Holidays stressing you out? Divorce is a time to start anew and a good excuse to notify others that one is simplifying their life.
Divorce can be the catalyst to spend more holiday time with your children and less on making the party rounds or stressing out about getting through your holiday “to do” list.
Below are 7 tips for reducing stress during the holidays:
1. Change your focus from a to-do-list to a let’s-have- fun-list. We check off some holiday activities as if they were chores. Scrap the list, start over, and decide what you and the children really want to do. Making seven kinds of cookies is deleted and baking loads of one kind, like gingerbread, makes the new list. Next year bake a different type or enlist family members to each make their favorite cookies and then share.
2. Decorating for Christmas is fun. Sipping hot cocoa while watching “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” and hanging ornaments on the tree is relaxing. The Christmas wonderland in your house is lovely, but contemplating putting away all of those baubles post-holiday, is not. Avoid that stress by this method. In January, have a fun place for lunch selected or a movie for a certain time. Enlist your little elves to gather the holiday decorations from around the house and put them in one place. Remove the tree decorations and box up everything for storage. It is almost a game at my house and we can get everything down, put away, and the naked tree outside, in one half hour. Then we go to our fun activity. No fuss or nagging.
3. Reduce holiday stress by telling people that since you are divorced, you are making some changes in your life. You are no longer buying presents for the extended family and a long list of acquaintances. You may hear sighs of relief when others tell you they had been feeling the same way. Suggest a simplified plan, perhaps just the cousins get small gifts or one for the whole family.
My friends buy a game for the families on their list. We were at the John Lewis store in London, where a salesman plays board games with the customers. The new ones were so enjoyable, that my friends got most of their Christmas shopping done right then and there in September.
4. Go with the flow. When we have too much scheduled, it is stressful and we are not focusing on the activity at hand. Mentally we are planning the logistics for the next several events, instead of being fully present in the moment. Do less and enjoy what you are currently doing, more. Have a flexible schedule with plenty of space, to allow impromptu fun to happen.
5. Run away from it all. Can you imagine not decorating, baking or planning holiday events? I have taken several holiday cruises, booking early for great fares. We dined on delicious food and goodies in a festive atmosphere. The concerts, shows and Santa Claus’s appearance were lovely. No fuss, no work with plenty of time to just hang out with my kids and mother.
6. Order take out from your favorite up-scale restaurant and treats from the bakery. Our bakery makes fabulous quiche and we moms line up for it to serve as easy Christmas/New Year’s Day breakfasts. A complete and festive meal. Short cuts are great.
Putting your feet up, drinking tea, while not cooking several huge meals in one day reduces stress. Do prep work the night before and heat up food before serving the meal. Cook a few main dishes and not an endless smorgasbord. I have several types of food on holidays and have fun activities at the table instead of a feast. We have the Christmas crackers with hats, silly jokes and a prize. My sons are over eighteen, so having holiday lottery scratchers adds to the festivities. My motto is more activities and less labor intensive food.
7. Delegate. There is less stress when you have a team of helpers with designated tasks. Consider having a holiday meal as pot-luck, perhaps assigning categories, such as appetizers, salad, or dessert. Get your uncle to be the bartender and your father to keep the fire lit. Little ones like helping out too and can take coats to the bedroom.