Staying Sane During the Holidays

To do lists can be overwhelming, sometimes you need to relax and seize the moment.

The stores are alive with the glittery, sparkly beacons of Christmas. Carols hum through the speakers, adding a jolly skip to the step of the shoppers. Can you feel it? Holiday is in the air.

I love this time of year. At the same time, the busier calendar and the growing to-do list can easily weigh me down and suck the joy – and the meaning – out of the holidays. I love this time of year so much. Sometimes, I overextend myself.

This year was especially challenging. It’s Christmas night and I just finished stamping my last holiday card, which will go into the mail tomorrow. I simply didn’t have it together this year. And I wasn’t alone.

My mom was feeling the pressure on Christmas Eve getting her house and gifts organized before our families came together. “Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving was so late this year,” my mom said as we were talking that afternoon. For me, my six-week-old son just wanted to be held. So I dug up my front carrier and he was outward facing as I feverishly wrapped gifts. That night at my parents everyone noticed the glitter on his head, saw the bags under my eyes and knew I was exhausted. “I’m not even ahead of the game; it’s more like im playing catch up,” I said.

To top it off, my husband was in bed sick for five days with the flu. He started his holiday shopping at 1pm on Christmas Eve. I could see the panic in his eyes. He called me while he was racing back so we could make it in time to Christmas Eve mass saying that it didn’t feel like Christmas to him. Low on time and patience, I soon find myself frustrated and bitter over ruined plans.

If I don’t watch my back, and my time, ’tis the season to be jolly can turn into ’tis the reason to be grumpy. It’s not pretty.

In the middle of my to and fro and bicker and grump, I sometimes wonder if I’m doing it right. Am I missing something? Here’s the thing we have to remember, sweet moms…there is no one ‘right’ way. Rather, time is key.

When I’m low on time, running late and overbooked – the time crunch leads to stress and craziness. When I spend my time on the wrong sorts of things, make unwise decisions, procrastinate or waste time, I feel overwhelmed.

One stressed out Crazy Mom.

Three Tips I learned To Stay Sane During the Holidays

  1. Don’t fill up the calendar.
  2. Don’t focus on the ‘stuff.’
  3. Plan as if you were organizing a major event.

Next year, I’ll tackle the holidays as if it were my wedding, planning six to eight weeks in advance so I can enjoy baking cookies with my kids, taking them to a holiday play and sitting on the couch watching holiday specials on TV. With so many fun things going on to do with your kids, it can be easy to say yes to everything.

Next year will be different. I’ll be sure to get plenty of rest, because I’ll be better organized and head into the holidays realizing that raising five kids and juggling a business is not easy. I’ll remind myself that It doesn’t matter if you forget to do a Christmas craft, if you have to separate squabbling kids in the middle of church, if you have many presents under the tree or if you have great decorations. What matters is the time. The time we spend with our family, our kids, and serving others. And yes, taking time for ourselves…time to refuel, refocus and reorient. Yes, time is, indeed, a very key factor.

This holiday season, let’s make sure that we make enough time for ourselves that we don’t go crazy, shall we? Here is to 2014 and my New Years instead of holiday cards for 2013.

Christine Bachman

About Christine Bachman

Christine Bachman is founder and president of Plan It PR, a public relations and marketing firm. The mother of five shares tips and survival stories in “Play Dates and Power Lunches.” Ms. Bachman started working public relations after a long career in broadcast journalism, which included work as a television anchor, reporter and producer.