The holiday season can be a blur of parties, shopping, and stress. The key to surviving the holiday season is pacing. You'll never make it the entire holiday season - from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve - unless you banish guilt, learn to say no, and enlist help. Plan ahead to make sure big projects are covered and last-minute shopping doesn't add to your holiday season stress.
Plan Your Holiday Season
It's never too early to start planning your holiday season. When I book December airplane tickets in early fall, I'm always surprised by how many people got there before me.
Sit down with your family to decide the most important priorities of the holiday season. Will you travel to Grandma's for Thanksgiving? What are the dates of your children's important sporting events, concerts, or performances? Are there work trips coming up?
Make sure to leave room in the schedule for last minute additions - you know there will be some as you're invited to parties and work projects crop up. The more you are able to include children in this discussion, the fewer fights you'll have later when you have to decline invitations or skip activities.
Get Ahead at Work
Most of us have slow times at work, when it's nice to catch up and maybe take some time for lunch with colleagues.
This year, when things get slow, instead of taking it easy, see if you can get a jump on any upcoming projects. If you can lighten your workload ahead of the holiday season, it will make it easier to fit in school events and December shopping.
Buy Gifts in Advance
Buying gifts on Christmas Eve is like grocery shopping on an empty stomach. You are bound to spend too much money and purchase unnecessary items on impulse.
Early in the holiday season, make a list of everyone you want to give a gift and how much you want to spend on each person. Think about what they would truly like, not just what you could get them to cross them off the list.
As you're doing your usual shopping, or when you have free time, keep an eye out for the perfect gift. Make sure you don't go over your budget.
Consider implementing a gift exchange or grab bag with family or groups of friends, to cut costs.
Learn How to Say No
Busy families are used to being consumed with different activities and commitments - many of us thrive on constantly being occupied. But overscheduling can drain you and your children. Not only can this hurt their school performance and your work efforts, it is simply no fun.
After you set your holiday season priorities, stick with them. That means not being guilted into an extra trip to see relatives or a late-night holiday party that will only exhaust you and the kids.
If you have trouble saying no directly, instead say that you'll think about it or that you have to check with your spouse or calendar. That gives you time to decide whether it's something you really want to do.
So often, we working moms think we have to do it all. Or we feel that we can do it faster and better than anyone else who might help.
This is a sure recipe for a burned out mommy. Instead, consider which holiday season tasks you could ask your spouse, relative, friend, or even a child to take on.
Maybe your kids can put together gift wish lists for themselves or their siblings and cousins. Certainly everyone can help with cookie baking and cooking for holiday parties.
Most importantly, when you enlist help, say thank you, don’t micromanage, and don't criticize the results. If your husband is in charge of gifts for his side of the family, don't remind him to do it. If he forgets or doesn't get it done, be sympathetic but don't add the chore back to your list.