The year has come and gone; just like that, it’s December again. I love the holidays, the traditions, the family gatherings and the food. It truly is a magical time of year. I take great comfort in the constant that is Christmas; no matter how the year went down, it will always be there, and with it, your memories from years past and traditions that endure.
Since becoming a mom, a lot has changed, and Christmas has not been spared. I love that I get to relive the magic from my childhood with my kids and start family traditions of our own. Seeing the joy of December in their eyes can warm anyone’s heart. But on the other hand, nothing will push a tired mom over the edge quite like the Holidays. Between wanting to do all the things (DIY advent calendars, Elf on the shelf, gingerbread houses from scratch and decorating every inch of the house) and seeing every single one of your relatives, Christmas can be super overwhelming. No matter how hard it is, sometimes you have to say no. It might be time to “quiet quit” Christmas.
Here is why.
If you are unfamiliar with the global phenomenon, quiet quitting is where employees slowly withdraw from overworking to preserve their mental health and have a more balanced life. The pandemic has much to do with this new way of seeing our relationship to work. But, the way I see it, it is not only in our jobs that we are overworked. Constant social pressure has made us moms feel as though we aren’t doing enough, and the bar we have collectively set ourselves to cut it as a good mom has risen. The holidays are no exception.
Holiday burnout is a thing.
If the thought of hosting a party or making sure you find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list gives you mild anxiety, then you have to take a step back, mama. Holiday burnout is a real thing.
Christmas has always been stressful for moms. I remember my mother doing everything in her power to ensure my sister and I had THE MOST perfect and memorable Christmases ever. And we are so lucky that we did, but in hindsight, what I remember the most of those years is the time we spent together, our traditional family brunch and listening to our favourite Christmas CDs. Not that gift she left work early to wait in line for at Toys R Us (what with the no internet and all). I know she felt pressure to make our holiday perfect (thanks, mom), and this was in the ’90s, back when there weren’t any insta moms making us doubt our worth because we didn’t have time for a coordinated-outfit-Christmas photoshoot. Of course, social pressure is more present than ever, so it is normal to feel stressed out and like you’re not doing enough. But take a step back, catch your breath and pat yourself on the back: you have just made it through another year as a parent, and that alone is cause for celebration! Now pour yourself a congratulatory glass of wine (or eggnog) before we continue.
Focus on quality, not quantity
Welcome back. As parents, we want our kids to have the best memories, but we also need to focus on quality, not quantity. This goes for gifts, gatherings and traditions. Do you have any traditions you feel pressured to do and don’t enjoy? Then say no. No one will spontaneously combust if there is no Elf on a shelf this year (or ever). You can also ask your kids about their favourite traditions and make the most of them.
The same goes for gifts. My kids have so many things that I don’t even know what to get for Christmas. And so I catch myself creating needs for them to ensure they have enough gifts under the tree. I’m not even aware of the appropriate number of Christmas gifts, so what is enough anyway? Please tell me I am not the only one. Remember that experiences make great gifts, too, like a family outing or tickets to a show. The gift of time with your kids will create more memories than a toy you added to your cart just because.
Saying no to gatherings
Yes, this is tough. The holidays are a time for family, and we can feel pressured to see everyone on both sides during this two-week period. It can be too much. Not doing so, however, is often accompanied by guilt, especially after the pandemic. If you do not have the energy or the proper mindset to attend (and enjoy) every gathering, then it’s ok to decline politely. Know your limits and explain them to your family and friends. Sure, your great aunt Gertrude will be bummed she won’t see the kids, but it’s not your job to please everyone. Read that once again. It’s not your job to please everyone. People, the adults in your family, will have to learn to deal with their deception. They own that, not you. If you want to focus your time and energy on those with whom you are the closest, it is your right to do so. Just let aunt Gerty down gently.
The best gift you will give yourself
It’s your holiday, too and while you are busy making it memorable for your kids, make sure it is enjoyable for you. Put your time and efforts into the things that truly matter, those you actually enjoy and leave the rest for another year (Elf on a shelf, I’m looking at you). Celebrate the year ending and set intentions for the new one at our door. Honnestly, saying no might be the best gift you give yourself.
Happy Holidays Mama!
* Sidenote, I’ve got nothing against Elf on a shelf; I mean no disrespect if that’s your thing. However, I have decided not to go there because I can’t be bothered.