It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is right around the corner. How are you doing? Are you starting to feel panicky?
If so, and especially if the holidays often feel stressful to you, consider focusing your time and energy on just 6 things this year – 6 family Christmas gifts that will transform your life during the busiest time of the year.
If you do, I can almost guarantee that these gifts will reduce your stress level over the next few weeks and bring you more joy than anything you’ll buy in a store.
Here are the 6 family Christmas gifts you need to give to yourself and your family this year:
• Give yourself and your husband the gift of deciding. Instead of just letting things happen, talk with your husband and decide what the holidays should look like for your family.
Don’t let the next few weeks fly by in a whirl of activity – much of it stuff you really don’t want to do! Instead, make a plan and be intentional about creating the kind of holiday season you really want.
If you aren’t sure how to get started, check out 5 Ways to Take the Crazy Out of Christmas. This article lays out five simple steps you and your husband can take to decide on the kind of holiday season you want and then make it happen.
• Give your children the gift of a mother who can relax and enjoy the season. Your children don’t care if everything is perfect; they want the time and attention of a mother who is relaxed and happy. So let go of some things and enjoy your children’s Christmas.
You don’t have to do everything. And you don’t have to buy perfect gifts, find perfect clothing, create perfect decorations – or anything else that involves the word “perfect!” Your kids don’t care about those things (OK, maybe they want the perfect gift!), and if you really think about it, you probably don’t either.
When our children were young, for example, I often stayed out of the Christmas dinner preparations (even though they were taking place in my kitchen!) and let my mom and sisters who didn’t have children do the bulk of the work. I felt guilty, but thought that enjoying our children on Christmas day was more important than spending the day in the kitchen.
And my friend Christina at Juggling Real Food and Real Life has established an Advent book and reading tradition in her family that allows her to spend time relaxing with her children every evening of Advent. It’s fantastic – I wish I had known about it when our boys were young enough to enjoy it!
• Give your husband the gift of your time and presence. Christmas preparations will grab all of your time and energy if you let them, and your husband may feel like he’s been pushed to the side. So make plans a couple of times a week to do something fun or just enjoy spending time together.
For example, do some Christmas errands together and turn them into a date, like doing some shopping for the kids and then going out for coffee or dessert. Or do something fun or relaxing that has nothing to do with the season (sometime you just need a break from it!).
If you can’t get out of the house, put the kids to bed and watch a Christmas movie or another favorite movie. And be sure to make time for sex, remembering that sex is about you too, not just your husband, and that it can be exactly the stress reducer you need!
• Give yourself the gift of “enough.” At some point in the season (long before December 24!) decide that you have done enough, bought enough, planned enough, and prepared enough. Yes, some things will still need to be done, but at some point you need to start “gearing down” on preparations and “gearing up” on enjoyment.
Because, as we all know (but somehow struggle to remember), everything doesn’t have to be perfect. As a matter of fact, everyone in the family will enjoy the season more if things aren’t perfect.
• Give your family the gift of outdoor activity. Everyone needs exercise, so why not make it fun? Go outside almost every day as a family and walk, bike, hike, skate, sled, play soccer – whatever makes sense in your part of the country. The kids will burn off energy, you’ll burn calories and reduce stress, and everyone will feel more relaxed.
• Give yourself the gift of relaxation. Don’t work yourself into a state of exhaustion every day, then collapse into bed every night! Take time at least every other day to do something that really relaxes you. Take a long bath, read a book, take a walk, drink a glass of wine, watch a Christmas movie, or have a cup of coffee with a friend. And be sure to do at least one simple thing to take care of your health every day.
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