“Peace on earth” is the mantra of the season and is what Jesus brings, but sometimes it can feel like Christmas is the least peaceful time of the year. With the shopping, wrapping, decorating, wish lists, tacky sweaters, the Christmas treats you have to make (and eat), and the numerous Christmas parties at school, with friends, with family, and with church, peace is often crowded out by the chaos of the Christmas season.
The American Psychological Association did a study on holiday stress and found that the holiday season has “psychological consequences” for many people and that more people reported that their stress increases, rather than decreases, around the holidays. The APA reports that “holiday stress has a particular impact on women, who take charge of many of the holiday celebrations, particularly the tasks related to preparing meals and decorating the home,” and that women tend to have a harder time relaxing during the holidays.
Two mom bloggers share their ideas for reducing the chaos at Christmas and keeping the peaceful awaiting of our coming King the main focus. Heidi St. John from thebusymom.com and Emma Jones of Playful Learning both emphasize the importance of intentionality during the Christmas season. You can read their full-length articles in the links above, or read a summary of their ideas in the list below.
- Prioritize and say no. Yes, just say no to MORE than half of the opportunities coming your way this December. I promise, you can do this. If I – a recovering people pleaser – can do it, you can too! Also, make sure that the activities you DO plan on are helping you and your children to focus on Him. Choose wisely. (Heidi) No matter how much I might enjoy seeing friends I would feel a great loss if we didn’t have a few days of our own family time. Work out what matters to your family and prioritize it. (Emma)
- Create ‘oasis’ moments. Set aside a little time, whether an hour, an evening or even a weekend, to decompress. Spend quiet evenings with the tree lit, reading the Christmas story together or watching a Christmas movie. Light some candles, unplug the phone and the internet and make time for quiet enjoyment (with or without the kids). (Heidi & Emma)
- Don’t compare. Someone you know weaves all their Christmas gifts from homegrown kale? Your neighbor’s house can be seen from space with all the lights they have on? The blog you read has 45 crafts you must do by Christmas Eve? Don’t worry about it. There is always a more perfect vision of what could be, but what really matters is the authentic experiences you share with your family each and every day. So if you are frantically hot gluing 55 sequins to a pine cone while frantically stirring a pan of mulled something on the stove, it might be time to take a break. No one is perfect and no one should try to be. But to those you love, those who love you…you are perfect already. (Emma)
- Continue that thankful tree you started back in October or November. Not only does it help my children to count their blessings (and not their wish lists,) but it helps me to refocus as well! (Heidi)
- Peace is a person. His name is Jesus. Focusing on the real meaning of the season helps our hearts and minds to slow down and rest in the true reason for the season. Spend time daily with your children in prayer, devotion and reading books that draw you to the CHRIST in Christmas. (Heidi)
Parents, how can you seek peace this Christmas season in a way that you might not have before? Share your ideas with us and with other parents below!