While the holiday season can be one of the most magical and enjoyable times of the year, it can also be one of the most stressful. Gift giving, shopping lists, errands, parties, pictures with Santa, festivals, traditions, and family gatherings often end up becoming a to-do list that is almost impossible to complete. A time that should be filled with laughter and memories becomes tainted with a stressed-out mom trying to make sure that she doesn’t forget the cookies for this party and the gift for that teacher, forcing the kids to smile for a perfect picture as the people in line behind them are becoming restless and just want them to move along, and getting frustrated at her kids when they keep interrupting her while she’s cooking an elaborate dish to bring to the holiday party that night. Moms, I want to give you permission to just say NO! Don’t give in to the busyness of the season and let it steal your joy. Fight against feeling like you have to do it all, and reclaim the magic of the season. Here are some things that I do to fight busyness and burnout during the holidays.
Practical Tips for Fighting Against Busyness and Burnout
1. Focus on Your Main Priority
For me, that’s being a wife and mom first. If saying yes to something means that my kids are going to see me less, or that I’m going to be spending time slaving over the stove when I could be spending quality time with my husband, or that it is just plain going to stress me out and make me grumpy, then my answer is going to be no. Yes, good commitments do require a sacrifice of time, and I don’t always say no to them. But if I feel like I’m already running at capacity, then I have to decline.
2. Know Your Limits
Some of my friends are extroverts and they thrive on being busy. I don’t operate that way. I need at least a few nights at home with my family every week to feel like I can breathe. As a family, we have decided that we will not have commitments outside of the home more than three nights a week. That means all six of us are eating dinner together the other four nights. So if we are invited to something that would cross that boundary, our answer is no.
3. Let Go of Perfection
I love Pinterest for many reasons. But I must say the one thing I dislike is that many moms feel that the cute projects and snacks you see on Pinterest are the required norm. Bringing plain juice boxes to the class party or sending in a bag of pretzels is now viewed as second rate to the chocolate dipped reindeer pretzels with M&M noses and the cute sayings on brightly patterned paper glued to the drinks. And forget sending the teacher a small gift of appreciation. Now it seems that gifts must come with a cute and ironic saying that the teacher will surely swoon over. Please hear me – if doing these things truly brings you joy, then by all means go for it! I myself am a crafty kind of person, and many times I enjoy projects like these. But if thinking of the perfect cute saying or decorating one more snowman cookie is going to drive you over the edge, then just say no! Send in those juice boxes and bags of pretzels proudly! Your child would much rather spend the afternoon coloring with a relaxed mom than be sent away countless times while you perfect the Santa hats on their snacks.
4. Give Yourself Permission to Say No
All of these tips are great, but if you feel guilty about saying no then they won’t help you. So go ahead right now and give yourself permission to say no. Declining an invitation or even a request for help does not make you a bad mom or a horrible person. In fact, it means you are a strong woman who is aware of her limits and isn’t afraid to protect herself and her family. These years with our kids are precious and we need to soak in as much time with them as we can.
As the holiday season approaches, I encourage you to think about what bring you joy during this time of the year. If decorating reindeer cookies is your jam, go for it. If spending quiet evenings at home really warms your heart, make that a priority. Figure out what works for your family, and say no to what does not. Win the fight against busyness and burnout and reclaim the magic of the holidays!