Oh, the dream of a stress-less Christmas! It’s just wishful thinking, right? If you’re anything like me, you’re probably already starting to feel a little overwhelmed and stressed out. After last Christmas, my husband and I vowed we’d never let the holidays roar past so quickly without taking time to enjoy them again. This year, we’re trying a new scheduling approach to make sure we slow down and make some memories. Here are the steps we followed to make sure we didn’t miss the meaningful moments!
Identify Scheduled Events:
Brainstorm all the activities currently on the books. Using this free printable December 2016 calendar (from iMom.com), sit down with your spouse (and kids if needed). Get every activity on the books now so there aren’t surprises. That means every family obligation, Christmas program, church activity and holiday party – every single one.
Identify Unscheduled Activities:
Now, brainstorm all the unscheduled activities you’d like to do in December at some point. This can include a drive to look at Christmas lights, caroling, ice skating, holiday baking, decorating activities, shopping, etc. A lot of these activities are the real memory makers and the traditions that define your family’s holiday season.
Now, cut it all WAY back!
Start with the scheduled activities. The nice thing about the holidays is invitations often come with the disclaimer that the host “knows this is a busy time of year and understands if you can’t attend.” Take advantage of that. If you’re honest with yourself there are three types of events – ones you want to attend, ones you know you ought to attend, and everything else. Cut out the everything else. Don’t feel like you need to do it all. Especially things that aren’t unique to this time of year. Did your girlfriend invite you to her Tupperware party? Its okay to decline and say that you’ve got too much going on right now.
Next, look at the unscheduled activities. What do you really want to do and what’s really important to your family this Christmas? Chances are there are some things on that list that are just there because you do them every year but no one loves them. This is also the time to be realistic about your DIY aspirations. Were you planning on sewing each member of your extended family a personalized apron? Is that how you want to spend your time? Would a cute apron from the store with a personalized touch do the trick? Pare down that list to get to the real heart of what makes Christmas, Christmas to you.
Schedule your unscheduled activities:
The last step is the most important, schedule those activities that don’t have an assigned date and time. Use a free Saturday morning to decorate cookies with Grandma. Pick an evening to get the kids in PJ’s right after dinner and go look at Christmas lights. Set aside a regular night every week to honor the true reason for the season with an advent devotional. Once these are scheduled in, when additional activities come up – and we all know they will – you’ll be able to pick and choose what you want to do and reschedule as necessary. If you’re schedule still looks hectic, I encourage you to go back and take a closer look at step 3 and 4. Looking back at Christmases as a time of jam packed activities and stress is not what you want for yourself or your family.
Place your final calendar in a spot where everyone can see it, like the refrigerator door so you don’t forget obligations or fritter away time. Okay, this probably won’t make your holiday totally stress-less but I hope this gives you some ideas for dialing back your holiday busyness. If you have a way that you keep holiday stress to a minimum, please share it with me in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you’re doing at your house!