Preventing Holiday Burnout


Last year was my first year celebrating Christmas as a parent. We were in France, celebrating the holiday with my French husband’s family. Because we were traveling, we didn’t get a tree, didn’t put up lights, and only put out a few decorations. The weeks leading up to Christmas felt unrushed and unstressed.

We are home this year, and I’m already starting to feel the silent pressure that the season brings. What’s the hardest about it is most of the pressure comes from good things that make me happy. Friends, parties, beloved traditions… it’s hard enough for me to say no to things I don’t want to do. How do I say no to the things that I want to do?

The key is being intentional.

Cozy up, make a warm drink, and consider the following ways in preventing holiday burnout:

How do you want to be this holiday season?

Before trying to prioritize your calendar and to-do list, take a moment to really think about how you can be in this season. Present? Joyful? Grateful? Playful? Rested? Choose 1-2 words. Consider these your holiday 2023 values. Then, as you move to your list, ask yourself how each activity honors that value.

Take a weekly Sabbath

Reserve 1 day a week where you don’t do anything but rest. No parties, no preparing, and no shopping. Let these be the days where you leave room for surprises and connections, instead of having every minute planned. Maybe you’ll go for a walk and get to talking with a neighbor, and they’ll invite you in for a coffee. Maybe you’ll be at home when Christmas Carolers come around.

Let traditions grow over time

Resist trying to do everything your family did growing up in the early years. Start with 1 or 2. Remember that some traditions might be much less stressful to implement when kids are older and able to help out (like baking, crafting, and decorating).

The risk of not saying “no”

When I think about preventing holiday burnout, I picture one of those old oil lamps. If we don’t remember to add oil, than the light will burn out. Think of oil as the things that bring us deep joy and fulfillment, not just what makes us happy. Take a moment to check in with yourself. Make space for yourself because it will help you recognize what those things actually are.

Making sure our lamps have plenty of oil is what will get us through the inevitable struggles of the holiday season. Inevitably, one of your kids is going to throw up at the worst time. Odds are they’ll be wearing the expensive holiday outfit you splurged on. Those moments are going to be ten times worse if you are run down and exhausted. So put your feet up, mama! And let this season be the joy that you need in your world right now.


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