By Katie J. Trent, Crosswalk.com
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But it can also be the most stressful! As a busy wife, homeschooling mom, and entrepreneur, I understand how overwhelming it can feel to juggle all of our responsibilities while adding in the extras that come with the holidays.
So, what’s the secret of all those seemingly perfect and successful mamas out there rocking the holiday season? How do they do it all without losing their minds? Honestly, I’ve never met one of those moms. But, over the years, I’ve figured a few things out that have seriously reduced my stress and increased our family’s enjoyment of the season.
Here are 13 of my best sanity-saving tips to help you make the most of this holiday season without overwhelming you!
13 Sanity-Saving Tips for the Holidays:
1. Organize Events in a Family Calendar
The first step to a successful holiday season is getting organized. Whether you’ve got a physical calendar or you utilize the smart calendars on your phone, it’s important to map out the major events in one central location, so you don’t overbook—and everyone knows what’s happening.
Our family has a weekly dry-erase calendar on the fridge, but my husband and I also stay organized by using the calendar on our phones. These are great because we can invite each other to events, set reminders, and log important details (like addresses, what we’re supposed to bring, if we need to wear an ugly sweater, etc.). Plus, you can color code them for quick reference too. This has seriously saved our marriage!
2. Create a Holiday Bucket List
This is another high priority for our family each fall. We like to create a poster or utilize our whiteboard to write out our family’s holiday bucket list (we do this for summertime too). As a family, we begin listing everything we want to do that holiday season. Think big and small - like build a snowman, go caroling, bake treats for neighbors, look at holiday light displays, trim the tree, bake cookies, make gingerbread houses, etc. If you’re looking for ideas or a cute template to create your own bucket list, you can grab a freebie here.
3. Set a Realistic Budget—and Stick with It
I realize this one’s easier said than done, but it’s truly a necessary evil if you don’t want to start the new year in debt or find yourself scrambling because you didn’t plan ahead. This is always a top priority for us after summer ends. Or, if I’m really on top of things, I set my holiday budget each new year and then begin purchasing gifts throughout so I don’t have to do it all at once. After you know how much you can spend, it’s time to decide who/what you need to spend money on and how much you plan to invest on each person, experience, etc.
4. Hold a Family Meeting
Nothing ruins the holidays (or creates more stress) than unmet expectations. It’s important to get on the same page. Talk about expectations, plans, etc. This is also a great time to make your holiday bucket list!
5. Say NO
This is hard for me too. But saying no to good things helps you give your best yes to the most important things. Running yourself ragged, blowing your budget, and overscheduling your days are quick ways to ruin your holiday season. So say it with me. “NO.” And don’t feel like you have to justify your no. You don’t need to explain how busy you are, how you already made plans, etc. It’s absolutely okay to simply say, “No. Sorry, I won’t be there, but thanks for the invitation.”
6. Work Together
As a family, working together is always essential, especially during the holidays. Everyone needs to pitch in and do their part. This is great to reiterate at your family meeting. Maybe it’s additional chores you need the kids to do, specific tasks you’re asking your spouse to help with, or family projects everyone needs to pitch in for. Remember, many hands make light work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
7. Get Creative
Creative problem-solving can go a long way in saving your sanity this holiday season. Handmade gifts can save the budget, or white elephant gift exchanges can be fun, so you aren’t buying a ton of new things for each holiday party. Have fun & think outside the box.
8. Create Lists
With so many events to juggle and things to do, lists are a great way to stay organized. You’ll also experience a sense of accomplishment as you check them off one by one! I make a list of everyone I need to send holiday cards to, who I’m buying presents for (and what I got for each of them), groceries I need, what I signed up to bring for parties, and so much more! Whether you keep a paper list or utilize your technology to keep track of everything, lists will help things run more smoothly.
9. Let Go of Perfection
This is one of the most effective sanity-saving tips! Sometimes we can get so fixated on making the perfect holiday season that we miss the beauty in the imperfections. It’s okay to serve the sloppy cookies your kids decorated, have people over when your house is messy, or let your kids help you wrap the gifts. Don’t get so caught up in things being perfect that you forget to enjoy the moment.
10. Give Yourself (and others) Grace
Nobody’s perfect. Things are going to go wrong. People will hurt you or let you down (and you will do the same to others). Don’t let those struggles steal your peace and joy this holiday season. Extend grace. Forgive quickly. Love lavishly.
11. Be Present
Time flies too quickly, and you’ll never get this holiday season back again. Don’t get so caught up in everything that you forget to be present and enjoy each moment. Cherish today while you still can.
12. Set Healthy Boundaries with Family & Friends
This is always a challenge but also essential. Don’t be afraid to start a new tradition for your family or say no to extended family and friends. They may not understand or agree with your decision, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to do what is best for you and your family. Don’t run yourself ragged or burn yourself out trying to please everyone.
13. Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
Remember to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus this holiday season. Focus on gratitude and why we’re celebrating in the first place. With your mind on Jesus, your heart will always be at peace—and your life will be filled with joy even amid chaos, grief, or confusion. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) reminds us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I pray this holiday season is filled with wonderful new memories and boundless blessings!
Katie J Trent is the author of the book, Dishing Up Devotions: 36 Faith-Building Activities for Homeschooling Families (Whitaker House). She is also a popular blogger, speaker, homeschool mama, and a Pinterest drop-out with a messy house and happy kids—most of the time. Katie lives in Arizona with her husband James and their two children. For more resources to grow your faith, strengthen your family, and simplify your homeschool, visit KatieJTrent.com. Connect with Katie on Instagram @KatieJTrent.