10 tips for having a stress free holiday
How not to get overwhelmed during holidays
Our families and jobs have demands on us…school plays, band programs, choir programs, school parties, etc. Then you add in shopping, cleaning our houses, putting up the decorations, baking those all important holiday goodies, and entertaining…wow I’m overwhelmed just writing about it.
We have all read books on taking care of ourselves but if you are like me you think that the person who wrote these have no idea what your life is like. Well, I have read some of the latest and greatest coping mechanisms on how to get through this busy season and I can tell you some are pretty farfetched. But one of the most important things I read asked me to look at the holidays through the eyes of a child. Imagine when you were young and the excitement that you felt during this time of year. I wanted to share some of my thoughts on how to accomplish this.
1. Be realistic. Not everything has to be perfect. The memories we want our children to remember are the fun times, not that everything had to be perfect because relatives/friends were coming over. I remember when my parents were coming to visit I cleaned my house from top to bottom. I spent several days making sure everything was spotless and stressed out if things got out of place before they arrived. To tell you the truth my house was never really dirty…it was my issue not theirs. Now that I am older and wiser I would have done things differently.
2. Remember, things don’t have to be the same every year. If in the past few years you spent three days baking because this is “what your mother did,” or because everyone likes your cookies, it’s time to make a change. Think about what cookies people like the most and focus on only one of two different kinds. This is easier than making 10 different batches, and spending days in the kitchen. I was never a baker but I did try every year to bake sugar cookies. This was a fun time for me and my boys. I remember rolling out the dough and them cutting out shapes to put on the cookie sheet. I got smart later and bought store bought dough and icing. We still had as much fun making our cookies as we did making them by scratch.
3. Then there’s holiday shopping. If the thought of fighting traffic and standing in long lines stress you out, remember that the longer you put this off the worse the situation is going to get in the stores. Try to shop early next year, if you can, and maybe go late at night or early in the morning. Most stores have extended hours, but please be careful if you are going out by yourself. Also for next year, some stores now have layaway so even if you can’t afford to purchase all the gifts, you can put them on layaway and get them out closer to Christmas Day. I would put the kids to bed; kiss my husband good bye and head to the store with my good friend. We had so much fun out late at night by ourselves and didn’t have to fight the weekend shopping rush.
4. Please enjoy the season. When you are working at home, play a holiday CD and sing along with it. I remember as a young child my mom playing “I saw mama kissing Santa Clause” and her singing along with it. To this day if I hear this song those childhood memories come flooding back.
5. Decorating our homes can also cause us added stress. Think about what is important to the family, what has always been the family tradition and pick one day and get it done. I always tried to make this a fun time for my family when my boys were young and I hope they have good memories of us putting up the tree. Our tree was never perfect, but it was decorated with love each year.
6. One of the most important things to remember is to take some time for you. We are generally so rushed during the month of December we tend to forget about ourselves and spend all our time and energy focusing on everyone else. One of my favorite things to do during this time of year is to read a Christmas romance novel. These generally are less than 100 pages long and are just “feel good” books. I love to grab a blanket, my book, and a hot cup of coco and lose myself for a few hours. I love a good Christmas romance novel. Just makes me feel good.
7. Now, all that grocery shopping. I am not one who generally makes a list, but this time a year I try to do this. I hate to forget something and have to go back. This takes some planning and thinking ahead. Again, most stores have extended hours and this may be a good time to hit the grocery stores. Preparing for our holiday dinners has always been a stressful time for me. I don’t like to grocery shop, and I get disturbed at the prices of some items. I am a very frugal person so I don’t mind buying the store brand. Most of the times these products work well and nine times out of 10 no one know’s the difference.
8. Now what about holiday cards? This is one area that I am not very good at. I love to get cards from family and friends, but generally find myself writing my cards and not mailing them, or putting it off to the last minute and then it’s too late to get them in the mail. My sisters all write Christmas letters. I generally can’t remember what I did yesterday let alone for the past year. One suggestion that I read is to purchase the cards as soon as they show up in the stores…for me this would be when I need to purchase stamps too. Start by attaching your return address sticker to the cards, and place stamps on them. Now when you have a few minutes address and sign a few cards at a time. You might not want to seal the cards until later. This way you can go back and jot a note if you want to. If you run out of time you just seal the cards and get them in the mail.
9. Now for the hard stuff. Don’t let the holidays become an excuse for you to overeat. I know that when I overdo it I tend to be unhappy with myself, and find that this habit only adds to my stress. Try to remember to get plenty of exercise and drink plenty of water. If you know you are going to a holiday party, try to eat a healthy snack before you arrive, this way you won’t overeat after you get to the party.
10. My final suggestion is to just have fun. Remember our kids are only young once and the memories we are making today will stay with them always. Please take time and enjoy your family and the holiday activities. Don’t let the outside demands take away your holiday spirit. Readjusting our thinking and taking time for ourselves and families can help you have a less stressful holiday season.
About the author
Allyn Cary is the manager of Social Work. The social worker’s focus is on the family. They work with doctors, nurses and other hospital staff to make sure the patient's and family’s needs and concerns are addressed so that the child’s ongoing health care needs are met. Social Workers have specialized training to assist families in times of physical, emotional, and financial stress. They are well informed about available resources in the community so they can support families in need.