Stress Free Holiday Tips for Mom

Stress Free Holiday Tips for Mom

It seems like every year, everyone is searching for the best stress free holiday tips to stay sane during the impending hustle and bustle. Having a perfectly stress free holiday is always the goal. Am I right? I know it is for me. November and December are a busy time for our family. Four out of five of us have birthdays in November. My husband and my anniversary is in November, and of course, there is Thanksgiving. Then comes December. My husband is a pastor, which means lot of extra commitments on his schedule. Furthermore, the kids are off schedule because of school breaks. All of these things are outside of my control. I have had lot of opportunities to practice the art of giving myself grace and letting go during this season. But, like everyone else, I also want the holidays to be filled with peace, wonder, and awe. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and I want to slow down and enjoy the magic too. So, how do we accomplish both? How do we meet our commitments well without getting completely stressed out? Well, here are my practical and easy stress free holiday tips that you can actually accomplish this year.

Write It All Down

If you’re like me, there are so many things that you want to accomplish during the holidays. Not only are there outside obligations and commitments, but there are family activities and traditions to participate in as well. My tip is write every single thing down. Make a list of all the things you hope to do during this season. Then, transfer everything to your calendar. Schedule everything – the big and small things. For example, every year we make homemade gingerbread houses and cookies, and we have a little decorating party with the kids. I need to make sure I plan which night we want to do this. Otherwise before I know it, it’s the week of Christmas, and I will be frantically trying to squeeze in the tradition last minute.

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Do What Brings You Joy

Speaking of that list you made. You have permission to cross of things that do not bring you joy. If the last couple of years taught us anything, it is that life is too short to spend time doing things that rob you of your joy. This year, I know I do not have the capacity to do a daily advent activity and devotion with my children. As a homeschooling pastor’s wife, this feels almost sacrilegious! But I know it is not. We will experience the glory and birth of our Savior in other ways that fill all of us with joy instead of feeling cumbersome. I know that we will not be able to attend every single event our city offers. However, I do know that what we do choose to do, we will do it wholeheartedly. So my friend, it is okay to do less when that means you can do it well. If you’re interested in reading more about editing your to do list, you can read my post from last year here.

Make Peace with Clutter

Clutter. Oh the clutter! This is a big one for me, so I am especially preaching to myself here. There is going to be extra things in your environment during the holidays. There are decorations, crafts, baking, and so on. We need to keep our expectations for a perfectly clean house in check. I can get visually overstimulated when there is random stuff every place my eyes land. Then, it feels like the wall are closing in on me. I know this about myself. To help mitigate this, I carefully consider what and how many decorations I put out each year. I also make sure there are areas in a room that my eyes can go to and rest. Maybe it’s leaving a corner of the living room without decorations, or maybe it’s taking some pieces of furniture out of the room before adding in any more decor. Also, because my kids are in the “toy years,” I make sure all the toys are picked up and put away at the end of the day. This is a habit I already have, but it is even more important to achieve a stress free holiday season.

Have a Wrapping Party

This is my favorite stress free holiday tip! Wrapping presents can feel like a chore all too often. Instead of thinking of it as yet another thing to check off the list, make it a party. After the kids are in bed, open up a great bottle of wine. Make a scrumptious snack (I know you’ll be doing some great holiday baking!), then put on a cheesy, feel good Hallmark movie. Boom! Your chore is now a party. I usually do this twice during the holidays. Once to wrap friends and family’s gifts that go under the tree. Then again on Christmas Eve because, you know *wink*.

There you have it! My stress free holiday tips that you can actually accomplish this year. What do you do to manage your expectations during the holidays? Tell me about it in the comments below. If you enjoyed these tips, please share this with your friends and join my email list for extra goodies.

What I’ve Learned Using Social Media App Timers

What I’ve Learned Using Social Media App Timers

Intentionally Well: Striving for Present Intentionality Every Day

I have been using social media app timers on my phone for about four months. And let me tell you, I have learned some things about myself. Let me first start off admitting that everything that was 2020 had a negative impact on my relationship with my phone. I will be transparent and tell you that scrolling and zoning out on social media became a coping mechanism for all the hard things. This became my escape because I had cultivated my social media to be an uplifting space. In theory, this was a good thing. We all needed some sort of way to deal with the stress we were all experiencing. The problem was when I was ready to scale my consumption back, I struggled.

When Scrolling Became a Problem

I can’t say there was a singular moment when I realized I was relying too much on my phone. It was a slow build up. But one day I had this awareness that I was missing it. My real life, my days, were passing me by. Honestly, friend, I think we all have those realizations from time to time. It is so easy to become engrossed in what is happening on our phone, and we get these little gut checks that tell us we need to scale back. I had the gut check, but I had a really difficult time breaking the muscle memory habits I formed. It was hard for my brain to just be. I felt all squirmy when I tried to let my mind be still and quiet. I realized my brain was constantly craving some sort of stimulation from my phone. That was when I realized my phone was a problem. Was I actually addicted to my phone? The definition of addiction is as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain. It is both a complex brain disorder and a mental illness. Here is an article published by CNN about phone addiction.

Implementing Social Media App Timers

No. Based off the clinical definition of addiction, I was not addicted to my phone. However, I wanted to break the habits I had formed around it. Enter app timers! Did you know this was a feature on your iPhone? I honestly didn’t until I started researching them. However, there they are. To find the app timers on your iPhone go to Settings>Screen Time>App Limits>Add Limit. From there, you can choose which apps you would like to limit your time on, for how long, and what days you’d like to have the limits. I decided to use these timers on my social media and news apps. I am sure other phone companies have this feature, so feel free to let google tell you how to access them if you do not have an iPhone.

What I learned

Every day I get the pop ups saying I reached my limit. And let me tell you, there are still days where I override my app timers. I do this for different reasons. Sometimes, especially with Instagram, my time is spent promoting this space or engaging with my community there. I don’t feel like that needs to be lumped together with the unhealthy scrolling habit I am trying to break. Sometimes I override the limit at the end of the day when I just want a little extra time to laugh at funny Tik Toks. However, many days I do stick to my goals. Regardless if I override the app timers or not, having them in place brings so much more awareness to my phone consumption. Do I need to check the news 4 times a day? No, I don’t, and I am better for it. Is it easier for me to leave my phone in another room? Yes, it is. That is something I am really proud of because that used to be a struggle. I am still a work in progress, but I am making progress. And that is something to celebrate.

What do you think? Do you have a healthy relationship with your phone? Let’s chat about it in the comments below. As always, if you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends.