As soon as consciousness hit Monday morning, I started stressing. My mind was revving full speed before I even opened my eyes. Climbing out of bed, I had to do deep breathing to get a grip.
Yep, ’tis the season.
I love the holidays but these days, there’s no time to enjoy them. At work, I’m still trying to catch up from the Thanksgiving break and am now inundated with extra holiday coverage. On the home front, the kids all have swim meets out of town this weekend, which will take a toll on work as well as my holiday preparations. And the first week of December flew by so fast, I’m worried that Christmas will be over before I get my act together.
It’s like this every year. This season, however, I want to make a change. Here are five things I’m hoping will help.
- Call me heartless, but the first thing I did to simplify the season was to break it to my 12-year-old that there’s no Santa. Luckily, he took the news in stride. (I’m telling myself he already knew because it makes me feel better). So now I don’t have to freak out if I can’t find a present on the Santa list, greet the UPS driver at the door so packages don’t end up in the wrong hands, find super secret hiding spots for oversized gifts or use special wrapping paper only found at the North Pole. Santa is fun and magical and I’m sure I’ll miss him, but I think I’m ok with moving on.
- Next I scheduled the important family traditions on the calendar in ALL CAPS. This included the tree farm visit, cookie baking, a shopping date with my hubby and gingerbread house making with friends. Actually, that last one isn’t on the calender yet, but I sent an email to nail down a date. I also gave my friend the chance to opt out in case this is adding to her seasonal stress.
- Then I considered which tasks I can blow off this year and which to pass on to someone else. Since Christmas comes twice as fast as it used to, I’ve decided that cards only need to be sent every other year. This is the off year. Next year might be too. And as for passing on tasks, Lilly has already asked if she can do my least favorite job — stringing the lights on the tree. She’s excited about it so that’s a win-win.
- Now I’m trying to focus on not rushing through the fun stuff. Even though we were pressed for time at the tree farm last weekend, we didn’t chop down the first decent tree we found but wandered around until we all agreed on one (more or less). Lilly and Adam played chariot with the wheeled tree cart, and we stopped in the barn to buy ornaments and hot chocolate and to take pictures. (That’s Lilly and Adam in the picture above goofing off at the tree farm. It makes me smile every time I look at it.)
- Lastly, I’m trying to welcome the holiday spirit into my busyness by listening to Christmas music as I’m working, delighting in the twinkling lights as I drive the kids around and above all, keeping a joyful attitude.
Hopefully all of this, and a little deep breathing, will help to keep the seasonal stress at bay.
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FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 17, Lilly, 16, Adam, 16, and Jonah, 12.