As parents we are busy all year, but the holidays ramp this up while also giving us a nice big dose of expectations on top of it all. There are gifts to buy and houses to decorate and parties to attend. There are school parties and class gifts and holiday concerts and in-laws and commitments and Hatchimals you can't find and wish lists a mile long on top of all the usual bills to pay and groceries to buy and laundry to fold and work that needs to get done.
Here are a few simple steps to ease the stress and re-focus during the merry and bright season, so you can focus on what's important for you and for your family.
First, plan plan plan. Yes, I know this sounds like a simple and obvious one, but it really makes all the difference. The difference between being at the starting gate when the week starts or playing catch up every day. Plan the shopping for the week, the meals for the week, the carpooling and activities for the week. Even if it's just a quick overview, it'll let you mentally prepare for what needs to get done and what you can take off your plate. Which leads me to the next step...
Take something off your plate. After you lay it all out there to plan, figure out what you don't actually want to do or don't have time to do. We all know that feeling. You say yes to plans and are excited (sorta) about it in the moment, and then you immediately regret saying yes because you have too much to do (or you just don't want to go), so you then dread having to follow through, or make up an excuse. All that energy you're using up leading up to the event or plans could've been avoided by just saying no. There's nothing wrong with wanting to skip the party and stay home. You know what you need, so just mom up, say no, and then let it go.
Re-evaulate. The other day, I found myself scrolling through an article on my phone about when Hatchimals would be at Target again. My 8 year old has a Hatchimal at the top of her list for Christmas, and I really wanted to get her one. I'm sitting there thinking to myself, should I show up super early and see if I can get one?! Then I started down a bizarre and totally unnecessary spiral, thinking "What if I don't get one?", "Will she be really disappointed?!". Then I reminded myself where her number one gift from last year is currently. It's at the bottom of the toy basket, a bike riding Barbie. The bike is mostly dismantled, the Barbie is partially clothed, and this NUMBER ONE TOP GIFT from 2015 turned out to be just another toy. I imagined myself two months from now, picking up a discarded Hatchimal from the playroom floor and tossing it into the toy bin thinking "I got up at dawn and elbowed my way through a crowd of present crazed moms for that thing and she doesn't even play with it anymore". Would it be worth it? Nope. So why did I want to get it in the first place? Because in my mind I assigned it a place in the picture of what a perfect Christmas would look like. There would be the toy that she wanted, wrapped up under the perfectly decorated tree, and in that moment it would all come together.
I mean, even as adults we sometimes need to remember what the whole point is of the holidays. Once I realized I was just caught up in the actual challenge of finding this hard to find item and it's importance was totally blown our of proportion I actually laughed to myself. Lack of Hatchimal should not ruin Christmas, and if it did, I've got bigger issues to tackle than my failure to secure an overpriced toy. And maybe, just maybe, I'll wait till her birthday six months from now when there are Hatchimals aplenty and I don't have plan a strategy to get one.
Savor it. While you're busy checking things off your list, make sure you stop and enjoy some of this. It can all feel like a countdown clock is ticking over your head, making sure you have everything arriving in time and finding everything you want before the big day and OMG it's already the 14th how is that even possible and did I move the Elf last night or no?! Just stop, for a minute. Be mindful of the joy of this time of year. Feel that joy, find a way to spread that joy. Do something little to make you happy. Call a friend to catch up. Watch Elf with the kids. Make Santa pancakes (seriously they're just regular round pancakes with a whipped cream beard, blueberry eyes and a strawberry hat, you can do this). And just breathe. They are only little once. You will only have so many years to eat the cookies left out for Santa. Take the time to look around and be present.