By Shannon Fisher, And Now I’m A Mom
I love Christmas. Always have, always will. I even survived years working retail at Christmas and I still love it. I love the magic, the lights, the love, the decorations. I love Christmas baking, and all the holiday crafts, even though it can take a lot of time to accomplish. Now that I’m a new mom for Christmas, it feels like the pressure is on more than normal.
At the beginning of the season I had a giant list of tasks I wanted to joyfully get done for Christmas- baking, crafts, decorations, homemade presents… You name it, I probably wanted to make it. I started to stress myself out about needing to get everything done, but I soon realized I was setting myself up for failure, and where’s the joy in that? I can’t just drop everything and bake an elaborate batch of goodies when I have a baby who doesn’t want to play alone, and I can’t easily break out the glue gun when I have someone’s little hands that want to reach for everything. Which leaves the times when she’s sleeping, and let’s be honest. I can barely sit down for a cup of tea, much less start a crafting empire in the hour she’s asleep.
So whether you’re Santa’s Little Helper or Ebenezer Scrooge at Christmas, I’ve put together a little list to help you get through the holidays with a little Christmas cheer left for yourself.
1. Make a list, and check it twice.
Santa had the right idea here. Make a list of everything you want to accomplish. Then, when you look over it again, try to come up with a reasonable timeline of things you can ACTUALLY get done without pulling your hair out.
If you don’t know where to start, divide your list into “necessary” and “if I have time”. And if you can’t get to the second half, don’t give it a second thought. Maybe you can try next year. Maybe not. Who cares.
2. Understand that as a new mom or dad, the stakes may now seem higher, but they don’t have to be. Ask for help.
Moms seem to take on a lot of extra emotional labour over the holidays, and it can be downright exhausting. Making the list for the presents to make sure you don’t miss anyone. Getting the presents, wrapping them, tagging then. Sending out Christmas cards in time. Getting the perfect present for the kid/kids. Making sure the house is decorated, and now-baby safe. Preparing either for hosting, or to travel for Christmas. The list goes on.
It may seem impossible to get through it all with your sanity in tact, but take a deep breath. Delegate where you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Overwhelmed with the idea of buying your entire extended family perfectly picked presents? Suggest a secret Santa. That doesn’t work? Suggest a rule where only presents for kids are bought. Last year my family decided to only give socks, and the pressure, both mentally and financially it took off from us was immeasurable.
People can be pretty understanding, and chances are they’re going through the same stresses. You just need to ask.
3. Take a minute for yourself.
I know, I know. Who has time for this?
No new mom, that’s for sure. But try. If you can find an extra 10 minutes to wrap that present for Suzy, you can find an extra 10minutes to take a bath, or go for a walk, or have a coffee or whatever it is that you like to do. Try to stay away from social media scrolling though, because as much as we do it to waste time, we all know it isn’t actually relaxing. You deserve a few minutes to do something for you. Even if it after everyone’s gone to bed, or when you should be doing the dishes. The dishes will still be there when you’re done.
4. Try to limit your social obligations.
People like to use Christmas as a time to host or organize a gathering every weekend. Whether it’s for work, family, friends, sometimes it can seem like it’s taking over your whole schedule. As a parent, this gets a hell of a lot more overwhelming, because you’re not just dealing with your own tired self, you’re now trying to wrangle an overtired, overstimulated baby or toddler and trying to get them to relax enough to not make a scene before you can deal with the backlash at home while putting them to bed.
It’s just. Not. Worth. It.
If an event starts too late, just politely decline and blame the kids. Because, well, it’s true. Send your well wishes and ask for some selfies from the party if you feel like it.
5. Try your best to remember that it’s only a holiday, and it’s only once a year.
Stressing over Christmas seems counterintuitive to me, yet it’s one of the leading causes of stress and depression. Everytime you feel yourself getting stressed about presents, or things that need to get done, remember this- it really doesn’t matter.
If it’s the end of the world that you weren’t able to get a gift, or make that batch of cookies- that person probably doesn’t deserve it anyway. Do what you can, and whatever you can’t- remember that it’s just a holiday, and try to enjoy it. That’s what it’s there for.