The Christmas holiday can be a time of joy, excitement, and anticipation. It can also be very stressful, especially for working mums.

Holiday get-togethers are also loud and crowded. Additionally, there are ongoing family resentments and feuds, as well as the possibility of having to live in spaces that are totally unlike your regular home.

On top of that, the Christmas holiday season is a very expensive one, even in an African setting. While most families here don’t do the whole Western gifts and decorations, the cost of travel, extra food, new clothes, and hosting can really add up in a hurry.

It’s also a big challenge when your domestic manager (DM or house help) goes on leave. Many women dread this.

  • For one, you may have to do the housework.
  • Or you may have to hire and induct a temporary DM.
  • But the clincher is when you’re not sure whether your regular DM will come back.

Combine all these and the holidays just get even more stressful!

In the previous post, I shared 6 ways to overcome stress during the holiday season. In order to enjoy the holiday season more, you also need to prepare in advance.

Here are some tips to help you have a less stressful Christmas holiday

1. Prioritize your self-care

Every January, I hear women complain that they need a holiday to recover from the holiday. The excitement, rush, and myriad of activities in December leaves little or no time for actual rest.

Self-care is one of the practices that get abandoned just before and during the Christmas holiday. This is more so if you’re travelling or hosting.

If you already have a self-care routine, find a way to keep at it during the holidays. You can scale things down or substitute them with simpler practices, but don’t abandon the habit altogether.

If you don’t have a routine, start one now even if it’s just giving yourself 30 minutes of rest during the day.

Check out these articles if you need to boost your self-care:

Also, remember to plan days off during the holidays. You can do whatever you want with your day off. Finally, consider giving yourself a day off before and after big get-togethers. You will definitely need it!

Going beyond the holiday season…

Additionally, you can have an annual self-care routine that’s purely for you. Plan for this in advance so that you can rest and recharge for longer periods during the year. The best thing about this annual routine is that it will help you be ready to handle holiday stress.

I have a 3-step annual self-care routine that includes a week-long Mumcation. This is a holiday with my mum and sisters where we book ourselves into a hotel or Airbnb and just chill. No children or spouses, and definitely no housework.

We normally have this Mumcation in July. This year, we had it in October and I’m still feeling the positive impact.

The other steps in my annual routine are:

  • Hosting the 28 Days of Loving Yourself Challenge every February since 2018: This Challenge helps all participants (myself included) focus on our self-care and self-love for a whole month.
  • Having mini-breaks on Mondays and over the weekends in November: The last quarter of the year is a busy one for me as my clients are busy wrapping up the year and preparing for the next one. So the mini-breaks help me recharge quickly.

Create your own annual routine so that you have scheduled self-care breaks outside of the holiday season.

2. Improve your nutrition now

It’s hard sticking to a healthy eating plan during the holidays. In the previous article, I mentioned that this is one of my biggest stressors when planning to travel during the holiday season.

Unhealthy foods are prevalent this time of year so it’s even more important to focus on your diet than usual. Be kind to yourself and keep your food intake as healthy as possible. You can also go on a healthy eating plan now instead of waiting to try and do it during the holiday.

One thing you’ll notice is that your energy levels will remain high when you eat healthily. You’ll also feel much better and not have to take many naps to recover from carb and sugar overloads.

Here are some tricks I use to eat healthy even during holidays:

  • During mealtimes, I fill half of my plate with vegetables before adding a bit of starch and some protein.
  • Eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly. This leads to feeling full way before I’m tempted to add more food. I no longer have second helpings as a result of this trick.
  • Filling up using nutritious drinks such as sugar-free herbal teas and water with lime, lemon, cucumber or apple slices.
  • Stocking up on healthy snacks and fruits that don’t raise my blood sugar levels. These include nuts, natural yoghurt, and fruits such as avocado, berries and apples.
  • I don’t take sugar and sugary foods and rarely eat wheat products.

Even then, there are a few times when I’ll get tempted and eat something unhealthy. When this happens, I don’t beat myself up. Instead, I acknowledge it, identify the triggers, and get back on track immediately.

It also took time to get to this level of discipline with food. But the pain was well worth it as I’m now off medication and now manage type 2 diabetes using nutrition.

Nutrition is a huge topic and I’m not an expert on it. I’ve learnt a lot as a result of being diabetic and share my experience for information purposes only. There’s also a lot of information online and you can get confused about which path to follow. Talk to a nutritionist or your medical practitioner before embarking on a diet of any kind.

3. Plan in advance as much as you can

Create your plans well in advance. This includes your travel, shopping, hosting, children’s school…everything you can think of.

If you have a partner, it would be wise to create and update this plan together so that you operate from a synchronised place. However, the reality is that many couples don’t plan together even when they are hosting or travelling together.

For many families in Kenya, the Christmas holidays go like this:

  • The man is in charge of ensuring that you travel and arrive at the destination safely. He also ensures the men in the family are well taken care of in terms of alcohol and hanging out together.
  • The woman is in charge of everything else. This includes preparing the children for travelling, shopping for travel gear, clothes, and groceries, and handling everything else in the home (the list is too long!)
  • Travel days are fun or stressful depending on how the couple handle it. But in most cases, mothers arrive at the destination totally bushed. On top of that, you have to take care of the children and ensure your family is OK at the destination.

