No matter how merry the Christmas season can be, it also comes with a lot of stress, especially when you're a mom. Suddenly, on top of packing lunches, changing diapers, and generally acting as the CEO, COO, and chief secretary of your household, you're also tasked with shopping for and wrapping dozens of gifts, endless holiday events, and the elusive job of making the season crazy magical for your children. It's enough to make you wish Santa could send some of his elves down to your house to help (and not just the kind that sit on the shelf).
However, there are some simple ways moms can make the holidays more joyful and less anxiety inducing. Give yourself one of these six gift-wrap-free Christmas gifts today.
- Find seasonal childcare. Sure, your regular sitter is booked through the New Year, but not all childcare hope is lost. Many gyms, kids' play spaces, and park districts offer inexpensive holiday drop-off hours designed just to give moms time to tackle their holiday to-do lists. Do a little online research or ask around, and you might just find yourself a few kid-free hours.
- Have your gifts wrapped. I can be a little anal about gift wrapping (Paper Source is my favorite holiday shopping stop), but when my gym started offering free gift wrapping of up to 10 gifts a couple of years ago, even I had to prioritize ease over the perfectly coordinated wrapping paper. Splurge on gift wrapping when you shop online or find a local spot that offers the service, and you'll save yourself hours and rolls of tape.
- Manage your kids' expectations. Sure, Santa is magic, but that doesn't mean he's endlessly generous. Make sure your kids know that not everyone gets a Star Wars drone or Hatchimal (and certainly not both) under the tree. Also, have your family donate toys, food, and time to those in need to teach your kids the real spirit of the season: giving, not receiving.
- Don't say yes to every invitation. Between holiday parties for work and school, get-togethers with friends and family, Santa visits, light shows, concerts, and local Christmas walks, it can feel like there's a hardly a minute to actually sit back and enjoy the season. Give yourself permission to RSVP no to the next party you're invited to and to pick just one or two family-focused holiday events that you all enjoy. The best holiday memories, after all, come from spending time with your loved ones, not from the bell choir/Christmas tea/freezing lights tour you force your kids to attend.
- Limit gifts, especially for adults. Once you have little ones in your life, gifts for every single adult in your life can seem a little ridiculous. Suggest to grown-up friends and family that you limit how much you give and spend. Just be sensitive that kid-less family members might feel slighted if they're giving to your kids and getting nothing in return.
- Celebrate your inner kid. Go make a snow angel, blast your favorite Christmas music, sit on Santa's lap, or buy yourself a generous "to me, from me" gift, wrap it, and put it under the tree. Whatever it is, find that one thing that has always brought you holiday joy and embrace it!