This post is part of a series – “31 days to take the Stress out of Christmas”. You can read all the posts in the series here. And to make sure you don’t miss a post you can subscribe to have every post delivered to your inbox, or follow me on facebook.
Why does Christmas = stress? In an ideal world, it wouldn’t. We would have beautifully decorated Christmas trees and homes from our Pinterest boards that are company clean throughout the whole season, we could welcome guests or host a party without a second thought, and we would enjoy our evenings with the cards already mailed and presents under the tree with our family watching a classic Christmas movie or roasting chestnuts by an open fire. But seriously, life is never ideal or at least mine isn’t. We all live busy lives – from working, home responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping – then add to all of that extra curricular activities or sports for the kids, religious functions, time spent with friends, family outings, etc. Life is busy. Then December comes and none of the previous activities stop – we still work, still have to eat dinner, still have school for the kids but then you add on to that – decorating a Christmas tree, buying presents for everyone in your family + teachers, coworkers, etc, wrapping said presents, doing extra baking, maybe hosting a Christmas party at your home, attending multiple Christmas parties or programs, preparing a Christmas dinner… No wonder we are stressed!! I would say maybe it is just me but I know from many of you commenting on facebook that it causes you stress too. And then you add family dynamics to it too – grandparents/in-laws that buy way too many things for your kids, or extended family that expect elaborate gifts that are out of your budget, or even where and how you will you spend the actual day of Christmas.
Now some of you would say, well I just focus on the reason for the season and that solves everything. And it may simplify some things – but your kids may still have a Christmas program, church has Christmas program, your husband’s work has Christmas party, you still may send cards, and I bet you still have at least a few gifts to buy and then wrap. So regardless of how simple we can try to make Christmas it doesn’t change the fact that it does add things to our schedule and our life. I do think we do need to remember the true reason for the season and make that the focus – that is why I hope to learn through this series right along with you how to make all those extra “to-do’s” not put so much stress on us so that we can truly focus on the reason for season.
So how do we stop the stress? I think there are 2 ways we can make Christmas meaningful and not stressful – simplify and plan ahead.
SIMPLIFY. Say it with me. It is ok for things to be simple, to not be be Pinterest-perfect, for our homes to not be the best decorated home on the street, and for our gifts to be simple because that is what fits in our budget.
I know from my own personal experience and some of you made comment to the same thing – WE are the ones that make Christmas stressful. We put expectations on ourselves that things must be a certain way or it isn’t going to be a good Christmas for our family. WE think that things have to be perfect – our home needs to be perfectly and over the top decorated for Christmas, we need to buy a huge pile of gifts for each child, gifts for each extended family member, the mailman, every teacher your child has every had, cookies from the grocery store aren’t good enough – we have to make elaborate, time consuming decorated sugar cookies, and the list could go on and on. Will you as a working mom remember in 5 years if you bought Nestle premade cookie dough for your Christmas baking instead of spending the entire night in the kitchen baking or the night you made memories watching Frosty the Snowman by the Christmas tree lights with your family eating popcorn? Will your kids remember the pile of presents that you stressed about and overspent buying and and then had to wrap or the one meaningful toy that they really wanted or the gift that helped your family make memories together? What if we took a step back and kept things more simple?
(My brother-in-law/sister-in-law and niece and nephew decorating a gingerbread Christmas train and house last year. Our gift to our nephews – not a thing/toy but a gift of TIME and memories of us all doing it together. Consuming so much sugar and candy that the kids were wild so we went and looked at Christmas lights in the dark to settle them down for bedtime. A gift I remember and I hope they do too.)
And once we have let down those expectations we put on ourselves, we can be free to really enjoy some easy Christmas baked goods, some simple yet creative decorations in our home, and even some fun or new family traditions. I will be discussing ideas on how and where we can simplify, homemade gift ideas, gifts you can give to teachers, Christmas décor that is creative but not difficult or expensive, and more in the coming days.
The second way we can stop the stress is to plan ahead.
Oh my entire life would be so much less stressed if I would just PLAN. AHEAD. Why do we have to wait until December 10th to take the family Christmas photo, then order cards, then stress ourselves out trying to get them in the mail in time? Why do you have to wait until after Thanksgiving to buy presents or even better wrap presents? Could you start now making some homemade goodies for the freezer to pull out for that Christmas party or making some homemade gifts for teachers so they are done and ready when the time comes? We will talk about scheduling and planning and all the things that can be done in advance in coming days.
I really want input from you throughout this series – at any time feel free to comment here, or on facebook, or even send me an email about things you would like to see discussed. So have I nailed the reasons why Christmas is stressful to you? If not tell me why in the comments? And how could YOU make Christmas less stressful?