How I Combat Holiday Burnout As A Mom

It’s the most… erm. Wonderful time of the year?

Listen, I love the holiday season. The twinkling of lights, the coziness of a crackling fire, the look of wonder (and a little entitlement) in our children’s eyes as they gaze upon the presents under the tree. It’s magic. MAGIC!

But, if I’m being honest, the holiday season is NOT the most wonderful time of the year in my book. As much as I strive to create a solid foundation of core Christmas memories for my child, part of me wants to climb atop my roof like old St. Nick himself and scream, “I’M DONE!!!”

From the endless holiday obligations to the financial strain of gifting, meals to be made, decorations to be hung, and not to mention this NASTY flu season- sometimes I wish I could opt out of all the stress that comes along with this time of year.

But then it occurred to me. Why can’t I? There is no Christmas rulebook. Who says I need to wreck my mental health under the guise of holiday gratitude? Why can’t I focus on the aspects of the seaon that bring myself and my family joy and skip the obligations that don’t?

So, this year, that’s exactly what I plan on doing. And here’s how.

I plan on saying “no” much more this year.

With so many holiday parties, family gatherings, religious obligations, children’s events, and so on, it can often feel like you’re drowning in a sea of forced festivity around this time of year. So here is your friendly reminder that you don’t have to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes your way. Prioritize a few things you really want to participate in this season and politely decline the rest. It’s your holiday too, and you deserve to enjoy it just as much as everyone else

I won’t be on any tacky light tours this year.

Ok, let’s be honest. I’m never on any tacky light tours, but this year I am NOT going above and beyond to decorate my home to the point that it no longer feels fun. There will be no icicle lights hanging from the gutters or giant inflatable snowmen lighting up to the sounds of holiday techno tunes on my front lawn. Instead, I will decorate my mantel as I do every year, dress the tree, put a fresh wreath on my door, and switch out my doormat to something festive and call it done.

I’m not going into debt over gifting.

This is a big one. So many of us fall into the trap of trying to make the holidays AS MAGICAL AS POSSIBLE, which often results in overspending. No more. This year, I am honoring my financial obligations and restraints by only buying gifts for the children in my family. I can’t afford to buy everyone I know a gift, and that’s ok. Instead, I will bring a dish to a meal, bake something to share, spend time with the people I love, and be upfront about not expecting any gifts in return. It’s the season of giving- not the season of going broke. There is nothing wrong with living within your means and not trying to compete with all of Santa’s elves.

I’m leaning into holiday traditions that cultivate calm.

ELF ON THE SHELF= NOT CALM. If you and your family love the Elf on the shelf, by all means- do you. But for me and mine? Waking up at 5 AM to find new and mischievous ways for this dang Elf to make a mess of my already cluttered home is not cultivating any kind of calm. So guess what? I’m not doing it this year. There are plenty of other holiday traditions that I can implement that bring both me and my family joy, so we will be leaning into those this year. Snuggling up and watching our favorite Christmas movies, grabbing a thermos of hot cocoa, and taking a walk around the neighborhood to look at lights, and baking some of our favorite holiday treats are a few that come to mind.

I’m not comparing my experience to others.

This is a big one. I don’t care that Susie and her family spent their holiday season going to Disney World, fed the homeless, volunteered at their church, and topped it off by throwing a massive holiday party at the Ritz. Good for Susie, but that’s not me, and the last thing I want to do is make the holiday season feel like a competition. So instead, I’m going to focus on what I CAN do, and I’m going to feel good about doing it. After all, the holiday season is all about spreading joy, and we all do so in different ways.

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