DeStressing the Holidays

Do you feel it yet? The decorations are already in stores, the music has begun to play. Do you already feel behind for Christmas? Has the Christmas train started in your head? Chugging and chugging. You know it will just gain momentum and speed until December 25, leaving you breathless, exhausted and not one bit merry.

I believe you can have a holiday season with less stress.

I will say it again.

I believe you can have a holiday season with less stress. Yes, I believe that for you tired mom who doesn't have any energy Yes, I believe that for you mom with a newborn Yes, I believe that for you mom of two under 3 in the thick of diapers and potty training.

During this time of year we can hear all the great messages of peace, joy, love and hope but by December 31 feel like all we experienced over the past two months were stress, added stress, extra stress and more stress.

Over the next 8 weeks we are going to walk through this holiday season. Each week I will have one simple idea to destress this holiday. One practice to focus on each week.

I really believe you can move through the holidays with less stress. Let's do this together!

This week we are going to focus on Creating a Yes and No List.

This is not to be confused with a to-do list. This is not a list of things for you to do.

This is a practice of looking at what what is most important this holiday season.

Naming your priorities for just this year, just this holiday. Not every year, not holidays for the next 5 years.

What is most important this holiday season.

And then create two lists 1. Yes List - what will you say yes to this holiday season? 2. No List - what will you say no to this holiday season?

You may be thinking - what kinds of things do we put on these lists?

The most basic way to think about these lists is to put on paper how you will spend your time this holiday. For instance, if you have a newborn a lot of time will be spent feeding the baby. This is a reality for you. So on your Yes list might be keeping my baby fed, and on your No list might be hosting Christmas dinner.

On your Yes list could include meaningful traditions in your family. In our family we make lefse every year and just before Christmas a gingerbread train. Last year we went to a tree farm not too far from our house and cut down our tree. It was a really special day for us and we decided this will be a new tradition for us. This is on our Yes List. When my husband and I first got married we wanted a way to set up the Christmas decorations slowly, so we came up with a progression of color and decorations each week of advent. We start with greens the first week, add lights the second week and add red the third week. It is a progression of color and light and we like how gradual it is. This is on our Yes List. I know many people have a wonderful tradition of putting up their tree and Christmas decorations the day or weekend after Thanksgiving. All of our lists will look different in terms of what is meaningful to us over the holidays.

The year I had a newborn and a two year old and we were traveling for Christmas I said no to decorating. We got a small table top tree and put a few ornaments on it. We may have put up one or two other decorations around the house, but those Christmas decor boxes stayed in the garage. We still had a great adventure and memory going to pick out our tree. My two year old loved decorating that little tree (it was the perfect size for him). I still said yes to memory making, but I said no to decorating the entire house. At first I was sad, but in the end I was really grateful. Saying no that year reduced stress. I knew the next year would be different, but for that year it was best not to decorate the whole house.

Before I had kids I loved doing all my Christmas shopping by going to stores in person. It was enjoyable for me to spend a day or part of a day with my list and searching for a great gift for each person. With young kids that is just not as realistic. The last couple years I have had to say no to doing all my shopping in stores, even though it used to be an enjoyable part of the holidays for me. For right now that needs to be on my no list. I still shop in stores for part of my Christmas shopping but I do most of it online now.

What do you currently have on your holiday to-do list that could be a No this year because of the season of life you are in? We do not need to say Yes to every invitation, every great idea, every extra task.

What is most important to you and your family this year for the holidays? That is on your YES list.

What can you let go of this year because it will just add more stress? That is on your NO list.

As you think about your yes and no list, I want to remind you of a few things:

- your home does not need to look like Pinterest - you do not need to do a new activity every day of December for your kids to have a meaningful holiday - not every decoration needs to be up by December 1 for your home to have holiday cheer (unless of course you have a special tradition of putting up all the decorations right after Thanksgiving or if this truly is important to you and its on your Yes List!)

Putting on paper what is most important to you and your family this holiday will give focus to this time. Putting on paper what doesn't need to be in your mind or what you don't need to spend time on this holiday will reduce stress for you and your family. Come back next week for part 2 of this series when we talk about what to do next with our Yes List.

Creating your Yes and No List can be simple and fun! I have created lists for you! Grab your printable below!

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