The attic door creaks loudly as it drops and the ladder squeaks at it extends out into the hallway. The smell of hot cider wafts into my childhood bedroom and Christmas music plays softly.
Goosbumps prickle on my arm and a grin spreads across my face. It’s the day after Thanksgiving and my Mother is up early to start the Christmas decorating.
This is one memory that will be forever imprinted into my soul.
My Mother loved Christmas…and so did I.
She made December a magical time filled with sweet treats, fun holiday adventures, and glorious decorations. All of my favorite childhood memories take place in December.
As a grew into an adult and now a Mom, December has lost some of its sparkle.
Don’t get me wrong I still love Christmas, but now it’s more than just treats, Santa, and magical expectations.
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December is filled with shopping, wrapping, gingerbread houses, cookies from scratch, advent calendars, Christmas cards, handmade ornaments, holiday gift exchanges…
And the list goes on and on and on.
I love December, but it can be overwhelming, even for the most Zen-Mama.
Over the years, I’ve been learning to live a slower life with less stress and overwhelm. I think I do pretty good, then December hits and I feel out of sync again.
So, as soon as Thanksgiving is over and I’m thrust into a December of “cheer”, I have to make a plan on how to get through the holidays with less chaos and more joy.
Last year was my first year implementing some of these strategies, and it was the best December I’ve had since becoming a Mom.
So here’s my reminder to myself and some tips to help you
Take the Chaos Out of Christmas.
Begin Your Day Well
It’s important, especially this time of year, to begin your day well.
I prefer a slow wake-up, with hot coffee and quiet, but there was a stage in my life when my day started by being jolted awake by little boys.
Having my senses assaulted by loud boisterous children first thing in the morning did not get my day started off on the right foot. I’d wake up crabby, frustrated, and irritable.
So, I took the course Makeover Your Mornings and it changed not only my mornings but my entire day.
I’m so grateful that I took the course, especially during the holidays.
It’s a stressful time of year, but I’m able to cope with it better because I’ve learned how to start my days off on the right foot.
No more stressed out Mom, no more yelling and crankiness first thing in the morning.
You’re busy and overwhelmed. So start your day off right, so you can conquer it and be mentally ready for whatever gets thrown your way.
Remember What’s Important
There’s a lot going on during the holidays, and there always will be.
There will always be a list of gifts that need to be bought, wrapped, and possibly shipped.
There will always be holiday events that you want to and need to attend.
It’s easy to get lost in the hub-bub that you forget what the important things are.
In order to not lose yourself in the chaos, it’s important to stay focused on what matters most.
For me, it’s family. It might be something different for you. Maybe it’s religion or charity.
Take some time and figure out what your most important thing is, then use that important thing to make decisions about your time and money.
Yes, I’ll happily take my family on The Polar Express Holiday Train this year because it’s something we’ll all enjoy, and it helps bring us closer.
No, I won’t volunteer to plan and decorate the annual Holiday Party because it takes a lot of time away from my family.
My family is my barometer. My family is my focus.
What is yours?
Fill Your Days With The Best “Yes”
“If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no”
This has been a statement that I’ve used throughout my entire year.
Well…this doesn’t apply to “must have’s” like laundry, dishes, cooking, etc., but anything that goes above and beyond what I have to do, I remind myself that “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no.”
This helps me fill my days with things that bring me joy and happiness, instead of unfulfilling tasks that stress me out.
With the holidays upon me, I have to remember this quote and to use it every day.
This is the time of year where everyone wants you to donate, volunteer, host, and attend a bazillion events. Our schedules and to-do lists get overwhelming.
So this year, I’m all about finding ways to make holiday chores easier. I enjoy wrapping presents, baking cookies, and entertaining. Those are my “hell yes’s”
What don’t I like? Addressing Christmas Cards.
I love creating them online, but the second they hit my mailbox I dread addressing, licking, and stamping all those envelopes.
So, I stopped doing it and found a service that would. Postable.
This year, I created our Christmas Card online, uploaded my address book, and Postable made them and mailed them for me. How amazing is that?
I was so impressed with Postable, that I reached out to them to say thanks. Once they found out I was a blogger, they offered a discount to all my readers. How awesome is that?!
Just go to Postable and use the coupon code DIRTANDBOOGERS to get 15% off your entire order.
If addressing Holiday Cards is a “heck no!” for you, try this service. I promise you’ll love it.
Count your blessings
This is the most wonderful time of the year….right?!
Well, yes and no.
It is filled with excitement, joy, and surprise, but it’s also stressful.
Keeping a daily gratitude journal helps me stay grateful for the good things in my life, especially during times when the good things get lost among my to do list.
It’s easy to remember all the things on my holiday checklist and to focus on our stress levels and the negative things about this time of year.
But how often do you pause and recognize how blessed you are?
I’ve worked hard at infusing my life with gratitude. Every day, I try to find three things that bring me happiness.
When I’m feeling frustrated, I pause and find something (anything) to be grateful for.
A practice of gratitude helps me not get so lost in the hustle and bustle. It fills my soul with joy and I feel happier throughout my day.
Gratitude keeps the negativity away.
Gratitude keeps me from becoming the Grinch.
Take the Chaos Out of Christmas
“I’d like to just enjoy the holidays with my family without the drama! It feels like we’re rushing from one thing to another without taking the time to relax. Then, I end up mad and yelling because the holidays aren’t turning out the way I expected. It’s always a letdown.”
We all want a great holiday with our family, but we end up being let down in the end.
It’s time to bring the joy back into the season!
Check out my eBook Take the Chaos Out of Christmas and learn how to create a joyful holiday without losing your cool.
It’s packed full of tips to keep you calm and focused on what really matters.