The holidays are a time of family, friends, and good cheer. Being grateful, kind, and oftentimes giving more than receiving is what we moms and dads do. Spending time with family can bring about different emotions, anywhere from excitement to dread. It makes no difference which it is for you, they both come with their fair share of stress.
Moms tend to take on way too much and take it upon ourselves to make sure that everyone is happy. This begins well before Thanksgiving. We step away from our normal schedule and routine and prepare ourselves for a marathon of sorts. More often than not taking on more than one person ever should, dusting off our Superwoman capes. If you have children, especially small children, the holidays can be truly exhausting.
So, I got to thinking, how about I share some tips to help us stay sane? Keep everyone alive, you know that sort of thing. Wink. So without further adieu, here are my top 10 tips for staying sane during the holiday season without killing your kids! (Said in jest)
1. Acceptance of what is
I practice this daily. Sometimes I find myself fighting what is happening in my life, rather than simply accepting what is being put in front of me, in the moment. Think about that statement. Rather than inserting things like, “This is unfair”, “I wish things were different”, or “if only they___”, begin accepting things exactly as they are. Because let’s be honest, if you are saying those things to yourself, you causing yourself additional stress. Know that most everything is short-lived, a grain of sand on the beach. Know that everyone is doing his or her best. And most importantly, know that truly mastering this is one of the most empowering feelings that there is! It will help you to see clearly, and be able to love everything and everyone; for all that it is, for it is the reality. Life is not happening to you after all. Did part of your meal get messed up? Were family members late? Not grateful? Leave early? Kids fighting? Take a deep breath, all of these things make for the perfect day..accept what is.
Here are a couple possible affirmations to repeat to yourself through the day as needed:
*I accept that there are limitless possibilities for myself and others.
*I am learning to accept others as they are, we are all doing our best.
Why would I put this as number two? Well, nearly all of us are somewhat dehydrated on a daily basis, many of us chronically so. Add to that the extra cocktails that happen around the holidays, and “typically” a lot of excess sugar consumption (excess sugar will further deplete hydration) and enter sluggishness, muscle aches and possible cramping, increased risk of illness, and an overall grumpy Gus. If you want to be at your best, make sure you stay hydrated, always. It will make a big difference. If you fear that you are already pretty dehydrated on a daily basis, plain water simply may not be enough for you to hydrate.
*Tip: Make this easy recipe at home for a tasty treat that will be sure to hydrate you in no time!
-Pour approximately 8 cups of water into a pitcher
-Warm up one cup of the 8 cups in the microwave or on the stovetop
-Add to the warm water 5 tbsp raw honey and ½ to ¾ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt. Mix well. Pour into the remaining 7 cups water and squeeze in the juice of one lemon, or ½ lemon and ½ lime.
Drink throughout the day.
3.Your kitchen is your sacred space, your oasis
During the holiday, make solid intentions surrounding your kitchen space. What do I mean by this? Do not allow yourself to be stressed in your sanctuary. This is your oasis. On my refrigerator I have a mantra written on a piece of paper that reads, “Smile and breathe…nourishing and caring for your body is a pleasure, never a chore”. Prepare nourishing food as much as you can around the holidays. Do not succumb to the expectations from others of a smorgasbord of sticky sugary treats. If you and only you choose to make a decadent treat, do that with intention. If it feels ok for you to do so, bless your food before you eat it. Always sit and savor your meal. Never eat while standing or on the run.
Remember the old saying, the kitchen is the heart of the home? Do not go it alone, that by itself is super stressful. I never enjoyed slaving away in the kitchen while I listened to everyone enjoying themselves in the other room, and I bet you don’t either. Let go of the reigns for your sanity. If someone enters your sacred space give him or her a job to do. Ask for help. Working together will give you more time to spend with your loved ones, or have more moments alone if that is what you need to thrive.
Take time for an herbal tea when the night is quiet (or the early morning).
For me being a night owl, this ritual works best for me after my children are in bed, but if your sweet spot is early morning before anyone is awake..do that.
I sit with all the Christmas lights lit, if the cats are away I run a diffuser as well (remember cats and essential oils do not mix). I put in herbs that lessen stress and promote a good night sleep. Some great herbs to try are lavender, chamomile, passionflower, lemon balm or valerian root.
**Since I am not aware of your medical history or medications, please do your due diligence and make sure that these herbs are safe for your consumption.
No TV, no phone, no to-do lists running through my head, just silence. I sit and sip, I think about what I am grateful for, I call in all the good, and release what did not work for me that day back to the Universe. Something about the complete silence, the lights, and focusing on the good that not only helps me sleep soundly, but also helps me to awaken refreshed and ready to take on the next day.
