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Self-care Tips for Moms During the Holidays

Do you feel like you’re thriving or surviving the holiday season?

In this season of peace & joy to all mankind (or to be more 2022, all people…), the pressure to blow magic fairy dust on everything, to be even more, to even more people can take all the joy out of the season for already overburdened moms.

As a mom of 3 kids, I know all about the invisible load of motherhood (“the unnoticed and uncompensated physical, mental, and emotional labor that takes place behind the scenes to keep households happy, healthy, and running smoothly”), but once we hit the holiday season, that load just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. With all the holiday parties, teacher gifts, spirit days, the damn elf, Santa, holiday cards (I had 1 rogue year of doing these in 2020, but I'm fully back on the no-holiday-cards-in-this-house train!) and just producing so much magic, it is really easy to feel overwhelmed at this time of year and put our own self-care on the back burner even more than usual.

So with all that said, I am here to remind you mama to take a second, to sit and breathe and ask yourself “is this necessary?” Will my child’s life be ruined if this doesn’t happen? Because there IS a way for us to do things differently, it just might make us a little uncomfortable in the process. We don’t have to reach the finish line of whichever holiday we are celebrating completely depleted and exhausted!

Here are my simple steps for some badass self-care tips for the holiday season. And not one of them is a day at the spa!

  • Cut yourself some slack. If (for whatever reason - trauma, stress, mental health issues, burnout, overworked and underpaid, invisible load etc etc etc ) you’re not feeling merry & bright the season, if you’re feeling more stress or anxiety…be gentle with yourself. I know this is a really challenging concept for many of us - we are programed to nurture and care for others, not ourselves. But imagine if we gave ourselves the same amount of grace, reassurance and care we gave to our kids or best friends?! It really is OK if some days you’re thrive, and some days you just survive. THIS. IS. NORMAL.

  • Prioritize. We always start out with a ridiculously long list of alllll the things we want to do as a family in the holiday season (my kids are 6, 8 & 11) from visiting an ice castle, to a train ride with Santa, to snow tubing en famille. And then I bring us back to reality! With 2 non-neurotypical kids, it is really easy to get stressed out and overwhelmed with ALL THE FUN THINGS! I quickly remind myself that if we do all of the things we want to do that, A. we’ll be broke, B. we’ll be stressed, C. No-one will enjoy it. So I pick 3 top things I want to share with my kids, and then stick to it. Everything else is just gravy after that.

  • Delegate. It is really easy to allow that invisible load of motherhood to triple or quadruple during the holiday season, but we do not have to do this alone. Let me repeat, we do not have to do this alone. If you have a partner, try to divide and conquer as much as possible. If you do not have a partner, lean on a friend, an aunty, a godparent, a grandparent, anyone who loves your kid(s) like you do. The responsibility for a fabulous holiday season does not lie solely with you.

  • Release the SHOULDs. Whenever you have “should” in a sentence, take a breath, pause and think “why am I doing this?” This is YOUR holiday season, and you get to create it with your WANTS, not your SHOULDS!

  • Create space. Create space between tasks to breathe. Create space between events to allow for the crappy traffic at this time of year. Create space every single day to be quiet, to be still, to just be, instead of do. It can just be 1 minute of quiet breathing, but giving this to your nervous system is a gift. It will pay you in dividends!

  • Be smart on social media Don’t look at the Instagram or TikTok influencer Christmas life and feel like this needs to be your life. It’s not real. Remember that their life probably looks a lot different behind the scenes. Also….even if it doesn’t, it is not your life, it is not your family, so it doesn’t matter. Comparison is the thief of joy. I decided this year that we’re never going to be the family that has stunning white aesthetic, matching ornaments, even a tidy house. And i am OK with that. I have to remind myself of this acceptance every time I go on social media!

  • Spend time in nature. I will leave you with this. Because what a wonderful (and free!) gift to give to yourself. So many research studies show the almost immediate benefits of spending time in nature:

  1. you tend to feel more calm

  2. increased endorphin & dopamine levels,

  3. focus improves,

  4. feel less anxious and depressed

  5. are less irritable,

  6. lower blood pressure & cortisol (the stress hormone)

  7. tend to feel less isolated.

And it doesn’t even have to be hours forest bathing, or spending time at the beach. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend or access to nature, just find some grass, some trees, birds and plants, and pause. Breathe, be present, touch it if you can, and disconnect from the stress & reconnect to the joy.

Key takeaways

  • You don’t have to do everything - delegate, prioritize & say no to the things that don’t bring you joy

  • Speaking of joy, Comparison is the thief of it!

  • Create space, and slow down. Preferably in nature!

TLTR - be kind & gentle with yourself this month, do less, breathe, give yourself grace

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