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How moms can prioritize Christmas chores

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Christmas overscheduling

I don't know about you, but I am very, very stressed right now. My life already is rather crazy, but throw in a major holiday and it's almost a complete mess. Every day is scheduled, almost to the minute, and even then I don't know how all of it is going to get done. Find out some tips on how you can prioritize your schedule to avoid Christmas meltdown.

Christmas overscheduling

The truth is, some of it won't get done. And it will be okay.

As much as I try to be realistic when December is upon us, as much as I try to limit what I plan to do, it's always too much. Always. I scale back, I adjust expectations, and - still - it's more than one mom possibly can handle.

Most of the items on my to do list are things I really want to. No, really. They are things like finding just the right gifts for my family, making cookies with the kids, decorating the trees in the yard with lights, reading holiday stories with the kids, writing cards, and so on. They are things that make me happy in the doing and sharing. But these, along with the regular demands of life, are suddenly too much, and cause the muscles in my shoulders and back of my neck to tense up. I have a permanent crick in my neck during December.

And so now, in mid-December, it's time to stop, regroup, and prioritize what is left on the to-do list. And to ask for help where I can.  What else can you do to avoid Christmas meltdown?

How to Prioritize

Looking at your list, try to prioritize in two ways:

1. What absolutely, positively must get done in the next 10 days

2. What would really make you happy to do in the same 10 days

Things that aren't absolutely necessary can get pushed off to be done around the new year.

By this evaluation, the two big to-do list items that must happen are finding the right gifts for my family and making cookies with the kids. Exterior house decoration, while nice, isn't as high on the priority list. Holiday cards, though...well, I figure better to send in late December or early January than not at all (and last year we received a card around Valentine's Day with a cute sticker on the back with various greetings crossed out until it showed the one most timely).

No new commitments

This is also not the time to make any new commitments. Sorry, home room parent, but there is no way I can commit to making brownies for a party right now. Nor can I be positive that we'll make it to the Boy Scout caroling event on time (though we will get there).

Asking for help

While I have a tendency to feel like I have to do everything by myself, it's even worse at holiday season, and it makes no sense whatsoever. Now is the time to look around you and ask for help. I'm thinking family in particular.

My husband is perfectly capable of picking up some slack here. My kids can help, too. If it's going to make a difference to the relative sanity in the house in the next 10 days, then it's time to make it happen.

My husband can help get holiday cards ready, and the kids can help with gift wrapping and organization. They can help choose what cookies to make for that special time I do set aside, and can even just be available to put things on lists when my hands are full but my mind is still processing.

This last push of the holiday season will be somewhat stressful. It will. But by prioritizing, asking for help, and being realistic about commitments, I can make it through with a modicum of sanity. And I can enjoy myself, too.

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