If you are more of a morning person, a white tea may be ideal. Many love the taste of Matcha and it is superior to health. Try what works for you, just make sure you pair it with at least 10 minutes of blissful silence with thoughts of gratitude.
5.Be open to change
Listen to your gut. Be flexible. If you find yourself thinking “why am I even doing this”…maybe it is time to let it go! Just because historically everyone was up and ready to open gifts at 6 am, does not mean a change is not in order if you were up late on Christmas Eve (Unless you have children jumping on your bed of course). You usually spend Christmas running from house to house to house, and no one enjoys himself or herself? Arrange for one event the day after Christmas. Yes, some sacrifices may need to be made all around, but be open to change to reach the common goal, togetherness and memory making.
6.Forgive yourself….as you will have less than finer moments
Mom..mom..mom..mom..mom..mom..mom..Yes, there will be less than finer moments where you snap on your kids…why? Because you’re human! Kids are excited this time of year too! Everything is bigger, brighter, louder and as a result, your kids may act less than stellar! Keep this in mind when you feel what I like to call “ready to pop”. Change the perspective, put yourself in their shoes and take a moment to get down to their level. Here are a few great reasons to forgive yourself if you falter:
-Hey, last I checked no-one is perfect. I share a quote on my page and it fits pretty well here…Your kids do not need you to be perfect, they just need you! Trust me, they will forgive you quicker than you forgive you for losing your patience. Give them a hug, reach out for a tickle, cuddle, read a book together, help them to slow down the pace. It will help you both.
-Christmas is much like your wedding day. You spend so much time beforehand freaking out that something will go wrong…and it is likely that something will, and does…and NO ONE NOTICED! Take a deep breath. Even if something does not go as you had planned, it is likely no one will notice or care!
-You, above everyone, even your children, deserve your love, care, and forgiveness. We are our worst critics for sure. Give yourself even half the love and forgiveness that you give your kids on any given day and your GOLDEN!
A great book entitled “A Course in Miracles” by Helen Schucman (1) stated:
“You are spirit, pure, whole, and innocent. All is forgiven and released.”
Now, THIS is an amazing affirmation if I ever heard one. Memorize it and speak it often!
I could not make a list such as this without addressing aromatherapy. If you are having a larger gathering, diffusing is not a good idea, but there are a few others that will work just as well!
Utilize aromatherapy inhalers. Aromatherapy pendants or bracelets are another great option. You can apply a few drops of your favorite oil or oil blend and it will go a long way to keep you calm, focused, grounded, provide a pick-me-up, or whatever will work best for you in any situation. Be prepared!
Here are a few oil blends that I recommend (these are all kid safe):
Zero In (focus blend)
Vetiver Vetiveria zizanoides 2 drops
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia 8 drops
Lime Citrus aurantifolia 5 drops
Amount of drops is appropriate for an aromastick inhaler
Green Light Go (pick me up blend)
Spearmint Mentha spicata 5 drops
Lemon Citrus limon 5 drops
Lime Citrus aurantifolia 5 drops
Amount of drops is appropriate for an aromastick inhaler
Woesbegone (calming master blend)
Mandarin red Citrus reticulata 15 drops
Orange sweet Citrus sinensis 8 drops
Sandalwood Santalum spicatum (I prefer Western Australian Sandalwood for aroma and sustainability)
Frankincense Boswellia carteri 4 drops
Vetiver Vetiveria zizanoides 2 drops
Mix and store in an amber or cobalt glass bottle in the fridge. Use in an inhaler, diffuser, or necklace/bracelet.
For more kid-friendly recipes like this >>>Aromatherapy for Kids, safe and sound
8.Drop the preconceived notions
We can attach preconceived notions to just about anything. I used to be very “specific” we shall say…cough cough…about how I wanted my Christmas tree decorated. This year, as a newly single mom..I handed over the job to my boys. They looked at me and said…”Mom, are you sure?”…I said “I am”, and I have not rearranged any of it. It is perfect just as it is. One simple and basic step to letting go of things being “just so” gave me a surprising sense of relief.
This can apply to endless things surrounding the holidays, the meals being just right, who helps clean up, how long you stay at guests homes, getting the perfect gift or having it in the perfect wrapping (one of my family members cringes when you rip wrapping paper, you need to carefully peel the tape, so it can be reused) =0 ….or yes, even how your children behave at Aunt Cathy’s house. Or how Aunt Cathy is viewing your children’s behavior from across the room.
