Navigating holiday stress as a mom
As a mom, are you feeling stressed about how to make the holidays special for your family this year? Gundersen wellness education specialist Christie Harris shares how she’s managing expectations and simplifying to make this unprecedented season meaningful.
While the holidays are often filled with many wonderful emotions, memories and traditions, they can also be challenging—especially for moms. With COVID-19 affecting so many aspects of life, this is perhaps more true than ever.
So, if you're a mom, how can you help ensure your holidays are more joyful than stressful?
Many times, the stress we feel is a result of unrealistic expectations that we have for ourselves. I remember when I became a mom, I wanted everything to be perfect for the holidays. This meant that when the kids wanted to help decorate our tree, I would dash their excitement by letting them start putting up lights and ornaments only for me to stop them when they weren't putting the decorations in the "right" place.
Then there was Santa. Any chance we had to go see Santa, we would. But how many times did our kids really need to see the jolly old fellow? Never mind how difficult it was the year I had to explain to them why Santa looked so different every time we saw him. And don't even get me started on how hard it was to hide "Santa's” wrapping paper and destroy any evidence of it before the kids got up in the morning!
For blended families, there can be more challenges. When your family is large, it's impossible to make everyone happy during the holidays. There just aren't enough of you and your family to go around for everyone—though keeping celebrations to just your household this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19 may help ease this obstacle temporarily.
Another point of potential uneasiness: What do you do when funds are tight? Do you put gifts on a credit card? The problem with that of course being when January comes you must figure out where you are going to find room in your budget to pay off those bills.
Thankfully, there are ways to navigate all these stressors and more.
Be kind to yourself & simplify
It's easy to say and often harder to do, but you need to be kind to yourself during the holidays and try to think realistically. Believe it or not, some amazing memories can be made from the simplest of experiences.
This year, COVID-19 has made me realize that family is what really matters most to me. My kids got to decorate the tree for the first time while my husband and I sat back drinking hot apple cider and watching the kids share their memories about their special ornaments. Our budget has been cut back, too. A couple of nice gifts the kids will enjoy are better than a tree full of presents they take for granted. Family, this is a special gift.
Although it is hard, focus on you and find what works for you and your family to connect this year—even if it is virtually. Celebrate each other in a special and unique way in 2020 so that next year we will still have our loved ones with us and that in-person time will be even more special. Remember the reason for the season and find the joy in a more simplified holiday season!