By TMoM Team Member Anna Keller

Let’s face it: As moms, this time of year is joyful AND very overwhelming. Decking the halls, buying AND wrapping the gifts under the tree, coordinating the festive outings, planning holiday travel, baking the delicious cookies and traditional meals your family loves this time of year – most of that tends to fall on our shoulders.

And while so much of it is beautiful, stress can creep into the mix in a BIG way if we aren’t careful. With that in mind, I want to share a few things moms can do preemptively to minimize that stress during this season.

Pare things down.

This can include gifts as well as things like holiday décor.

Now, if you’re someone who gets a lot of energy from decorating your house to the nines, by all means – go for it! But if you’re someone like me, who feels depleted by that task but still wants some element of festivity to enter your home, don’t feel the need to go big with the decorations.

When it comes to gifts, I’ve experienced such lightness from minimizing gift giving during Christmas. We get gifts for our children, our parents, and our niece and nephew, but as far as exchanging gifts between adult siblings we’ve cut that out. It feels so good, especially knowing we all have plenty of stuff! We’ve even put some helpful guardrails around gifts for our kids (ages 5 and 20 months). Santa brings each child four gifts (plus stocking stuffers):

1. Something you want
2. Something you need
3. Something to wear
4. Something to read

That’s helped me not go overboard with the Santa gift buying, and I think it helps our kids from being too overwhelmed with gifts on Christmas morning, too.

Take a note from Santa and make a list – then check it twice!

When my husband, Kevin, and I got married, our caterer gave us a wonderful piece of advice: Write a script for the wedding day. In performing this exercise, we thought through every minute of the day and also were able to fill in any gaps: If we wanted the bridesmaids’ flowers to be distributed at noon, for example, who was going to make sure that happened? As a result, we were able to troubleshoot well in advance, making the day of both smooth and stress free.

Try doing the same thing for this season. Capture everything you want and need to accomplish, and then think through when and how you’ll get to those things. Be choosy, too, and don’t be afraid to nix things that aren’t really necessary or that will add more stress to your plate.

Get things on your calendar sooner than later.

It’s much more likely that you’ll get to do all those fun, festive activities if you actually schedule them. Want to take the kids to look at the lights at Tanglewood? Choose a date now and put it on the calendar! The same goes for a Santa visit, Christmas movie nights at home, etc. Of course, things will come up organically, but putting together a schedule that accounts for all the things you want to be SURE to do will make them far more likely to actually happen!

Have hostess gifts on hand.

For me, sometimes the most stressful gift-giving situations are those where you’re running out the door to an event and realize you need to bring a present along with you. To avoid that overwhelm, have a few hostess gifts on hand. Make it simple for yourself and choose a couple of things you love, then buy a few. Maybe it’s a favorite candle, a hand cream, a bottle of wine, or a beautiful dish towel. Whatever it is, plan ahead and have some available to easily grab for any event.

Bonus: These can also double as gifts for teachers, hair stylists, estheticians, mail carriers, etc.!

Don’t neglect yourself.

I’m listing this one last, and yet it’s an incredibly important one. It can be SO easy to push your needs to the back burner in November and December, but that’s the worst thing you can do. When you take time to incorporate self care and prioritize yourself even during this busy season (ESPECIALLY during this busy season), you’re able to show up as the best version of yourself, you’re able to keep your energy high, and you’re able to be far more present and joyful as a result. And you DESERVE to have a beautiful holiday season, just as much as anyone else in your family!

So with that in mind be sure you’re eating well (and regularly), that you’re getting enough sleep, that you’re moving your body, and that you’re carving out time to fill your cup, whether that’s quiet time reading, hanging out with friends, or catching up on a favorite show with your partner.

Want to see more blogs like this and also get notifications on local events and happenings? Subscribe to our free weekly newsletters here.