Holiday Stress Relief

The countdown is in full swing. Kids are amped for their winter break. Your parents, in-laws, siblings – they are all in-bound as we speak. You still have to get the house ready, wrap stuff, bake all the things, and take care of the regular to-dos. Yay for the holidays….

Right?

First of all, remember one thing – you are a part of the holidays as an equal member of the family. Under no circumstances should you be stuck with taking on all the responsibilities. Are you laughing right now? I get it. I’m the same way. A lot of us are natural handlers. We see what needs to get done and we do it. But I’m telling you – take on too much, add holiday stress, and boom – recipe for disaster.

Here are 3 tips that will lift at least a little of your holiday stress so you too can sit back with some adult egg nog and actually enjoy the holidays.

  1. Despite what Pinterest and all the Magnolia, Martha Stewart, and others make us believe – The entire house does NOT need to look like Restoration Hardware exploded in it. The “Happy Holidays” banner you’ve been using every year for the past decade is great. The tree skirt no one will notice? It’s okay too. So are your “mismatched” stockings. The whole point of everyone getting together in the first place is to, well, be together. Something far more memorable (and important) are the kids witnessing what they’ll be doing when they are the adult hosting their families. Do you want them to feel the same stress you feel? Or would you rather have them understand that the priority is to spend time together? Bake together, craft together, listen to rambling stories from relatives together. That’s the stuff of memories.
  2. A few task cards go a long way. Sometimes it’s hard to ask others to help us. I know I’m guilty of this one. My kids could be helping with dishes or laundry, but I always end up doing it all myself. I’ve convinced myself it’s faster and easier just to do it rather than have to police the kids and nag them to do it and then go re-do it when they’re done because it’s not the way I do it…. Ugh. Instead! Take ten or so index cards, or just scratch paper, and write out some basic things that need to be done. Things like toys out of the living room, walk the dog, set the table… Instead of you having to “nag” the kids to help out, direct them to each blindly pull a task card from the stack. The stack needs to be completed before they can have their tablets or the TV remote back. Having the chores chosen blindly removes the whining of who does what. Ideally, rewards do not need to be handed out, but incentives are helpful if you’re desperate.
  3. Complete your 2-2-2 lists. Everyone in the house needs to write down their goals/expectations for the day. The catch is they only get to choose 2 personal things (tablet time, toys, wine…), 2 family things (walk the dog together, bake together…), and 2 helpful things (put laundry away, sweep, pick up dog poop in the yard…). Once their 2-2-2 list is complete, they can have free time. This list can be done in whatever order works for everyone. But ideally, it helps get at least four things done that you no longer need to be responsible for. If each member of the family does this, that’s even more off your plate and you don’t need to hover. You can just remind them to handle their list.

I hope these were helpful. Unlike many members in my family, I live in the real world. I have real expectations. And I will really freak out if I get overwhelmed. Try to focus on the things that actually need to happen, communicate when you are getting overwhelmed, take intermittent brain brakes by going outside or to the bedroom to have a few minutes of quiet. You can’t manage everyone if you are unable to manage yourself. You matter. Period. Make yourself a priority. If your kids see you making space for yourself, they’ll learn they should do the same and will be stronger adults because of it.

I wish you the happiest of holidays. Cherish these times with loved ones. Cherish the moments you have with your kiddos. Take candid pictures, give hugs, say thank you, and remember yourself this holiday season.

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