Tis the season to be merry and enjoy your loved ones. Or…tis the season to get super stressed out and beat yourself up because you're not doing all the things you think you should be doing and spend too much money. Meet my Christmas hacks for frazzled moms. These shortcuts (AKA mom hacks) might not make your stress melt away but they can give you a fresh perspective and maybe help you take a step back, take a deep breath and keep your merry.
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Christmas Hacks for Frazzled Moms
Here are a few holiday hacks I've found helpful in minimizing holiday stress.
Realize there’s no such thing as a stress-free Christmas
First rule of fight club is to understand Christmas and stress go hand in hand. If you accept up front that stress is going to make an appearance then you’re better prepped to receive it.
That's not saying you should let stress take over or rule the day but acknowledging that you're a real person with real responsibilities that doesn't live in a Hallmark movie might help you get over those little speed bumps that come along.
Perhaps the most important Christmas hack for moms – Don’t let social media dictate your holidays
Instagram and Facebook don’t govern what Christmas should be for your family. Your feed might lure you into to thinking you need to make an entire gingerbread village or six zillion batches of “super easy” DIY sugar scrub but…just no. I love social media just as as much as the next girl but remember, those little squares show you just a glimmer of what someone's actual life is life.
And you know what? Their life isn't your life. Don't let what you see other people sharing dictate what your holiday should look like. Because they aren't you.
If someone asks “what can I do” or “what can I bring” the answer is never “nothing.” There. Is. Always. Something.
Can someone do your table arrangements? Bake pies? Buy pies from the bakery? Send their teen to help you get decorations out of your attic or babysit while you bake, shop, or decorate?
And, you don't have to make homemade everything. Get a couple of these cookie decorating kits from Amazon – both a desert and a kid's activity. Winning.
Accepting help is especially important when you're hosting the holidays at your home but don't turn down any offer of help. I know you control freaks out there might have a hard time with this one. Baby steps. Letting someone else handle desert or hiring someone to hang your outside lights is a start and it buys you some time back.
If someone offers to help, let them. If no one's offering and you need help, speak up. I know…it's not always easy but I think letting other people help me is one of the best holiday hacks I can pass on to you.
Simplify gift giving
Pare down your list. Are you giving gifts because you feel obligated or because “everyone else is?” Do you really have to get something for all of your kids’ teachers or every one of their friends? Are you expected to buy a present for every one of your nieces and nephews?
Family traditions dictate some of your gift buying but there’s nothing wrong with shaking things up a little bit, evaluating what you’re doing and making changes. YOU control YOUR budget and YOUR time.
We buy very conservatively for our kids and we don’t give many gifts outside of our immediate family. We give a lot of gift cards or use Amazon delivery…no lines, crowds or gifts to wrap. I’m a terrible wrapper by the way. If I do have to wrap something, I’m team gift bag all the way.
You don’t need to do all the things
Here's where your “shoulds” and “have to's” might come into play. You might have ideals of certain thresholds you need to meet to make your holiday a success.
Santa at the mall? The zoo? Your church? Your mom’s church? Your friend’s church? At your community center? Your gym?
The point I’m trying to make is that there are a lot of parties this time of year…and lots of Santas. You do not have to attend everything and your kids will really be okay if you don't. I promise. You are not shortchanging your family if you don't take them to dozens of holiday events.
Make a plan for which events you’re going to hit and stick to it. Other stuff will come up. You are probably not obligated to adjust every time you hear about another cookie exchange. I'm not a scrooge. I love parties and cookies and Santa visits and caroling. But, most people who have families would find a month of constant wassailing stressful. Even though its the holidays, you probably still have regular life to deal with. Bedtimes and work and getting dinner on the table and remembering to put gas in your car. You won’t enjoy your family time if you’re frazzled and bitchy because your schedule is jam-cram packed. That's not what Christmas is about.
Ditch the notion of the “perfect” family picture
If you have kids, you know that getting everyone to look at the camera, look reasonably happy, not fight or pick their nose is pretty much impossible.
Try getting candid shots or use a picture from earlier in the year. Pick a cute snap of your kids at the zoo or your family at the beach and slap that on your holiday card. Coordinated holiday outfits of Christmas pajama photo shoots are fun but if they're falling into the category of “have to's” maybe it's time to rethink. i
And, if that perfect, Christmas themed picture is really important to you, mark your calendar for September and get it knocked out them before the full force of holiday stress hits you.
Holiday Self Care = Holiday Hack
Motherhood means consistently putting yourself last. I know, I do it, too. But, try this – look at yourself in the mirror and say “I’m the most important person.” It’s true! All of the holiday stuff (and probably all of the everyday stuff, too) would fall apart without your touch, so why not do something nice for yourself? Such as:
– Get a manicure or pedicure
– Go shopping. Buy a pretty “go-to” holiday outfit or buy some new lingerie just because. Treat yourself.
– Go to the gym. It will alleviate stress and will make you feel better about those seven cookies you scarfed down.
Do at least one of these things, and don’t say you can’t because you can if you make self-care a priority.
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Plan for mess and clutter…
…because there will be mess and clutter. You’ve got extra stuff in your house this time of year. You’ve got presents to wrap and all the clutter that goes along with that. You’ve got extra ingredients for holiday meals and then you’ve got everyday bric-a-brac you’ve had to put aside to make room for holiday bric-a-brac.
Maybe your solution is a staging area for gifts and wrapping materials. Maybe you designate a portion of your kitchen counter for cookie stuff. Maybe you shove everything into one room and try not to think about it (a strategy that has worked well for me for years because hey…I can handle the denial.)
Related post: Four ways social media is ruining Christmas
Mess and clutter send my OCD brain into overdrive and it helps me a lot when I get ahead of it a little bit instead of letting it sneak up on me.
Cooking, baking and crafts
What do you HAVE to do? What do you LIKE to do? If you get sincere enjoyment out of spending hours in the kitchen, then do it. You may have to sacrifice some sleep or shave something else off your to-do list but we tend to happily make time for what we love, right?
Related post – Easy tree branch star ornaments
If you don’t love it, consider saying no. Buy ready-made goodies and look into made-ahead holiday dinners – there are tons out there. Let go of the “it must be made from scratch” guilt and redefine “have to.” Remember, you are the most important person.
And also? Odds are no one will scrutinize your mashed potatoes at Christmas dinner and ask if you mashed them personally. The Bob Evans mashed potatoes you buy in the grocery store refrigerator section are foolproof. Dump them in a crockpot and slap some butter in there and unless you've got someone in your family that believes they're some kind of side dish expert, no one will care.
I’m a big believer in holiday shortcuts. I mix a cup of sausage crumbles and diced onion into my box of stuffing mix that I prepare in the microwave. I smile, nod and feign modesty when people compliment my efforts in the kitchen. I’ve been known to buy Christmas bakery cupcakes, take a knife to the icing, making them look “imperfectly mine.” No one will ever notices…if they do? I totally deny it. And if they don't believe it? I really don't care.
Here’s wishing you an (almost) stress-free Christmas!
Thank you for reading! I hope you've found my Christmas hacks for moms a little bit helpful. If you have a suggestion or a mom hack that's worked for you, I would love for you to leave a comment and tell me.