Updated: Nov 30, 2021
As moms, we get asked to take on more new tasks during the holiday season than we already have the rest of the year. There may be kid's parties at school when we are asked to contribute a snack, a gift for the teacher, or a gift for other students. If you are a working mom, there may be holiday events for work or end of the year deadlines to be met. Most of us also have numerous family get togethers, sometimes with several different sets of family.
Holidays can be a fun and magical time, but there is also a lot that needs to be done. You may be traveling, entertaining, or shopping for children's gifts. All of that can be exciting and fun but also busy and stressful. Since stress and emotions run high, it is more important than ever to make some time for self care.
Keep Your Routine.
We learned this a bit the hard way with Halloween. We did a bunch of fun activites for our toddler, and then we told her it was time to go to bed. She was crying and disappointed that she didn't get to have her usual nighttime routine and snuggle up with a movie before bed.
It may seem fun to break out of your routine, wear pajamas all day, or stay up till all hours of the night. But if you are stressed out already, staying in your routine, at least for the most part, can actually help you feel more relaxed. This is true for your kids as well. Having a predictible routine can actually help kids feel safe, because they will typically know what is coming next. That is why doing all different activities throughout the holidays can be so stressful.
Even if you can't keep the normal routine throughout most of the day, at least try to keep your morning routine and bedtime routine the same. That way, you and the kids have some structure to the beginning and the end of the day.
It is important to take breaks every day, and spend at least a few minutes doing something that you enjoy. According to BBC Worklife, "we can concentrate for no longer than 90 minutes before needing a 15-minute break." So trying to power through tasks is actually making you less productive because your attention span has been exceeded. No matter what you are doing, it is good to take a break for a few minutes.
Now that so many of us are working from home, sometimes with kids at home too, it can feel difficult to take a break. I know it is that way for me sometimes! Something I have learned to make it easier to take a break is to have reminders set on my smart watch. Mine will tell me to stand up once an hour. You can set this type of reminders on your phone or computer as well.
When you take a break, don't just stop looking at your computer and scroll through facebook. It is good to do something that is actually relaxing. It can be good to get up and walk around, go outside for a few minutes, drink a nice cup of tea, do a few minutes of yoga, or read a few pages of a book that you enjoy.
Setting boundaries and being able to say no to things that don't serve you is always important, but even more so during a busy time of the year. It is great wanting to participate in Holiday fun, but at some point it becomes difficult to meet up to many different obligations, and it stops being fun.
Try limiting the number of activities that you take on, and only say yes to the things that you want to do most of all.
For example, if you are invited to five different activities in one day, you can say yes to the one or two that you want to do the most. If there is a play, a musical, a light parade, and a kids party, choose the ones that you like the best and say no to the others. Let the people you are saying no to know that you are pretty busy that day already, and you would love to see them another time.
Or, if you are invited to three different family dinners in one day, you can limit the time you spend at each one. You could stay for example 2 hours at each place, so that you still get the kids home for bed at a normal time. Or if you are asked to cook something, then you can either make a large batch of the same dish and take some to each place, or you could take store-bought items to a couple of them.
If you are overwhelmed trying to cook at all, you can order nice pies from local bakeries. Or you can offer to bring some wine, and order it delivered from an app like Drizly, so that you don't have to take time running errands.
Rest is Valuable Too.
It is also OK to say no to things because you need to rest. Try not to schedule an activity every day, or every hour of the day.
Taking time for yourself to rest can help you have more energy for the things that you do decide to take on. Don't feel guilty for needing rest. Especially in our culture of overwork, busyness and lack of sleep can be seen as badges of honor, but it isn't really necessary or healthy. You don't have to show how committed you are to your family or your job by sacrificing your health. Don't stay up all night trying to get things done, or get up at 4am so you can finish.
When you wear yourself out, it can lower your immune system, and you are more likely to get sick, depressed, overwhelmed and burnt out. Then, you won't have the energy to do anything at all. Resting and proper sleep can give you more energy and better health. And with all the viruses that go around in the winter this is especially important.
It's ok to tell people NO when you just don't feel like you have energy for something. Scheduling time for rest and relaxing is good for you, and important to plan into yor day.
Take Care of Your Health.
Maintaining your health is more important than ever when you are really busy. I always tell my teen daughter to take extra vitamin C when it is the busy holiday season, so that she doesn't fall sick from overworking. This is something that can be important for all of us.
Keep eating healthy, exercising, and getting proper sleep too. All of these improve your overall health, which can improve your response to stress too. When we are in our best overall health, we cope with stress better. The more stressed you are, the more important it becomes to take care of your health.
Getting your Flu shot, or getting a doctor check up at the holidays can be a good preventative measure as well. Taking care of your health is an important form of self care!
Think of your Mental Health Too.
If you see a therapist, don't put off your visits over the holidays. Keeping to your regular schedule can be another helpful routine to maintain. If you don't usually see a therapist, you can easily find one online. Some people suffer from either holiday depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Other helpful practices for your mental health include meditation, mindfulness, listening to music you like, reading for fun, doing a sodoku or crossword puzzle, or snuggling up and watching a holiday movie with the kids.
The holidays are a time for celebrating, so be sure to celebrate yourself too. It is a great time to take a spa day, take a bubble bath with a glass of wine, or buy yourself some new candles, or curl up next to the fire place with a good book.
Remember, if you are spoiling your kids and family, it is a great time to spoil yourself too. Everyone deserves to enjoy the holiday season with some fun!
When you are out shopping, you can pick up a nice snack, some wine, or fuzzy slippers and a new facial mask.
If you are more extraverted, it can be a great time to get together with friends, to unwind a little bit. You can go out to an event, or you can do a skype happy hour with girlfriends who are far away. Spending time with our friends is a great way to recharge too.
When you go to see your friends, it is great if you have mom friends so the kids can have a play date too!
Connect With Your Partner.
Our partners are our teammates for life. Keeping our connection strong through stressful times can help anchor us in a busy world. We can work together to share extra tasks needing to be done, child care, and communicating frequently can help us coordinate better.
There are many simple ways to connect with our partners during the holiday season. Whether it is sharing a cup of coffee in the morning and planning out the day, having a date night, or a simple hug and holding hands while we walk through the store to buy gifts, connecting is important while we are busy.
Taking more time with our partners can help us recharge, just like taking time for ourselves. According to Medicine Net, "When you hug, touch, or sit close to someone you love, your body releases oxytocin, which scientists call the “cuddle hormone.” This hormone can help relax and lower anxiety, which in turn can effectively lower blood pressure."
Making time to do something nice with our partners is good for our relationships, our partners, ourselves, and even our to-do list! Two heads are better than one to get things done, and so are two pairs of hands.
For more on self care and coping with stress:
Making time for self care can seem selfish when you are busy, but it is actually more important than ever. Self care helps to keep us healthy, happy, and less stressed. This all allows us to enjoy the holiday season more instead of feeling overwhelmed with a seemingly endless to-do list.
I hope these tips help you and your family to enjoy the holiday season more than ever. Let me know what you think in the comments, and what types of self care you plan to incorporate over the holidays.