Why is "the most wonderful time of year" turning into the most stressful, especially for moms?
I LOVE the holidays. It’s a special time of year that reminds the world of something mothers know all year long: our families are most important. It’s not about the chill in the air, the decorations adorning the house, or even the delicious and festive food (although my mom’s popovers and my grandmother’s squash souffle are amazing). It’s about spending time with those we call family and being grateful for all we have together.
But no matter how much I love this time of year or my family, mom life can get extra hectic around the holidays. A mom’s holiday to-do list is LONG. Decorations? Family photos? Christmas dinner? Gifts for all 20 family members? Kids’ cookie exchange? Yup, mom is in charge of that.
Now, add in the stress to make every day a picture perfect representation of the holiday season. It can be hard to think about anything other than just getting through the holidays in one piece! There leaves little room for anything else.
That’s why I’m sharing a few tried-and-true MOM HACKS that will guarantee a stress-free holiday season and a smooth transition into the new year (and beyond)!
Let go of mom guilt and perfection.
Any guilt you may be feeling about not being the “perfect” mom (whatever that means) is difficult to manage. But I’m here to tell you that it’s unwarranted. Breathe. Give yourself some grace. During the holidays, there is NO SUCH THING as perfection. The best you can do for yourself, spouse and kids is to be enjoying the extra time together, so let go of all that pressure you're putting on yourself.
When there’s a lot on your plate during the holiday season, you have to be intentional about your priorities. Really think about the things that you want to be doing and what will be best for you and your family. Perhaps it’s scheduling a family-only night or baking cookies together to take to your parties. Choose what fulfills you, do it with intention, and be present in those moments.
Rely on your mom friends.
Sometimes, all you need to get through a stressful time of year is to lean on your mom tribe. They are going through the same thing and can offer you help and advice when you need it most. Downloading SocialMama has been a great way for me to find friends and get advice from women all over the country! With so many amazing women out there offering support, it is amazing knowing you are not alone.
Eliminate what is not adding value.
Honestly, you cannot say yes to everything. It is simply not possible! Our normal day-to-day tends to involve extra stuff that isn’t needed for a fulfilling life. The holidays tend to add even more, often bogging us down and burying what’s really important. Take a close look at how you are spending your time and energy. Eliminate what is not adding value to you and your family during this season. And don’t be afraid to say no to a Christmas party, gift exchange, or family event. You can’t do it all and that is OK.
Take advantage of this great time to network.
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the amazing opportunities to build or rekindle lost connections. Parties are a great time to reconnect or start a conversation with the person you’ve always wanted to! Whether you are looking to transition to a new career, build a business, or are a stay-at-home mom returning to paid work, the holidays are a great opportunity to practice talking about the kind of work that you’re interested in. You will be at so many parties and social gatherings, while meeting new people along the way, that you’ll have many times to tell people about your interests and why you are passionate about pursuing them.
Take care of yourself.
Finally, there is nothing more important than you being healthy and happy to be the very best for your family. What is the gift you are giving yourself this year? Get creative and give yourself something that will relax and revitalize you throughout the upcoming year. Ask your spouse for a post-holiday day doing your favorite activity (whether it be a yoga retreat or day at the spa). And remember that your kids are watching! Showing them that you take care of yourself will teach them do the same for themselves in the future.
I hope this list takes away the stress of the holiday season and adds excitement to preparing for the most wonderful time of year! My encouragement to you as a fellow busy, working mom who loves the holidays is to HAVE FUN. Remember, the kids won’t remember those holiday photos, anyway.
About the Contributor:
Anna McKay has been a career transition and leadership development coach since 2008. She is the proud mama of two kind-hearted and strong willed girls! After years as an expat in China and the Philippines, Anna founded Parents Pivot to help stay-at-home-parents return to paid work and find careers they love. She offers online workshops, in-person training, return to work programs, and 1x1 & group coaching.
Anna is also a MentorMama on SocialMama.