Through the many times of stress and moments when you may want to scream like a crazy lady, try deep breathing instead. This 4-7-8 breathing technique was created by Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. See his video here (2)
The basis of this 4-7-8 breath is truly to create a deep awareness of our breathing. It works wonders, and the great thing is no one will even know that you are doing it! If you embrace it, the 4-7-8 breath will become a habit in no time! For those of you saying, I breathe every second of every day…so not the same. Practice it and you will be sure to notice the difference immediately.
9.Take a mini vacation
Oh, the wonder of guided imagery. I have used it to get through some really tough times in my life. Guided imagery has been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol! (3) If you are not familiar with what guided imagery is, you lay in a comfortable position where you know you will not need to move for a good 20 minutes. Pillows, blankets, eye pillow, diffuser running, the whole kitchen sink. Ideally using good headphones, listen to a guided imagery audio file. You can find some decent ones on YouTube or any other music program such as Spotify or Pandora, etc. They will take you away to a beach, a forest floor or a garden grove for example. You will use all of your senses to be there fully, and your guide will help to paint the picture. Not all of us will enjoy the same person’s voice, but I do have my favorite which I will share with you.
Go to Meditainment.com. There are 7 minutes samples of a few different scenarios or locations if you will. You can pay a bundle price of around $30 for all of the audio clips. There are almost 2 dozen, and are all 20 minutes long. (I am NOT an affiliate) The ladies voice/accent is super soothing, and it is done very well. I have always been fully relaxed after completing a 20-minute session, and get up feeling refreshed and ready to start over. Go check it out!
10.The gift of time
Let time stand still. I have four examples on how you can do this, try one or all of them and see what works best for you.
-Holiday party (at night) is loud and you are feeling anxious, kids fully loaded on sugar running around, maybe some adults with too much to drink…..quietly step outside unnoticed. Move to a dark spot where no one can see you and just look up at the stars. Lift your arms to the universe if that feels comfortable for you. Bask in the glory of the world and that you are a part of it. Contemplate the vast sky. If you can see the moon, close your eyes momentarily and feel the connection, which is your womb (Yes, even if you do not have your uterus anymore, the energetics are still there). Bless the moon shining down upon you. Listen for the sounds around you. Be grateful to be alive and in your body, your container. Bonus if it is snowing down on you!
-Find your inner child. When the world is quiet (or if you have to search for that piece of silence) lean back and close your eyes. Picture yourself as a child, and he or she is standing in front of you, needing you. Let him or her sit on your lap. Caress their hair, cuddle with them, look into their eyes and tell them that they are good enough, tell them that everything is going to be ok. Whatever feels right here, do that and for whatever length of time you need. See your child self smile and feel secure and safe. Open your eyes. Now go and treat yourself this EXACT SAME WAY.
-You just got out of the shower and thankfully no kids are there to ask for something, and no cats or dogs are at the door using their paw to try and join you. Blissful silence. Place a towel over the toilet and sit with your favorite lotion or oil. Rather than rushing through this practice of moisturizing, be super mindful. Feel your hand on your skin, feel the hair on your arms, the temperature of your skin, knead and massage as you go. Love your body, and treat it right. Say nice things to yourself. Love yourself. <3
-Practice truly using all of your senses. We often rush through so many activities in a day, we may use them all, but we surely do not pay attention. Can you step into the grass barefoot? Close your eyes and really feel it, listen to every sound around you. Breathe in deep and really smell. Feel sand or dirt run through your fingers. One of my favorites is painting or drawing. Bonus if you use your fingers with either paint of charcoal! The holidays are full of scents, pay attention to them. This is a beautiful way to practice mindfulness, and you will be surprised how quickly your mind quiets.
This piece was a bit longer than planned, but I really wanted to hit on as many areas as I could for all of you. I hope you find that some of them really helpful. From the very bottom of my heart, to the bottom of yours, I wish you peace, love, and wonderful memories this holiday season. And stay sane!
(1) A course in Miracles
(2) 4-7-8 Breath, Retrieved from https://www.drweil.com/videos-features/videos/breathing-exercises-4-7-8-breath/
Like so many practices in life, I encourage you to become educated on the proper use of essential oils. When using them, please do so cautiously, understanding that there is often misinformation on the internet. You can be assured that I support only educated and proven resources. While essential oils should not be feared they should be respected and used properly to ensure the safety of the individuals using them.
Please note that I am not a medical practitioner. The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. By using this website, you assume full responsibility and liability for your own actions.