December used to be great fun for me! As a kid, and even a college student, I loved attending Christmas parties, scheming about the perfect gifts for friends and family, and enjoying loads of hot chocolate, Christmas movies, sledding, and snowball fights.
Sound like a dream come true? Well, this kind of December doesn't have to exist just in our dreams. Let's take back December from the stress monsters and turn it into the fun-filled month it's supposed to be.
I'll admit that as a Mom now, I feel a lot more pressure to “perform” for the holidays instead of just enjoying them. But you know what? That pressure is largely placed on me by…. ME! I refuse to succumb.
Here's to a stress-free December. You can do it!
- November. Seriously. Planning ahead is one of the best things you can do. For me, that means as soon as Halloween is over, with my son's chocolate-smeared face still snug in his bed, I start planning for Christmas! Good news for me? I love Christmas music so it's a great excuse to put on the music, and start planning our December schedule, gift and budget lists, and prioritizing what matters most. (Links to my favorite Christmas planning printables can be found at the end of this post!)
- Prioritize. Maybe you've had something on your list of December events simply because you thought you “had to” or that it was someone else's “favorite thing”. This year, prioritize what's really important to you and your family. Maybe you don't have to attend that extended family event that feels more like a burden than a joy. Maybe your kids aren't that into the Christmas pageant this year. Ask everyone in your family what their top 3 favorite December activities are, then prioritize from there.
- Compromise. If family is important to you, but you can't manage to see all 5 groups in one day, compromise! Come up with a different fun event where everyone can get together. Maybe you can meet for ice skating or sledding. Maybe you can meet your favorite cousin for coffee and Christmas shopping if the rest of the family isn't so keen on getting together.
- Remember what's most important. What values do you want to instill in your kids over the holidays? Do you want to teach them generosity? Then decide on a volunteer or giving project you can all do as a family. Is teaching from the Bible important to you? Then plan out a scripture reading schedule or a Christmas devotional book that you can build into your evening routine. By deciding now what matters most, you can make sure the holidays don't pass in a blur of surface-level activities – leaving you discouraged and disappointed.
- “No” can be Beautiful! How many times do you say yes to something due to guilt? You wind up kicking yourself later for not sticking to your guns. There are plenty of ways to say no in a way that's both kind and respectful to the person asking. Here are a few ideas from our book, Time Management Mama:
- I’m not the best person to help on this.
- Right now is not a good time for me.
- I’d love to do this but….
- Let me think about this and get back to you.
- “It’s just a “no” for today.
- “Your (thing) sounds so fun. I wish I could commit, but I can't. (This resource) may help you with (planning/telling others). Good luck.”
- Take a Break. If you're an introvert like me, you need some down-time in order to re-charge. Even if you're an extrovert, at a certain point your steam will run out. Schedule some down-time into your December. Maybe that means wrapping presents the week before Christmas while you watch your favorite movie. Maybe you can curl up with your favorite book and a cup of tea. Send the kids out to play in the snow with Dad while you enjoy a quiet house. Don't feel guilty for needing to re-charge. It will allow you to enjoy the fun that much more.
- Learn from Santa. I love making lists and checking them twice! Getting things down on paper is so freeing. It's no longer trapped inside the jumbled mess of my brain. On paper, I can manage it, re-arrange it, and cross off the things that don't matter as much. On paper, I can add things to the days that make sense and clearly see when a day is simply too full to carry any more. I like to make a gift list, a list of our top Holiday priorities, and a budget tracker. You can grab your own copies of these great Holiday Planning Sheets when you sign up below.
What's stressing you out this December? I'd love to hear about it in the comments so we can brainstorm ways to lower your stress this year!
~ Beth Anne
Prepping for the holidays? Head here next!