It pains me to see moms running around frazzled and stressed out because they’re trying to fit every holiday activity into one short season. We all grow up with family traditions that we love (or feel obligated) to carry on. Combine that with the ones added to the mix by your partner plus the ones you just picked up along the way in your adult life.

What we end up with are so many activities packed into such a short amount of time that we can’t enjoy any of them. We either don’t get through all of them and feel like a failure or get through all of them and not even take time to breathe.

Don’t be anxious. The holidays don’t have to be stressful and a long stream of events, leaving you exhausted and burnt out in the new year. Here is a simple, 4-step process to help you focus on the holiday activities that bring the most meaning and value to your life and the lives of your kids.

How to make room for the most important holiday activities

  1. Take some time to sit down and think back through your childhood. What are the traditions you want to continue with your kids? Write them down. Don’t forget to ask your spouse!
  2. Pick out the activities that would make your heart ache if you didn’t get to do them this year. I’m talking about the ones that are so much fun or carry so much meaning that you’d be heartbroken if it was taken away from you.
  3. Figure out roughly how much time each activity would take. (Then double or triple it. Because we all know that a trip out with kids takes double or triple the time we think it will.)
  4. Look at your calendar. How much time do you have available?
  5. You may have to cut some activities. If you want to do four activities that take up a total of 20 hours but you only have one weekend available, something’s gotta give (and don’t let it be your sanity).

My holiday activities this year

I decided that the activities that are most important to me are doing an advent calendar (10 minutes to find and print it out, 5 minutes every morning), putting up the Christmas tree (2 hours) and buying and watching some holiday classics (1 hour shopping online, 3 hours total to watch, spread out over a couple of days).

That’s not a whole lot of time, and it’s definitely doable. There are many things I dropped to be able to make room for what’s important to me (baking cookies, doing holiday crafts, spending lots of time shopping and researching gifts).

Here’s the thing…

This seems to be a secret that we all know but we all forget: you can always add more. Let’s say the stars align and the weather is great and your toddler finds his shoes and puts his coat on without a meltdown. You have a glorious weekend filled with all of your favorite holiday activities. What now? You can always go back to your master list and plan a few more.

Let yourself be the rockstar. Let yourself plan a few activities and be the cool and calm mom you are while creating memories for both you and your kids. Give yourself the gift of fully being present in your child’s life as their eyes get wide in excitement. Take pictures (both with your camera and with your mind). Put them in a safe place to recall when times get tough or when babies grow up.

You can always add more.

Action Steps

  1. Write a list of activities you’d like to do.
  2. Pick the best ones.
  3. Estimate the time (then double it).
  4. Look at your calendar to see if they fit.
  5. Cull if necessary. (Remember: You can always add more later.)

What are your favorite holiday activities and traditions? What are the important ones you’re prioritizing this year?

2 comments on “Save time (and your sanity) on holiday activities”

  1. This is great! My husband and I will be celebrating our first Christmas this year as a family of three. Our daughter is currently 8 months old. We have been talking a lot about what traditions we would like to continue from our childhood, as well as, what knew ones we would like to start as a family.

    Your list gave me some good ideas about how to plan to make the most of the season!

    • Awesome! Now is the time to discuss which traditions to keep (before your daughter gets attached to a tradition that you don’t like). I was thinking about starting the elf on the shelf this year, until I read a few posts from moms who regretted it because of how much work it takes. o_O Have fun with your daughter’s first Christmas! So exciting!! It’s so much fun to create the wonderment and magic of Christmas for little ones. Love your blog!

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