We’re entering that time of the year when only the yucky candy is left in the bottom of the kids’ Halloween baskets, and we’re making Thanksgiving plans while listening to Christmas music. It’s the calm before the storm. The time where we can actually find a parking spot at Target without circling for three hours.
We are about to make the transition from being so thankful for what we have to cut-throat retail ninjas in order to get our holiday shopping done. It’s a beautiful, yet stressful time of the year, but maybe it doesn’t have to be. This year, we decided we’re saying no to six things in order to preserve our sanity.
No to going to all of the parties
Everyone and their mom wants to throw the ultimate Christmas party. And although we’re lucky enough to have friends that invite us to their gatherings, we’re done trying to make it to every single one. And we’re not going to feel bad about it.
Christmas parties mean bringing a dish, wrapping an extra present, finding a sitter and sometimes buying something ugly to wear. We’ll go to one or two this year, we’ll accept invites from our closest friends, but politely decline the rest.
I’m all done stressing about making it to everyone’s party just because I don’t want to hurt their feelings. My holiday calendar is busy enough, and I’m giving myself permission not to be unnecessarily overwhelmed.
No to keep up with the Jones’
I don’t even know anyone with the last name Jones, but I’m still not going to bust my butt to compete with them, whoever they are. This year, I’m not going to go beyond our means to give our kids a bunch of toys they don’t need just so our Christmas tree looks like it’s overflowing with gifts on my Instagram feed.
This year, I’m not going to go beyond our means to give our kids a bunch of toys they don’t need just so our Christmas tree looks like it’s overflowing with gifts on my Instagram feed.
I’m not going to spend hours decorating our house to look like the neighbors. I’m not going to stress about taking the perfect holiday picture to use for Christmas cards. Actually, I’m not even going to worry about sending out any Christmas cards. It’s not something that is important to us, and to be honest, it is not something we are good at. There are many things we’re great at, sending out Christmas cards is not one of them. And I’m not going to feel bad about it.
I’m not going to spend crazy money on a new toy for my toddler when the thrift shop down the street has the exact same thing for $4. This year, I’m giving myself permission to do the holidays our own way and not compare our experience to anyone else.
No to saying yes to everything
The holiday season is packed with activities and events that are intended to get everyone in the holiday spirit. There are potlucks and cookie exchanges, secret Santas and mini photo sessions in a Christmas tree forest. There are opportunities to volunteer in the community, for Christmas pajama playdates, ugly sweater parties and gingerbread building competitions.
Don’t forget attending the community tree lighting ceremony and attending a cute wreath-making workshop. Saying yes to all of them will mean our next few weeks will be jam-packed with places to be and things to do in a season meant for rest and reflection. Saying yes to every holiday-themed invitation will mean feeling stressed, tired and overwhelmed to get it all done.
I won’t stress myself trying to make a dozen cookies the night before a cookie exchange, or spending extra money on a silly gift for a person I barely know to participate in a workplace secret Santa. This year, I’m giving myself permission to not say yes to every invitation and to be intentional about leaving room in my calendar for the things that matter the most to me.
No to doing everything myself
During the holidays, we become so overwhelmed with things to do and places to go that we can forget to ask for help. In a season where we tend to reflect more on the things we have and how we can bless those around us, we forget that asking for help could relieve a lot of our stress. We worry that the people around us are too busy or involved in their own holiday to-do list that they can’t possibly have the time or desire to help us out. But if I know my friends and family, I know this is not the case.
This year, I’ll give myself permission to ask for–and accept–help and not try to be everything to everyone at all times.
Instead of dragging two little boys through the holiday madness of Target that will only end up in a three-person meltdown, I’ll ask my sister-in-law to watch them. Instead of spending time hanging Christmas lights and potentially sticking myself with the nail gun, I’ll take my dad up on his offer to hang the lights. This year, I’ll give myself permission to ask for–and accept–help and not try to be everything to everyone at all times.
No to waiting in line
This is a busy season for everyone. Every store is packed with people who are trying to buy things for other people. There are long lines; it’s just part of the season. But thanks to a handy little invention called the Internet, I won’t be participating in them. I’ll be doing all of my shopping online and will spend the time I would be waiting in line playing with my boys, running, working, or anything else that makes me feel productive and happy.
I’m a pretty patient person and really don’t mind waiting in lines, but if I have the option to cross things off of my shopping list and not have to wear pants, I choose that option. This year, I give myself permission to take whatever means necessary to make holiday shopping fun and enjoyable.
No to rushing through Christmas morning
Our boys are little, and we only get a few of these magical Christmases. We get a handful more of leaving cookies for Santa and seeing the magic in their eyes as they open the gifts they’ve been asking for all year. We are currently creating family traditions that our boys will carry on for a lifetime.
We get a handful more of leaving cookies for Santa and seeing the magic in their eyes as they open the gifts they’ve been asking for all year.
One day they’ll be teenagers, and we can be more flexible in our Christmas schedule, but for now, our Christmas mornings with our little family are sacred. I’m not going to rush them through opening their presents just to get to someone else’s house on Christmas morning.
I’m not going to rush my two-year-old to open his gift if he’s perfectly content playing with the empty boxes. This year, I’m giving myself permission to soak in every loud, crazy moment of Christmas without the stress of getting to the next thing.
If I look back at holidays passed, I can see that the majority of the stress came from over-committing myself to things that didn’t necessarily bring my joy. This year, I give myself permission to say no to the things I know make me feel cranky and overwhelmed in order to truly enjoy the holiday season. I hope you WonderMoms can do the same!★
Diana is an Orlando native, freelance writer, boymom and lover of all things carbs. She enjoys uninterrupted trips to the bathroom, browsing Target without kids, and date nights with her wife. She relates best to moms who live by the 5-second rule and probably give their kids too much screen time.