In addition to the family and friends that visit this time of year, many of us have another regular houseguest…  and his name is Holiday Stress.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  So why do we feel so damn tired?

I’ll tell you why… it’s because making Christmas magic is exhausting! 

Between the gift-giving, the kid wrangling, the cooking, the decorating, the gift wrapping…it’s enough to make any mom feel overwhelmed.

And all this is all in ADDITION to the heavy workload we carry the other eleven months of the year.

Just because it’s Christmas, doesn’t mean we get to abandon our normal to-do lists.

Despite making great strides in education over the last 20 years, women on average still do twice as much housework and child-care as men.

This holds true even if they work full-time jobs.

Women also perform the bulk of emotional labor in a family. This is the unpaid, mostly unnoticed work women do to keep everyone comfortable and happy.

During the holidays this unequal division of labor goes into overdrive. People expect Christmas to be magic, and moms are the ones responsible for making that magic happen.


Holiday stress is real, and it’s killing us.


But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are things you can do to downsize Christmas expectations, manage emotional labor, and practice a little self care this time of year.  

We’ve got the holiday stress management tips every mom needs to put the “Merry” back into Christmas.


Let Go Of Christmas Perfectionism

This will be the Best…Christmas…Ever!  

If you find yourself saying something similar, consider it a red flag Santa warning.  

Perfectionism is rough any time of the year, but during the holidays it can really cause emotional havoc.

You’re setting yourself up for a fail by setting unrealistic expectations for yourself and those around you.

Who can possibly live up to the hype?

You guessed it, no one.


Putting pressure on yourself to create the “perfect holiday” can send your stress level, not to mention your blood pressure, skyrocketing.


And a big chunk of the work and stress we take on during the holidays is actually self imposed.

So my first bit of holiday stress relief advice is do just a few things well.  Cut yourself a break!  

Look around and see what traditions are the most important to your family.

Is it decorating the tree? Baking cookies?  A holiday movie marathon?

Great! Do that one thing well and let the other stuff slide.

Nobody is going to care if you decorate just your living room instead of the entire house. Or if you don’t bother putting lights up outside this year.

Hell, I won’t tell if you bring store-bought cookies to that holiday party instead of homemade.

Give yourself a break and take a few shortcuts.

If just thinking about a particular holiday “obligation” gets you stressed out, skip it. You have my permission.

It’ll make the few holiday events that you do that much more special for the entire family.


5 Tips For Holiday Stress Relief


1. Control Runaway Shopping

Another source of serious holiday stress is runaway gift shopping.

You can spend way too much time trying to track down the “perfect” gift for everyone, or go nuts on Amazon and spend way too much money.

Either way, you end up with a shopping stress hangover that is so not in line with the spirit of Christmas.

The first step to get a handle on shopping gone wild is to recognize that the holidays are about family, kindness, and fun…NOT gifts.

Sit down with your partner and decide spending limits ahead of time, then stick to them!

AND yes, we said sit down with your partner because getting him involved helps distribute the emotional labor load.


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Make a list of what you’re getting everyone, then divide and conquer. Guys can shop too!

Particularly if they are handed a list with exact items on it. Don’t do it all yourself.

Finally, remember…online shopping is your friend. Look for sites that offer additional discounts and cash-back on your purchases so you can stick to your budget.

If you need to buy toys for the kiddos, we’ve already done the legwork for you. Check out Our Picks to see our curated “best of” lists in every toy category.


2. Avoid Family Drama

Another source of holiday stress is family drama.

Where are you going to spend the holidays? With whom? What about that one particular relative that makes everything so difficult?

Here’s another area where you want to get your partner involved. Decide ahead of time where you want to spend the holidays.

This way, when the invitations start arriving, you can present a united front.

You know what else? You don’t have to see everyone during the holiday season.

It’s okay to skip parties and get-togethers that stress you out. Or to not see a relative that makes you feel horrible every time you do.

A graceful “I’m sorry, we can’t make it this year” can be a huge holiday stress relief.


3. Practice Self Care

Moms are often guilty of NOT doing this!

But remember what flight attendants always say…you have to put on your own oxygen mask first before you can help others.

This could not be more true than around the holidays!

Don’t forget that you’re a person who needs a little downtime so you don’t lose your mind. 

We moms have been hardwired to think that taking me-time is selfish. It isn’t.

Just like in the oxygen mask scenario, you need time to recharge your own batteries so you have the energy to take care of everyone else.


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Ask a trusted friend to watch the kids, or hire a nanny! There are reputable services out there like Nannie4Hire that do comprehensive background checks and help you find the perfect person to help with childcare.

Then ENJOY that me time. Get out with your girlfriends. Retreat to a coffee shop and read a book. Spend a few hours at a spa.

You’ll feel the holiday stress melt away and you’ll have the energy you need to make magic with your family.

Holiday stress
Getty Images


4. Don’t Forget You’re A Couple

Holiday stress doesn’t just take a toll on you, it can take a toll on your relationships as well.

During this busy season a lot of us forget to do normal couple things.

What do I mean by “normal” couple things?

Here’s what I DON’T mean; kid’s Christmas pageants, gift shopping, obligatory office parties, caroling, decorating… these are NOT DATES people!

If all you do is run around taking are of to-do list items, you’re not really connecting with your partner.

Come January you may find your relationship feels strained or cold. Don’t let that happen!


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Plan weekly talk time and parents’ date nights. Take time to check in with each other and just be in the same space without distractions.

It doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to be the two of you.

You’ll find you’re less apt to snap at one another (a common holiday relationship complaint).

Plus, come January, you won’t feel like you’ve drifted apart. You’ll still be on the same page.


5. Ditch Perfect And Enjoy

A survey by the American Psychological Association found that more women than men feel stressed at Christmas, and have a harder time relaxing and enjoying the season. Which pretty much defeats the whole point.

Don’t be that mom! Thank about which family traditions really matter and let the rest go.

Once you realize you’re not responsible for making Christmas magic for everyone, it’ll free up headspace so you can think about other things.

Tell your inner critic to take a hike, and you’ll go from Merry Stress-mas, back to Merry Christmas.


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