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Mama Tips for Surviving the Holidays

Does anyone else feel the intense pressure to deliver happy holidays in your house?  If your answer is “Yes”, you are surely not alone. Not only that, but the holidays often lead to family gatherings where personalities may clash (that uncle who always says insensitive things, or the sister-in-law who questions your parenting decisions…) and you dread these events and feel guilty about that. I also find the months of November and December to be the most stressful time of the year. I’m adjusting to my least favorite season, having to purchase gifts for my children and family members and also come up with gift ideas for my family for others to give us.

Here are some things that will help with surviving the holidays! surviving the holidays

For family gatherings, have realistic expectations for how some people are going to show up 

Those family members who make you want to curse or flip the table likely aren’t going to show up this year with a better perspective or attitude. The best thing you can do is acknowledge that they are likely to say or do things that get under your skin, but be prepared to let it roll off your shoulder. I know, this is easier said than done! 

You may try to practice some deep breathing or mindfulness before the gathering, or have a few phrases saved to respectfully stop/redirect the conversation when it’s not going in a good direction. “Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Uncle Joe… Did I tell you about the awesome work that your nephew is doing in school?” “I appreciate you sharing your parenting perspective, Karen, but I also know that there’s more than one way to do things and the same way won’t fit for everyone. I appreciate you respecting the way I choose to parent as I respect your style!” 

Start shopping early to save yourself last minute stress… and be organized!

I used to think it was crazy that stores would start advertising Christmas gifts in October, but now that I’m a mom who has to plan many gifts for many people,  I’m grateful for these early sales! The more you can make purchases early, the less you will feel stressed and rushed during the holidays. Also, you’ll have more time to enjoy the magic of the season! I have a google doc template that I use to track Christmas gifts every year. As I have ideas, I populate them, and as I make purchases, I indicate that the purchase was made and add the price. This helps me make sure I spend what I’m planning to and don’t go too crazy.

Store gifts in your empty containers for Christmas decorations 

When I learned of this hack, I found it absolutely brilliant! Guess what everyone thinks is in those large containers that held your artificial tree, lights, and other decorations once everything is out? NOTHING! It’s the perfect place to hide gifts (especially if you choose to give Santa gifts). You could also put gifts in a decoy container labeled with something embarrassing like “Mom’s underwear” or “extra feminine supplies” to keep snoops away! 

Remember that the memories are more important than the gifts themselves

While it seems that most kids only care about the gifts and material aspects of the holidays, when you look back at your own childhood, I bet you remember the traditions more than the gifts. I know that’s true for me. You might not remember when you got that bike you desperately wanted for Christmas, but I bet you remember your family traditions…. Baking cookies, decorating the tree as a family, driving around to look at lights, or those ornaments that were special to you. All of these things are what your kids will truly remember and appreciate as they look back. 

The picture perfect holiday experiences you see on social media are only a glimpse and may not be real.  

You don’t need to have the perfect Christmas card with beautiful professional photos if that’s not in your budget. I feel like social media also pressures us to capture and share that perfect “Merry Christmas” photo in matching pajamas or dressed up for church or celebrations. I’ve found myself feeling down as I compare my experience to what others share in their feed or Christmas card. I sometimes have to remind myself that life isn’t about these staged moments in time. It’s the little things… The everyday moments, the traditions, the snuggles on the couch, fun creating in the kitchen. These are the things that your children will remember and take with them.  

Happy holidays, mama. You got this! 

How are you surviving the holidays? Do you have any tips? We would love to hear them in the comments!


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