Are the Holidays in full swing at your house? I honestly love Christmas and the entire season that goes with it. I absolutely feel like it goes by too fast and I try to savor every little bit of the Christmas Spirit with my family. Of course, in a perfect world where I didn’t have my regular responsibilities, it’d be much easier to sit back and enjoy the Holidays. But I do have responsibilities that must be taken care of at home, at work and with my family.
Sometimes this can make it difficult to enjoy the season because adding more to an already pretty busy life can feel stressful and overwhelming. It might be too late to really plan ahead anymore, but there are still some ways you can make the Holidays less stressful by simplifying your other routines and daily tasks.
The key is simplification in the day-to-day things that have to get done. If you think about everything you get done in a day, your list can grow to be really long in a short amount of time. Even if we don’t have anything exciting going on, chances are we’re still pretty busy. By pairing down our daily tasks, we can help make room for Holiday activities, shopping and baking.
I think that by making enough time in my schedule for the fun Christmas festivities I want my family to participate in, I enjoy those Holiday things more. If I’m already strapped for time and feel like I’m rushing to just fit something in my schedule because it’s a tradition, I really don’t enjoy it at all.
Because I celebrate Christmas, I usually have to remind myself why Christmas is an important holiday in the first place. The fact that it’s our family’s way of celebrating the birth of Christ brings it all back for me and helps me remember that business is not the key to enjoying the Holiday. Quite the opposite; I know that being present in the moment and doing less and buying less are often the key to celebrating the true meaning of Christmas for me.
So even if you didn’t plan ahead, I’m sharing some ways to cut the stress and overwhelm during the Holidays this year by simplifying your routines.
HOLIDAY STRESS & BUSY SCHEDULES
We all know that often times the Holidays are so busy that life becomes stressful. We try so hard to cram so many fun things into just a short six week period, that we drive ourselves and our families to the brink of overstressed.
Doing everything in your power to reduce stress and simplify schedules during the Christmas season will help you manage a healthy house. Being run down and stressed out during the winter season, especially Christmas is a recipe for disaster.
Not only are we not sleeping as much (most likely), we’re also enjoying more drinks and more sugar than normal, which weakens our immune system. This is why I turn to essential oils so frequently during the Christmas season. We use oils that support our emotional health and support a healthy immune function to keep us in peak performance when we’re running around doing all the Christmas things.
If there’s any way at all we can simplify our Holiday plans, we do it. One thing to remember is that we don’t have to “do it all”, and the important thing is to enjoy the time we have together while celebrating.
MAKING MEALS SIMPLER
Simplifying your meals and cooking over the holidays is SUCH a time saver. For me it means making a double batch of breakfast muffins and keeping them in the freezer to pull out on a busy morning. It also means we do a lot of “make your own salad” nights. While this is actually one of my kids’ favorite meals, it’s a simple and quick meal to put together where everyone is eating healthy food of their choice.
You could also double a recipe and put a full meal in the freezer to use in a week or two when the holidays are in full swing. Other things I like to do are prep the fruits and veggies ahead of time so that lunches and to go foods are always available.
Another thing you could try is just simplifying your meal in general. Soup is a great option for when you want a one-pot meal with few dishes. We love chilli in the winter and one of the reasons is that there is just one pot to clean up and I can make it a bit ahead of the dinner time rush if I want to.
PAIR DOWN CLEANING TASKS
Christmas and the holidays are not the time to do your deep cleaning tasks. In fact, it’s okay to pair down some of your cleaning to the bare minimum during these busy weeks. Often times dusting is one of the things that just doesn’t make the list (unless company is coming over). The things that I HAVE to clean like bathrooms and daily bathroom cleaning get first priority.
I even keep my laundry simplified during the holiday season. Combining loads that I maybe wouldn’t typically do together makes it simpler for me to get all the laundry done without feeling stressed.
KEEP UP ON CLUTTERED AREAS
The clutter that accumulates in the typical places in your house doesn’t go away just because it’s Christmastime. Rather, I think it’s amplified with cards, school notes and year-end mail and to-dos. If you can keep up on cleaning these areas out DAILY, you’ll be ahead of the game in the long run.
I find that if at the end of the day or after my kids have gone to bed I can go through the “collection” spot on our counter or on my desk and make a plan for each piece of mail, I feel better and more on top of things. Plus, I find that fewer to-do items get missed because they’re not getting buried in the mail pile.
This can also be true with your email inbox. By staying on top of it daily, you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed by all the mail coming in.
COMBINE SHOPPING TRIPS & ONLINE ORDERS
You know when you go to Target and you get home under $75 just to realize that you forgot the main thing you went there for? I’m the queen of this. But during the Holidays I just don’t have time to the store all the time to pick up odds and ends. This means I have to be super strategic about what I’m getting from what store and when.
If I know I’m going to have to run out to get shampoo next week, then I might as well pick up this week when I’m at the store, just in case the next week I get too busy. It’s all about keeping a running list and then sticking to it and knowing what’s on it.
We use Google Keep for our shopping list and we keep it updated really diligently in order to avoid those unnecessary last minute shopping trips.
I also try to combine any last minute gift shopping with my regular shopping trips. This way I can get two things done at once, leaving more time for fun holiday festivities.
ASK FOR HELP
You might not be the type of person who’s big into asking for help. But even if you’re not, the holidays are a good time to play that card. Whether it’s a kid swap with your neighbor to get more done or paying for your groceries to be delivered, any little bit of help can help reduce stress over the holidays.
Think of things that HAVE to be done by you and then think of things that really anybody could do. It might be things like shopping, cleaning, watching your kids for a few hours, picking up your kids from school — anything that doesn’t have to be done by JUST you. These are the things you can try to get some help with; either from a paid helper or from a friend or family member.
Also, it’s important to remember that you can make sure everyone in your own house is pulling their weight. The world doesn’t have to rest on your shoulders over the Christmas season. You could have your kids pitch in with chores or do a family day where you’re getting food prep done together. Any way to get everyone to help out will help make the Holidays more enjoyable.
IT’S OKAY TO SAY “NO”
When you’ve exhausted the ideas above and your STILL stressed out from the Holidays. Remember that it’s okay to say “no.” You don’t have to please everyone, and chances are, even by saying “yes” to something, you still have not made everyone happy. Think about what will really bring you and your family peace and joy during the Christmas season, and stick to those things.
We often get wrapped up in tradition and never break from it because we don’t want to ruin a yearly event. But the truth is, it’s okay to do something different, skip a year or change your traditions all together.
It’s more about what is best for your family this year and what has always been best in the past. Realizing that family dynamics and needs change as years go by can help keep this in check. Just because you’ve always done it, doesn’t mean you’ve always enjoyed it. Let go of the guilt and remember it’s okay to say “no” when you have to.