended, but I honestly just didn’t have the time to self-address 100+ envelopes, gave myself grace & was happier for it.
Grocery delivery, online shopping, cleaning services and outsourcing any other tasks that make me miserable will be golden. I may pay a service fee, and some may think not spending hours running around being a “lazy mom”, but I’ve never been more aware of how precious MY time is, and preserving it priceless and worth every penny.
2) Un-stuff the Calendar
I’m not going to sugar-coat it, our family calendar is pretty dang full right now. But where I can create some space, I certainly do. No more RSVPs to things out of obligation, but rather things that add value to our life or relationships. If the bells in my instincts aren’t dinging “go go go”, it’s a thanks but no thanks over here. Last year we did a family round table and each of us shared the 1 thing we really love doing over the holidays and made that a priority. Everything else was a maybe. This year I’m setting even more boundaries on our time to make space for things that bring a lot of meaning – like date nights (miss you babe!), giving back in our community (because doing good just feels really good), time for rejuvenation/self care (because without it I’m good to no one), and more time for spontaneous activities (they’re always our favourite!). I no longer let FOMO guide our decisions or the work I take on because saying ‘yes’ to the shoulds or projects that undermine my time & worth means saying “no” to what’s most important to us. Being busy doesn’t mean being fulfilled…scheduling in things that bring meaning will.
3) Shorten up the Shopping & Gifting with Purpose
I bypass the shop til’ I drop holiday phenomenon and avoid crowds like the plague. I don’t love shopping (I know…what kind of woman am I?), always feel like I’m Xmas spending from October til’ Christmas Eve, and end up over-spending and zapped. Going to try shop early (in part forced by a city postal strike this year!) and to do one online shopping crunch. Also focusing on giving gifts with more meaning (ie. Those that give back or experience gifts to create memories) …it makes my spirit & ticking the checklist way more cheery. Hubs is also a lot more involved in all the holiday run around and I’ve learned it’s okay to delegate some of the holiday mama mental load to him now. In fact, he’s happy to do it and appreciates that I value his contribution…what was I waiting for?!
You’ve heard me declare this many times before on our platform, but I definitely think more moms need to hear it, especially this time of year when all the messages we receive imply we need to step up our mom game even more and switch to holiday hustle til’ it hurts mode – if moms are the heart of the family, what’s good for mom is good for everyone. It took 8 years of parenting to realize it, but I no longer see my sole purpose at Christmas as everyone else’s magic maker. My joy and contentment have to count for something in addition to bringing it to others. It’s okay to say “no” to things that sabotage your ability to feel some Christmas cheer. And I’ll bet the ones who love you most will be happier for it too. I’d be lying if I said I’m not feeling a tad overwhelmed right now…I love everything about this season, want to soak it in and not be a complete Christmas slacker, so managing our brood while we venture out and do so isn’t without some shlep & stress. I’m just better at not letting it completely consume me now.
A yoga/meditation master I had the pleasure of being taught by at a recent Mompreneur event in the city said something that really resonated – we’re in a time of year where the pressure to be on & give all of ourselves is at its peak, yet it’s completely unnatural when everything else in nature is hibernating. When you find yourself saying “I have to…” this season, ask yourself, “says who”? You don’t “have” to do any of it and being more in control of what you direct your energy to and focusing on the things that hold more meaning to you will probably bring more peace and joy to your life …the rest is excess and draining and don’t we all deserve a bit more Christmas calm?! I really hope that for you…you deserve it and your family will be better for it. In “undoing”, you’re being self-respecting, self-loving and that’s something to be merry about.
Stay tuned for an incredible GIVEAWAY on Friday…one of my favourite things to help tend to your mama spirit this time of year!
Tell me: have you made a crackdown on your Christmas expectations to feel more content this time of year? Share your “undo” list below…and have a wonderful holiday season mamas!
Love & light,
Joseph Tito says
What great ways to take the stress out of Christmas!