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'Tis the Season...of Stress

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

Tis the season of all.the.things. Holiday parties for adults, work events, school parties for kids, gift exchanges, concerts, cookie making, traveling, planning for, buying, and wrapping gifts, planning holiday meals, visiting family and friends. Throw in illness and regular daily work and household responsibilities and it's a recipe for stressed out parents, especially moms.

Here are some tips to help you get through the next month:

1. Stop trying to do it all. Often parents feel pressure to make tons of special memories for their kids during the holidays. They feel they are doing their children a disservice if they didn't sign up for the Santa Train, didn't go ice skating as a family, didn't visit Santa, didn't go to the parade, etc. For example, after years of doing the Elf on the Shelf and cursing myself nightly at 10pm when I forgot to move him and had to get out of bed and deal with the mental load of where the heck to put the thing, I decided enough was enough and had him retire. See our elf's letter at the end of this post. You know what? My kids have survived, aren't emotionally scarred, and I have saved a bit of my sanity!

It's okay to pick one special thing you do a year and make memories around that. Maybe change it up every year so the kids have memories of each unique experience. The point is - don't drive yourself crazy (and bankrupt!) trying to create perfect memories.

2. Say no. Give yourself permission to say no to events and activities. Opt out of the secret Santa exchange, don't go to that holiday party you don't feel like going to, don't bake cookies if the thought of the mess makes your skin crawl. Ask yourself before agreeing to things: "Do I really want to do this or do I feel obligated to do it?" If the answer is the latter then you should probably save yourself some stress and decline. Putting your needs first isn't selfish - it's necessary to survive this busy season.

3. Don't spend more than you can afford. You have a family member or friend who goes overboard with gifts and you feel pressure to spend the same amount on them but can't afford it? Well then don't! Being stressed about how to afford gifts shouldn't be on your to-do list. It's better to give a small token or a handmade gift than going broke and having additional financial stress and worry. Think twice before you make that purchase. Will your January self agree the gift is necessary and worth it?

4. Delegate. Delegate. Delegate. Ask your partner or a family member or friend for help - perhaps assign certain duties to him or her. Wrapping, ordering certain gifts, helping to meal prep, etc. Have your tween neighbor help you wrap gifts or watch your kids so you can. If you can assign tasks then do it. And if you can't then definitely re-read #2!

5. Allow yourself space to grieve. Often the holidays are reminders of people or relationships we've lost. Give yourself time to process your grief. It's extremely difficult facing the holidays without a loved one and it's okay to be sad, angry and upset. For parents who have lost pregnancies or infants it can be especially difficult. Make sure you allow yourself to cry and you reach out to your supports - you don't have to carry your grief alone.

6. Take time for yourself. Make sure you maintain your exercise routine and eat well. Schedule a day off work so you can catch your breath. Schedule time after the holidays as your reward for getting through them. Connect with your friends, go for a long walk, do yoga - whatever re-energizes you and fills your cup be sure to prioritize that. It will help you feel your best and maintain balance during this hectic time of year.

Hopefully some of these tips will decrease a little of the stress you may be experiencing this month! Remember to set boundaries and limits for yourself and others so YOU can also enjoy the season!

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