The holidays are coming up – and while we want to create great holiday experiences for our kids – most of us are super stressed out.

If that’s you…I’ve got 5 tips to help you work through it and reset.

Tip Numero Uno

Don’t say yes to everything.

Easier said than done, I know. But the more you commit to, the more stressed out you get. There are some family functions you can’t avoid, but do you really need to be present at your second cousins step-daughter’s recital? The answer is no, you do not.

Here’s a quick litmus test – if you feel like you *should* be doing anything – that’s a think that you don’t have to do. It just creates animosity and bitterness in your heart. If you have to say no, just say your schedule is packed – and because you are taking some time for what my thirteen year old likes to call a “self-care day”, you aren’t even lying.

An example from my life: My husband and I work the Audio/Visual booth for our church, usually one weekend a month. We had exactly ONE weekend free this month, and decided that it was too much to book up every moment of every open day. So we opted out this month.Β 

I’m turning 43 this December, and the one takeaway I had from my 42nd year on this planet is that any time I feel I *should* do something, I need to reassess my motives and do what works for me, not what is expected of me.

Tip Number Two

Plan ahead.

As much as possible, stay up to date on what’s on the agenda for the upcoming days, and be prepared for it.

The worst thing about the holidays is a last-minute, “Oh crap, I forgot I had to make 87 iced sugar cookies for fill-in-the-blank”. If you know it’s coming, and you don’t have time for it – outsource.

Which leads me to…

Tip Number Three

You do not have to do it all. It might be worth your time and sanity to pay someone else to make those 87 iced sugar cookies for you. Like, I totally LOVE eating sugar cookies with soft frosting – but I do not make very pretty ones. It stresses me out, and takes all the joy out of the process.

This season is supposed to be about Joy, about love, about spending time with your family, and about reveling in the birth of our Savior. It is not about being Instagram perfect or making Pinterest-worthy cookies. Outsource that shit.

Tip Number Four

I mentioned self-care days earlier. You need to make sure to schedule one or five this holiday season. Spend a day vegging out. Or get you a massage. Or a pedicure. Or whatever makes you feel like you are taking time for you. You will feel less bitter and less like you are pouring yourself out for everyone else if you take the time for yourself.

Do not expect other people to take care of you – because it’s unlikely to happen the way you want it to. Just take some time and do what feels good for you.

Tip Number Five

At a holiday event that you can’t say no to? When it gets to be too much, take a walk.

When your in-laws (or crazy uncle Silas) are just too much, go for a little walk. The fresh air will clear your head, you’ll walk off some of that Holiday meal, and you’ll give yourself a little reprieve from the chaos.

For far too long we’ve put up with the holidays being something that we secretly dread. Let’s find joy in the season, and follow these 5 tips to keep your holiday stress free.