5 Simple Steps to Save Your Sanity This Holiday Season

The Holidays are here! There’s magic in the air. Music everywhere. Lights sparkle all around, and the air is filled with the sweet smell of cinnamon and pine. It’s a heartwarming, Norman Rockwell time, that we all look forward to every year…

Or is it?

Yes, of course it is, but for moms, the holidays also mean lots of added stress; shopping, decorating, cooking, wrapping, entertaining guests and helping family… and that’s just for starters.

All too often it’s easy to let this special time pass us by without actually enjoying it ourselves. Yes, I know from your perspective the holidays are ‘all about them’ – but guess what… what they really want for the holidays is YOU!

So here are a few simple steps to make sure you are part of the celebration this holiday season and enjoy quality time with your family and loved ones.

Step 1 – Plan Ahead and Simplify

If you’re like me your schedule is already full with your everyday tasks so adding more for the holidays is a bit tricky to say the least.

The secret to having everything run smoothly is to plan ahead and keep things off your agenda that really don’t belong there.

Make a list (and check it twice?) of all the activities that you would like to participate in this holiday season.

Include parties you plan on hosting as well as those you would like to attend. Work parties, school parties, gift exchanges. Add any additional activities such as shopping, movies, play time, decorating the house, feeding the homeless, and visiting friends.

Make sure to include all of your Preparation Time such as gift shopping, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, added laundry and preparations if you have guests coming for a few days. Travel time if you are going to a party or visiting family out of town.

Evaluate Your List and decide which tasks and activities are a must and which ones can be left off your calendar and then SCHEDULE everything!

Simplify or Delegate whenever you can. Kids love to help with baking, but make sure they take part in the cleaning up process as well. It will go a lot faster and can actually be fun!

And most importantly just say “no” to what will not enhance your holiday.

Do Away with any of the tasks that won’t make a difference when you look back on this time several years from now. If it’s not in Holiday Spirit – cut it!

Step 2 – Get your Daily Exercise

We all know that exercise is one of the best stress managers we have. However, when the hustle and bustle of the holidays comes along it’s the first thing that goes by the way side.

Don’t compromise on your exercise! Make the time for it and you’ll breeze through the season with a new energy you’ve never had in previous years. I guarantee your family will thank you.

Remember, you don’t have to squeeze in an hour class at your gym to get the benefits you need. But you MUST include at least 20 minutes of exercise in your daily routine. You’ll feel a lot more energy and a lot less stress. And walking up and down the mall does not count as exercise. In fact it’s more draining than anything.

Go out for an early morning hike or a game of tennis with a friend. How about a Zumba class with your girlfriends?

Do a “Burst Fitness Session”30 to 60 seconds of high intensity followed by double that time of recovery. Do this for a total of 8 to 10 minutes.

Here are a few “Burst” ideas:

  1. Run up a set of about One Hundred steps, taking them two-by-two, then walk down. Repeat 4 times.
  2. Do Jumping Jacks or Burpies for 1 minute – then shuffle gently from side-to-side for 2 minutes. Repeat 4 times.
  3. Jump Rope fast for 1 minute, then gently for 2 minutes. Repeat 4 times. This is one of my favorites as it makes me feel like a kid!

Get creative with your workouts, but whatever you do, just commit to that personal time for yourself each day and it will pay off with huge benefits.

Add 10 to 15 minutes of meditation and stretching at the end of the day and you’ll feel ready for whatever challenge comes your way.

Step 3 – Shop From the Comfort of Your Own Home

The internet has made Christmas shopping so simple! With electronics high on the wish list of my children, much of my shopping can be done from the comfort of my home. Bonus. Since the postman comes while my kids are at school it’s the best way to keep a complete surprise!

Although I do love shopping for that one “special something” once in a while, it’s nice to get most items of my various lists without fighting the crowds. And with most sites extending Cyber Monday deals throughout this week it’s easy to find what you want at a price that makes you happy.

By shopping early you give yourself peace of mind and free time for all those other little things that make the holidays so magical.

Step 4 – Take a “Mommy Time Out”

You are not running a marathon, but it sure feels like you are doesn’t it? We are human. So why not take a “Mommy Time Out” everyday to melt the tension away.

Pamper yourself, if only for a few moments.

A 20 minute bubble bath, with candles, will do wonders for that achy body and your achy mind. A glass of wine, or a warm cup of tea, cuddled up by the fire after the little ones are asleep is truly delicious!

Again this does not have to be complicated.

I like to wake up before the rest of the family and enjoy some quiet time with God every morning. It’s my way of getting centered. I usually follow that with a half-hour walk with my dog, then I wake the girls up and start with lunchbox and breakfast preparations.

Step 5 – Keep Your Priorities Straight

Remember, and this is so important – the holidays are not about perfection, they are a time of celebration! A time of letting go, and truly enjoying the ones that make your life the special gift that it is.

The best gift that you can give your family and loved ones this holiday season is YOU!

By taking these Five Simple Steps you’ll be fully present and available to your family and friends, and you will be able to actually enjoy each and every moment with the people most dear to you.

Now doesn’t this sound much better than rushing through the season in a complete fog, like a stressed out Event Planner who just lost her appointment book?

Some of my most treasured childhood memories are of the holidays. I remember smells and colors, but most of all great joy and the feeling of being truly loved. So make sure to slow down a little this holiday season and make lasting memories for your children as well. It’s important. The simple moments are often the ones that linger the most. So kick up your heels and delight in those simple moments! And take it down a notch… it’s really okay to slow down.


  1. Very good advice!

  2. Thanks for some great tips, Valerie. I so wish I could get up in time for some quiet time but I am so not the morning person.

    I heard on the radio I think it was this morning by a guest the morning show had on how she says “No” during the holidays, because like so many, she does not like saying no. She said what she says is, “My heart says yes but the reality of my schedule says no,” and that is to anything that she has not determined as a “must” during the holiday season.

    I know one day we as Moms do not want to look back with regrets of wishing we had made more quality time with our children while they were still with us. Even fitting in a few extra moments here and there make a big difference.

    • Anne, thank you for sharing this beautiful way of saying “no”. I do believe that for us women saying “no” is one of the hardest things to do. We are naturally inclined to be service, nurture so we tend to always want to say “YES!”. What has helped me is the realization that every time I say “yes” to something is not a “must” I am in essence saying “no” to my family. And as you say, that time is precious and already short enough… It has helped me be at peace with that decision any time I have to make it. 🙂

  3. Great article! I really need to get exercise in, I run around like a crazy person which keeps me fit but I feel like I need some yoga or meditation added and some cardio as well.

    • Being fit is important when you’re juggling kids, house and work. But having a regular time for exercise and wind down will help keep you sane! The hardest part is getting started but once you get into the routine you’ll wonder how you ever did without… and you’ll find you actually have more time for other things! We’re here to support you Kari!

  4. It’s easy to fall into the mad rush of the season; so a plan of action is the best present you can give to the entire family. A lot of practical advice here, Valerie. Thanks for sharing your insights!

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