You’re washing dishes after dinner and your child informs you that you’re making cookies for their Christmas party (which is scheduled for the following day, naturally). You fling open the cabinets, pray for a forgotten cookie mix, and find nothing. Rising anxiety, an unpleasant word, tears (or all three) follow.
For many parents, the holiday season is a stressful time of year. On top of your regular to-do’s and obligations, you’re now trying to make it through the parties and get togethers and keep your kids mindful of the true meaning of Christmas. Throw in the unique challenges of 2020, and it’s easy to lose the joy of the upcoming season.
You want to enjoy Christmas — not feel overwhelmed by it — but what does that actually look like? Here are five ways to avoid festive burnout so you can cherish the season, rather than simply surviving to the end of the year.
1. Prioritize What’s Important
Finding peace during the holidays is not only a healthy practice for your family, but it blesses others by revealing God’s love. By focusing on the gift God has given us in sending His only son, we are able to remind others (and ourselves) that rejoicing in Christ’s birth is more important than making those cookies from scratch.
Of course, there will still be times when chaos will try to disrupt routine. When you start to feel overwhelmed, hit pause and ask yourself a few questions:
- Is this thing that is giving me anxiety going to help me celebrate Christ’s birth, or will it distract me?
- What is my intent behind this action?
- How does this action demonstrate God’s love to my kids?
Learn how to anticipate holiday stress — acknowledging it (and understanding what is causing it) is the first step to overcoming it.
2. Decide How You Want to Celebrate the Holidays
Don’t feel pressured to do Christmas a certain way — after all, it isn’t about the parties; it’s about honoring the birth of Christ. Focus on how you want to celebrate with your children, and how you can use this season to teach your children about God’s love.
Choosing which traditions are important to your family is a great opportunity to involve your child in holiday planning. Chances are, they could care less about whether Great-Grandma Betty’s special silverware is polished in time for Christmas dinner. Ask them what their favorite traditions are and make those a priority. Discuss family values and how you want to spend time together. Do they really love to drink hot cocoa while listening to the Christmas story? Or maybe volunteering at a non-profit organization, such as Feed My Starving Children? Instead of trying to make everything memorable, focus on making a few high-quality memories that will have a lasting impact.
How do LCA students celebrate the holidays? By giving back.
Volunteering in the local community is a great family activity to teach children the value of serving others. Here’s how a group of LCA students recently helped a neighbor.
3. Refocus Your Family Time
Your children’s schedule is going to be disrupted over the holidays — that’s unavoidable. Instead of worrying about whether or not to RSVP ‘yes’ to an event, prioritize ways to incorporate the joy of Christmas into your family’s normal routine.
Celebrate Christ’s presence by ensuring you are truly present. Consider establishing boundaries in these areas:
Be intentional about who you make time to see. In a perfect world, you’d be able to make it to all of the holiday activities. In this season of COVID, know that it is OK to RSVP ‘no’ to an event — whether it’s out of precaution or because it will give you some much-needed time for your family to re-energize.
These days, it seems like the holiday sales announcements start to flood your inbox as early as October. The constant stream of things to buy and ideas to decorate and must-try recipes can distract you from what is important. Ditch the social media (and technology) as often as you can and eliminate feeling pressured to keep up with everyone else’s celebrations.
Prepare a budget (and stick to it!). Every gift doesn’t have to be elaborate — sometimes it’s the small, well-chosen gifts that are the most meaningful. Let your kids follow the budget and help pick out gifts for some math practice over Christmas Break. It’s also important to remember that material gifts aren’t required to celebrate Christmas. Sometimes, the best gift we can give is to bless others with our presence in a way that reveals the joy of Christ in us.
4. Practice Healthy Habits
On a scale of one peppermint candy to a forest of candy canes, how much sugar do you anticipate your kids will consume this holiday season? While there is a time and place to enjoy seasonal sweets, don’t forget to balance out the holiday favorites with healthy habits to keep optimal health. Make sure everyone in the family is getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and eating a balance of good food. Try to spend some time outside getting physical exercise as the weather permits. It will boost everyone’s Christmas spirit and keep you going strong as you get ready to ring in the New Year.
5. Don’t Feel Alone
Part of practicing healthy habits is knowing when to take care of yourself. This year, many people may feel isolated as COVID-19 restrictions have limited their connection to others. Learn to recognize when you’re feeling down, and when you need to connect with others.
If you’re not in the holiday spirit, it’s OK! Just don’t lose sight of the most important reason for the season: the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Since many Christmas gatherings and activities are cancelled this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, 2020 might just be the perfect year to slow down, reprioritize, and focus on meaningful, less stressful Christmas celebrations.
A Relationship-Centered Community
At Legacy, we understand how busy this time of year can be for families. We’re here to support you as you navigate this season, so you never feel alone.
- Connect with LCA families on our Storytellers blog
- Learn more about The Legacy Promise and how we partner with parents to provide their children with a Christian education that emphasizes community and positive relationships
Legacy Christian Academy is Frisco's preeminent Pre-K through 12 Christian school committed to educating students in a college preparatory environment balanced in academics, athletics, and fine arts–all within the context of a biblical worldview. For more information on Legacy, visit our admissions page.