Staying Sane During the Holidays: 5 Easy Tips

The holidays are a time of year full of magic and wonder, largely created through the behind-the-scenes efforts of over-extended moms.

holidaysWhile I think most moms agree that bringing joy to our families during the holidays is rewarding and worthwhile, I personally know too well the toll that stressing out over the perfect holiday season can take. My daughter’s birthday is wedged between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, making my end-of-year chaos even more intense.

Last year, I got so carried away and overwhelmed that by the end of my daughter’s birthday party I was crying in a locked bedroom, abandoning my guests, and having a complete emotional breakdown.

holidaysI decided there has to be a better way, a point of balance for a festive season that allows mom to also enjoy herself, be present, and feel joyous with the rest of the family during the holidays.

I took a hard look at my holiday season behaviors and hashed out a plan to stay sane this year:

Sane Holidays Tip#1: Stick to a plan
Part of what causes the stress is getting carried away and thinking you have to jump at every festive opportunity. Kids won’t know what they don’t do and they definitely don’t have to do it all. Stick to events that you have time to prepare for. Don’t feel like you have to take on everything. The same goes for hosting events, buying gifts, and spending money. You can save yourself a lot of headaches by creating a shopping list and sticking to it, adhering to a holiday budget, and saying no when you feel overwhelmed. Going into the season with a general plan will help you feel more in control and less chaotic. 

Sane Holidays Tip #2: Be honest with yourself. What do you actually care about? Figure it out candidly {include your partner} and prioritize those aspects of the holidays. Are you decorating the whole house and yard with lights because it makes you happy or do you actually despise the process but feel pressured by neighbors? Do you want your child to get an insane pile of gifts or do you feel more like getting a few small meaningful presents is good enough? Either way is fine, just make sure you are doing it because that’s honestly what you want. If your actions are aligned with your values and priorities, life becomes a lot less stressful because you’re doing things for the right reasons. 

Sane Holidays Tip #3: Turn it off. Don’t let the planning and executing of the holidays consume you. If you are shopping, cooking, decorating then get after it mama, but once you complete the task it’s time to stop. Take days {or at least hours} off from doing anything holiday-planning-related. Get a pedicure, watch your favorite show, go for a walk, and don’t even think about your to-do list for a little while. This will go a long way in helping maintain your sanity as the season gets into full swing. 

Sane Holidays Tip #4: Set limits. Be blunt about how much you can handle. If you’re the mom who can bake and decorate 30 sugar cookies from scratch with holiday-themed homemade frosting, individually wrapped for the class party that’s great, but if not, I promise the kids at school would love a Little Debbie Christmas Tree snack cake too. Don’t set yourself up to be awake at 2 AM with the oven going full blast, flour everywhere, and tears spilling into the frosting.

It’s ok to “holiday” at any level that works for you. Don’t overspend, don’t over-commit, don’t operate out of guilt, and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

I also want to mention here that it’s truly ok to be clear with others about your limits. For example, instead of spending a crazy day driving to two family dinners and stuffing yourself with double the Christmas ham, it’s totally appropriate to let your in-laws know that you will see them for Thanksgiving dinner but will spend Christmas with your parents. Let them know they are welcome to come to your place in the morning while the kids open presents but that two family events in one day is just too much. You have to communicate your limits, don’t assume others know you have too much on your plate. 

Sane Holidays Tip #5: Ask for help. I can’t stress this one enough. Seriously, use the target curbside pickup, get take-out dinner the night before Thanksgiving, send your kids to daycare or grandma’s, and use that time to get something done {or to decompress}. Don’t be afraid to have your husband help with the shopping, let your partner wrap presents {even if they don’t execute the perfect fold and have terrible bow placement}, or have your sister pick up groceries for you when she is running to the store. “It takes a village” is never more fitting than during the busy holiday season. You are still making the season magical even if people are helping you. You don’t have to do it alone.

If you are the Martha Stewart type of mom, you are probably already killing the holidays. Go you! I’m here for it and cheering you on. But if you read this article and already feel a little guilty about the advice I’m giving here then go watch A Bad Moms Christmas, read this again, and snap out of it. 

You deserve to have happy holidays too!


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Hi, I'm Lexis, a soul-searching mama and wife running on caffeine and restlessness. I'm raising a wild toddler while working full-time for a land conservancy in Central Michigan. I'm at peace in nature and spend a lot of time hiking and exploring, curating adventures, and visiting new places with my family. True crime documentaries, live music, and gripping novels are my preferred forms of entertainment. A student of the human experience, I'm constantly working to master my mental, spiritual and physical health. Empowering other women fuels me so I share my life as authentically as possible over on my Instagram, @lexis_hansen. I'm grateful to Mid-Michigan Moms for the opportunity to share the humbling and beautiful journey of motherhood with you all!