Do you notice how Mom is the one who makes the holidays happen? Mom is the one who shops for gifts, decorates the house, prepares holiday meals, and plans special activities. Mom is also the one most likely to end up frazzled, exhausted, and snappy by the time Christmas rolls around.
My holiday memories revolve around my mother. I remember a magical Christmas tea party she gave for my friends; she set a lovely table with fancy finger foods, vintage red glass, real silver, and a lace tablecloth. Those memories of Mom have probably grown rosier with time and can create an unrealistic standard I feel I have to live up to.
Our family lives in a Middle Eastern country where Christmas doesn’t really exist, so it’s easy to start feeling overly responsible to make the holiday special. I want to create a warm atmosphere of holiday blessing and fun for my family, but I also fall into a martyr complex when I get overly tired and that’s no fun for anyone!
Maybe the most strategic thing a mom can do to make sure her family enjoys a Christ-centered, joyful holiday is to take care of HERSELF.
Here are seven ways to care for yourself during busy December:
1. Put God first.
Make Christ the center of your family’s celebration. At the start of each day, spend a few minutes with God for spiritual refueling. I love the short daily readings from Good Morning Girls’ Advent Study. His Word will give you peace and perspective.
2. Ask for help.
Don’t go it alone. Ask your husband and children what they’d like to do, and share responsibilities like gift wrapping, baking, and decorating. The benefit is two-fold: you get help, and your family has more ownership of their celebration. I felt overwhelmed at Thanksgiving, so I asked my son to help me make appetizers. He was more than happy. My daughter is working now on a holiday fun schedule for the family.
3. Embrace your limits.
Don’t feel you have to say yes to every social invitation and to every request your family makes for a special holiday activity. (If they ask you to do something, tell them you need to know they’ll help before you say yes!)
Consider downsizing holiday traditions by letting go of anything that you don’t enjoy much anyway.
4. Avoid stress by shopping on-line. Early.
5. Schedule time for yourself.
Do whatever keeps you sane, whether it’s spending an evening on the couch with a book, keeping up with your exercise routine, or planning a coffee date with a friend. Pamper yourself when you can with whatever brings you a sense of inner calm: candles, soft music, or a massage.
6. Eat healthy.
Keep ingredients for quick, easy meals on hand, so that it’s easier to resist the urge to grab Christmas cookies for lunch on your way out the door or to go through the drive-through on your way back home.
7. Make sure to get enough sleep.
So that’s my self-care plan for December. Do you ever feel frazzled during the holidays? What do you do about it?