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California State PTA Holistic Moms Network MOPS PALS MOMS CLUB

By Traci L. Carman

It is hard to believe we are into yet another holiday season and the conclusion of another year. How fast the time is flying!

As we look at the holidays each year, we find ourselves at a crossroads. It happens without fail, and many of us walk away scratching our heads, wondering why we did the same thing this year that we did last year (and every year before), the same thing that created a stressful holiday season. Have you ever been there?

Well, this year, I encourage all of us to take a moment to recognize that we are standing at the crossroads right now, in this moment … again. How can you create a memorable holiday filled with gratitude, as opposed to stress? Here are some ideas:

1) Make a list of what needs to be accomplished between now and Christmas. This will give you a good sense of what you need to take care of so you can plan accordingly. You could resist making the list, but that doesn’t make those items go away; they just get overlooked which causes more stress. You might as well start by getting organized.

2) Include bullets under each item that will assist you in completing that to-do item. For instance, you may have on your list: “buy Christmas presents for Amy, John and Sarah.” That entry would look something like this:

a) Get a gift for Amy, John and Sarah

• Ask Amy for a list of what she’d like for Christmas (it’s nice to have options)
• Ask John for a list of what he’d like for Christmas
• Ask Sarah for a list of what she’d like for Christmas
(notice they are three separate items, since they are three separate tasks)

b) My next holiday shopping day is ________ (date)
c) Call _____________________ (friend) to see if s/he can go shopping with me (fun)
d) I will shop with ____________ (actually list the person)
e) I will shop for ______________________ (see how many people you can be ready to shop for)

3) What are the traditions your family enjoys during the holidays? Are they stressful, enjoyable, or both? What would it take to remove the stress? Can you have everyone bring food (as opposed to cooking everything yourself)? Or, can you have someone come early and cook together? (fun!) If you enjoy cooking, but the cleaning stresses you out, can you hire someone to clean the day before? Or, can your kids and spouse help clean?

4) When you look back at past years, did you wish you had done some things differently? Remember what those things are, and decide which ones you want to implement this year. Get ahead of the process.

The key to alleviating stress is preparation. Know what is coming. Plan what’s important. Take care of the tasks necessary (in advance) to make things happen. The wonderful thing about this ~ aside from your enjoyment factor going up dramatically ~ is your kids are going to enjoy the holiday season so much more! They are also going to learn how to prioritize, plan and implement. We are always modeling something … positive or negative. We have a choice.

The items that are important to each family during this holiday season will vary dramatically. The above ideas are just a few ways to start implementing a stress free holiday zone in your home. There are endless ways to do that. Get creative!

Wishing you and your family a joyful and meaningful Thanksgiving!