♪ Jingle Bells, stress levels well, as Santa makes his way ♪
Sometimes the first few notes of a holiday carol can set off a chain reaction of panic as you visualize your mental to-do list: finish shopping and wrapping gifts, take the kids to have their picture taken with Santa, clean the house, plan the holiday menu, bake something for the neighbourhood cookie exchange…and you don’t even bake! Every year you promise to be more organized and start preparing for the holiday season earlier, but somehow time just escapes you.
Take a deep breath, and relax. There are shortcuts you can use to keep your stress levels manageable and still enjoy the holiday season with your family. Here are some ways to get started.
Why should you take on all the holiday planning and executing yourself? Usually everyone looks to mom when it comes to making the magic happen, but holding a family meeting and doling out tasks takes the stress out of you having to do everything. Everyone from the youngest to the oldest member of the family can contribute in some way. Delegate one person (or two depending how tall they are) to decorate the tree. Another can take on vacuuming duties for the month, another dusting and maybe someone else can help with wrapping gifts. Of course, everyone will want to be in on cookie baking, even if it is from a prepared mix!
Buying in Bulk
I swear this practice saves me from going crazy every holiday season. Starting in November, every time I go to the grocery store and pick up a food item that I use often, I double up on the quantity and store the other away in the freezer or cupboard. Chances are I’m going to run out of cheese, chicken or yams at some point, and usually it happens two days before Christmas when the grocery store is a mad house. I even double up on plastic wrap, laundry soap, toilet paper and other household items. Not only do I feel less stressed about running out of things, but spending a little more in November and December means I don’t spend as much in January as my wallet recovers from gift buying.
This is along the same line as bulk buying, but with meals. When I make a pot of stew, vegetarian chilli or even pumpkin oatmeal, I made a double batch and freeze the rest in meal-sized containers. With school concerts, holiday dance recitals and open houses taking up a lot of December evenings, it’s good to know that all I have to do is toss a salad, or roast some potatoes while my main dish is defrosting, and voilà! Dinner in minutes.
I find that my online versus mall shopping ratio has increased every year. In fact, as I write this at the end of November, my purchasing is complete except for some stocking stuffers. Online shopping takes next to no time and I usually buy enough to qualify for free shipping. Plus, I always take advantage of online sales that tend to pop up on weekends. Wouldn’t you rather shop from your laptop in a comfy chair with a steaming hot cup of tea instead of getting a migraine as you circle for a parking spot at a busy mall? Don’t even get me started on the line ups and the crowds inside.
Don’t Forget About Self Care
Take some time to get a manicure, pedicure, heck, even a massage if you can swing it. When your day is filled with planning and executing seasonal tasks, it’s important to take time out to recharge your batteries. If you work out regularly, try to stay on schedule and not miss any training sessions or classes. The more you stay committed to your fitness, the more you maintain some normalcy at a time when routines can easily go out the window.
Enforce a Preventative Health Practice
Make sure your family takes multivitamins daily to maintain a strong immune system, that your kids wash their hands regularly to deter the spread of viruses, and that everyone gets enough sleep to avoid getting run down and that the “crankies” don’t set in. Nothing’s worse than heading into a hectic holiday season with your kids whining and tantruming their way through, with runny noses or coughs on top of it. Keep a selection of natural remedies on hand to jump on illnesses the moment they present themselves.
Have Realistic Expectations
There’s no point in trying to live up to the picture perfect holiday you’ve created in your head. Sometimes no matter how much you effort you put into constructing those Instagram-worthy scenes, things don’t go as planned. The power might go out, the roast may end just a little overdone, a major snowstorm might keep guests from making the trek to your house. But that’s okay. Get out the candles, order pizza and reschedule your guests for another night. It’s the spontaneous and unexpected things that happen that make the best memories.
So do the best you can and let things unfold as they will. Be thankful for the year’s blessings and look forward to what the new year will bring!