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Monday Mom challenge: Get ready for the holidays!

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...

...or as ready as possible

Despite your best intentions, it sneaks up on you every year. The holidays. One day it’s a lovely, relaxing fall day, and the next, it’s all out holiday insanity. Gifts, decorating, cooking, entertaining. It’s a sprint-paced marathon from late November to late December. This year, though, you really can be ready. Start now.

keep-holiday-stress-low

What does it mean to be "ready" for the holidays? Sure, it means different things to different people, but it really comes down to preparation: knowing what is coming, what you need to do and when it will be over. There will likely be some surprises along the way, but with careful advance planning, you can be ready for just about anything.

Mentally ready

The first step to being ready for the holidays is getting ready mentally. Thinking about what went well last year, what you might like to do differently -- and giving yourself a huge, giant break. As much as you want to make the holidays perfect for your family, perfect is likely an unattainable goal. No one -- not even you! -- can do it all. Recognizing that you will do your best, within the time and budget and personalities involved, is the best you can do -- and let the rest fall away.

Organizationally ready

Early is the time to make lists and check budgets and calendars. Reconciling what you want to do with what you can do before it's too crazy can help keep the holiday crazies in check. If you need to set a date for a family gathering, do it early. If you have a tight budget, make gift lists early so you can look for bargains -- and perhaps also set expectations accordingly. Plan now for special time with each of your kids, and plan your time so you can focus on the meaning of the holidays, not the stuff of the holidays.

Physically ready

When times get busy -- and especially around holidays -- it's easy to let the exercise and self-care go. It's easy to plan to get back to the gym in the new year, even though staying physically fit can help you manage stress better and maintain an even mood. Making time for your exercise routine and eating healthy food can help maintain your physical stamina to get through the holiday marathon.

The holidays are a wonderful -- and sometimes trying -- time for many moms (and dads). This year, be really ready for the holidays. Be ready organizationally, mentally and physically, and you'll be in good stead to have a your best holiday season yet.

More on planning for the holidays

10 Things you should do before holiday houseguests arrive
Say goodbye to holiday stress
5 Stress less tips for the holidays

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