Can you believe it's already halfway through December? Do you have a million lists floating around your head and nagging thoughts that there's simply not enough time to do it all? Here are some ideas to help busy moms thrive during the holidays:
Do less. Often, moms will run themselves ragged trying to do everything for everyone. Don't volunteer a home-baked cake to the class party just because. Your family would rather have a less-accomplished, balanced mom than a crazy supermom.
Set two to four priorities each day. These are to be done in between the urgent tasks. This way, you'll get some of the more pressing tasks done so you have room for fun!
Don't try and be Martha Stewart. Let's face it, there's only one Martha, so ditch the complex crafts unless you're really into them and tuck away instructions that require an engineering degree. Get some simple items like popcorn, string, cranberries and let the kids go creative. Use icing to stick on sprinkles, sequins and beads or other items you have around the house.
Delegate! Let each family member be responsible for a task. Or, create a "task jar." Everyone takes a turn choosing his or her task. Hint: You can color-code tasks with colored paper according to task age level. When you delegate, make sure expectations are clear, and lower your standards for the little ones.
Do the holidays your way. Remember: If the party's at your house, you're in charge. Stressing to make everyone happy will give you nothing more than a headache. Do it classy, but do it your way.
Hire extra help. If your children are older, ask them to help out. They can babysit, cook, shop, or decorate. If your children are younger, elicit the neighborhood college students who are home for the holidays; they'd probably jump at the chance to earn a little extra cash.
Dress for comfort, not style. I'm talking sneakers and sweat pants, moms! Unless you're shopping with Brad Pitt, when you're out and about, comfort trumps style.
Implement a daily luxury. Whether it's taking a few minutes of down time or spending an hour in the bubble bath, having little pleasures for yourself will make a huge difference.
Let others help. Why is it that women seem to have a hard time letting others help, not to mention worrying that things won't be done "the right way"? So what if your husband buys a Crock Pot thinking it's a Christmas tree stand; you'll have one less gift to buy.
Don't go crazy. I thought I was the only one who felt like a mad woman at Christmas. Unless you want to end up like Britney, don't be afraid to take your decorating down a notch. If the kids want to have the 50 popsicle stick snowflakes you've accumulated over the years in the basement, fine. They don't have to be displayed on the mantle. They really don't.
Support your friends. Together with a group of friends, offer to host a kids play group while the other moms shop, and then rotate so you get a few afternoons to yourself.
Email holiday cards and invitations. Take advantage of our wonderful age of technology: Use a service like Send Out Cards, where you do everything online and you can even make the cards look "hand-written," so no one will know it's not your writing. Except me of course.
Give the gift of love. Your kid's wish list is not an order form. You don't have to buy everything on the list, or items that you know will cause tension (like the magic wand that screeches every time you wave it and shoots glitter onto unsuspecting relatives). You'll enjoy the season more if you get your kids quality items that they'll treasure for many years to come.
Remember, the holidays are about sharing with loved ones and showing our children what the holidays are really about: love and connection.
Bonus Tips for All Year:
Let go of expectations. Moms tend to take on the role of superwoman and set high and unrealistic expectations. Know your threshold, accept it and set healthy boundaries. There's power in saying no. Every time you say yes when you really mean "no," you're giving your power away.
Release perfection. Not only do we tend to take on too much, but we also expect to be perfect at everything we do. This is not realistic and can create a lot of discomfort and dissatisfaction. It's important to embrace the things that we love and drop perfection and unsupportive self-talk.
Remove "should" from your vocabulary. I should do this. I should do that. Here, we set ridiculously-high expectations based on what others are doing or saying about us. When we say "I should," it's not in alignment with who we are, and we are once again giving our power away. Moms: Let go of this word and save yourself the angst.
Ashley Ryan is founder of Busy Moms Parenting, whose mission is to help mothers achieve greater home, work and life balance through self-love and empowerment.