As much as we love this time of year, the holidays can be so stressful. With social media begging you to compare everything and my family’s wants far outweighing their needs most of the time, it is enough to bring out the Grinch in anyone! Nothing sucks the joy out of these special times faster than your heart being clouded with a big stress ball. Especially as parents, our moods set the tone for everyone else and those tense comments we make out of panic or frustration can easily bring the whole house into arguments if we’re not careful. For those of you who thrive under pressure and simply see the chaotic yuletide plans as an interesting challenge, thanks for all you do and we’ll try not to let you make us sick with all your crafty skills. For the rest of us, it’s just not worth the mental breakdowns and the physical toll stress takes on our bodies. We have to find a better way to balance what is doable with what is desirable.
When it comes to the holidays or special occasions, my ideas are usually bigger than my budget or my time will allow. Sometimes it is the things I do to please others. Other times I find myself committing to a job because no one else will. Then, of course, there are my favorites that I can’t bear to skip or don’t want to miss out on. I’m also an introvert, which means all of the people time can be extra exhausting. Like most wearying things in life, none are so bad in and of themselves, but when I try to do them all, bad things happen. Like the frog in the pot of water that doesn’t realize he’s slowly boiling, many of the things I love about the holidays are the ones turning me into the worst version of myself. That is too heavy a price to pay when the entire purpose of this season is to bring joy, peace and family fulfillment.
So, what’s a family-loving mom to do to when she seems to spread holiday stress instead of cheer? Take a breath and shift gears, of course!
Know Your Limits.
Ask your family what stresses you out the most. Ask what stresses THEM out the most. We don’t always know ourselves as well as we think we do, especially in the mad dash of to-dos. For me, sleep is HUGE. When I don’t get enough sleep, not only am I cranky, but after a few days I will certainly get sick. And then everyone suffers even more!
Accept the Disappointing and Imperfect.
There will be parties you can’t attend, perfect gifts you can’t afford and treats that take too much time to make. I have made the mistake before of not accepting defeat on ANYTHING and run myself into the ground to make it all happen. This alone is the recipe for holiday madness and stress. You can’t do it all and you’re not supposed to! Once you can accept those pesky disappointments, moving on to what you can do brings relief and joy. Trust me.
Serve Up Grace Everywhere!
In the name of love, we work so hard to give our family and friends, wonderful memories, but there is likely to be something they desire even more. My husband and I recently came to a long overdue conclusion about our relationship that as much as we would like all of our ideals concerning our life and goals met, at the end of the day receiving grace and favor from the other was more important than just about anything we could squabble over. Every person we meet has a story and seeks understanding and love. Even the annoying relative that has nothing good to say about anyone has unmet needs that maybe you could fill. There certainly is not a lack of people in need of grace, we just have to be looking for them.
Whether you only have a few items left on your list or you’ve just begun the preparations, the grace we’re so generously given is ready to be passed around. As you are loving your family in the next couple of weeks, make sure they are feeling it. That permanent stress scowl can be confusing! Remember that your relationship with them is at the heart of all this craziness anyway. By making God your partner, you’ll be amazed at all the opportunities His amazing grace is needed. That is the best remedy for all that stress and worry!
Amy Butler is a disciple of Christ, the wife of an engineer, mother of three, part time piano teacher and a lover of nature. Writing is where all of her passions come together as she struggles to find the WRITE Balance.