As a mom, I realize that making holiday memories is on the “Must Do” list. In fact, I torture myself by creating Pinterest Boards and reading blogs devoted to the holidays. However, I am one of many people who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder. This disorder starts working its way into my moods just a touch after Halloween when holiday shopping and seasons greetings become the all encompassing focus of moms everywhere.
So how do I, a holiday-hating parent, still create memories for my child without inducing anxiety?
Take It Easy
Too often, we compare our efforts to others (read: Pinterest boards….). Instead, focus on keeping things as easy as possible.
Want to make Christmas Cookies? Buy a mix or pre-packaged dough. That way, you can focus on decorating or just eating them after 20 minutes in the oven. Will your kiddos criticize you for using pre-packaged mix or will they be enthralled with decorating them to care how they were made? Cookie Dough + Canned Frosting + Sprinkles = so.much.fun.
Want to decorate your house? Forget extravagant displays and opt for just the Christmas tree. Your kids will still enjoy decorating the tree, and plugging it in nightly. Purchase a small 2 ft. tree for each kiddos to decorate themselves, if setting up a full tree is too much.
Trying to find the “best” gift to give? Opt for gift cards to stores, restaurants or experiences that your recipient will enjoy. Remember, its the thought that counts.
Find ways to minimize the stress while still being “present” in the holiday spirit.
You can still create memories, even if you take shortcuts.
Ask for Help
Oh boy – this one is a hard one to swallow for many people (myself included). Don’t be too prideful to ask for help. Have a friend or family member who enjoys the holidays? Ask them to help you with various tasks: home decor, baking, or attending holiday events on your behalf. Sometimes the effort is just too much for you, but for your friend or family member, they may gladly pitch in to help you make memories for your kiddos.
My mom is a great example of this. She borrows Mini Me to help her decorate her house (inside and out) for the holidays. It gives my daughter an opportunity to enjoy the holidays, while I don’t have additional stress of organizing the festivities.
Its OK to ask for help, and even better, more people can enjoy the holiday spirit with you.
Choose to Not Participate
Who says you have to do every holiday activity asked of you? You don’t have to attend 3 music concerts, 4 holiday parties, and 2 holiday “feasts” at school all in the span of 2 weeks. Instead, prioritize which activities are most important to you and your children. Ask them which concert is most important for you to attend. Give yourself permission to only attend 1 holiday party (the one with the most obligation or frankly, most fun).
Its perfectly OK to say “no, thank you,” to invitations.
By focusing on events that matter the most, you can create better memories.
Change the Pace
If the holidays really get you down, change the pace up. Go out of town for the holidays (on vacation) or choose to stay home when you normally visit relatives.
You have the choice to participate or not (see above), so if your relatives stress you out even more, choose to see them another time in the year. Spring Break is a great time when the weather is better and you have less stress on your shoulders.
If celebrating the actual holiday is too much, get out of town. Grab a condo in the mountains and enjoy peace and quiet. Find a beach somewhere and book a hotel nearby.
One of our best holidays was last year, when we spent the week in San Diego. We were able to go to Sea World on the 25th and the crowds were milder than usual. Then, we chased sunsets on Coronado Island in the evenings. I didn’t worry about opening gifts, cooking a big meal, or dealing with shopping crowds. Instead, we focused on us, as a family, and just enjoying our time together. As a family, we agreed these were great memories made, and my daughter often says, “Remember when we…” in regards to this particular vacation.
Changing the pace can lead to great memories made, even if they aren’t “traditional” memories of holidays.
Many who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, benefit from the sunlight. But when you are stuck indoors all day (thank you work), or can’t enjoy activities because its too dark, it can create additional anxiety and strain.
Take time outside, everyday.
Even if it is -10 degrees outside, find a way to enjoy the daylight (ice skating, snowball fight, or walking around the block).
If you still aren’t getting enough sun, I recommend a “blue light.” These lights simulate natural daylight and are proven to be mood enhancers. Who knew you could increase your mood just by having a light in your peripheral vision?
Give yourself time to breathe. Instead of running sixty miles a minute, take time to slow down. Remember: the holidays are supposed to be a time of joy. But if you are miserable because of over commitments, striving to be perfect, or stressing out over matters you can’t control, you will continue to suffer from the seasonal blues.
Your kiddos will appreciate you making an effort, even if you aren’t the “Pinterest Perfect Mom” who DIYs teacher gifts and has an extravagant holiday display.
Do you suffer from the seasonal blues? How do you combat these feelings so your family can enjoy the holidays? I would LOVE to hear what your tips are – leave a comment below!