Hosting doesn’t change things much other than the fact that you’ll not travel. But hosting also has its own stress factors, especially if:

  • You don’t have additional help during the holidays.
  • You’re in full-time employment.
  • You have children and will also host other children.

If you’re hosting, it’s important to find out the needs of your guests. Don’t wait for people to show up with personal, nutritional, or health requirements that you weren’t aware of. Ask them beforehand so that you’re prepared.

Avoid scheduling too much

Trying to do too much can create stress at any time of year. Be kind to yourself and:

  • Plan to see the people that are most important to you and skip the rest.
  • Give yourself days off.
  • Only attend the parties and events that are most important to you.

Strive for quality over quantity instead of burdening yourself too much.

If you have nutrition or health requirements

First, visit your doctor or medical practitioner in advance. Let them know that you’re travelling for the holidays or hosting people. Ask for their advice and create a holiday health management plan together.

Also, get extra medications, especially if you’re travelling. Don’t assume that you can get them wherever you’re spending the holidays. Keep your medication with you if you’re travelling by public means and also ensure that you notify the airline in advance so that you know the restrictions.

Additionally, talk to your host or hotel and let them know of your needs in advance. It would be best if you could have a video meeting so that you see the person directly. Follow up the conversation with an email so that they have a record for themselves.

Be candid during this conversation and let them know if there are foods you may need to bring just in case. Most people appreciate being informed in advance instead of you landing there with a list they have to fulfil.

4. Have a heart-to-heart with your Domestic Manager (DM) or Nanny

Many women get stressed when they imagine that their domestic manager or nanny is taking a long holiday. Social media and online forums are full of such discussions.

It’s now almost a fact that many DMs and nannies do not come back after Christmas. The hard part is that they don’t tell their employers that they won’t come back, hence the anticipated stress.

You may not want to have this conversation beforehand in case she tells you she’s not coming back. However, it’s better to have the conversation and prepare yourself in advance if she does tell you she’s quitting. Also, during this conversation, you will know intuitively whether she’s telling you the truth or lying if she says she’s coming back.

And if by chance you feel that she may be lying, then you can start making arrangements for a temporary solution before you go for the holidays.

Don’t let the “…DM or nanny may not be coming back” thoughts take away your joy. You can handle whatever comes. For now, have the conversation in a peaceful way. Then make peace with the fact that you will never know if she is coming back or not, and be OK with it.

5. Manage your finances

It’s important that you stay within your budget during the Christmas holiday. The holidays are stressful enough without creating more stress by overspending. Avoid the trap of believing that you have to spend a lot of money to make someone happy. Gifts are soon forgotten, but the bills can last a long, long time.

If finances are tight, pay as many of your January bills in advance as you can. Also, keep aside money for things like groceries and fuel. Reduce the temptation to spend this money by keeping it in a bank account that you can’t access easily.

The truth is that we tend to overspend in December. And another truth is that you can have a great holiday with the money that’s left over after you pay your January bills in advance or stick to a budget.

As an additional prep for the future, open an account for holidays and save some money into it each month. This will ensure that you have a less stressful Christmas holiday next year where finances are concerned.

6. Make the choice to be as happy as possible

Happiness is a choice and you can be happy even during a stressful season. Make a choice to enjoy the holidays as much as you can. Your attitude colours your perception so choose to be optimistic.

  • There will be good times and you’ll be more likely to enjoy yourself.
  • The holiday season brings chaos so expect some chaos, too. These can include bad weather, more traffic, travel, crowds, and more people than you’re used to dealing with in your home.
  • Also, expect that nothing will go as planned and decide to enjoy the holidays anyway. Chances are, things will turn out better than you thought they would.

Above all, be grateful

It’s easier to relax and enjoy yourself when you feel grateful. You worry less about the mishaps, inconveniences, and perceived slights when gratitude is in your heart. You have a lot to be grateful for so keep that in mind before, during and after the holidays.

One last thing…

Please don’t be the guest from hell if you’re being hosted or staying at a hotel!

Your host and the hotel staff are already stressed enough during this season. So don’t be the one to add to their stress levels.

Be courteous at all times, even when you have a complaint or need something done for you. Also, be kind even when you’re not happy or feel like blowing up.

If you’re being hosted, help out as much as you can. It’s easy to slip into holiday mode and ignore the fact that your host is also busy. Ask them what help they need, let them know which tasks you can take on, and keep your word.

Finally, if you’re staying with in-laws this holiday season and that is stressing you, have a look at this article for some tips on handling holidays with in-laws.

Over to you…

It’s possible to enjoy the holidays while minimizing the amount of stress involved. With careful planning and some optimism, you can have a great holiday season that you’ll remember fondly for years to come.

Use the tips in this article to make this Christmas holiday season the least stressful you’ve ever had.

(Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

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Need some help preparing for a stress-free Christmas holiday?

Making physical plans for the holiday can be a breeze. However, preparing your mindset to have a stress-free Christmas holiday may be out of your realm.

If you’re feeling stuck and unmotivated when you think of the holiday season, I can help in a private 1-1 Strategy Session. This session will help you:

  1. Get CLARITY about what to focus on before, during and after the holidays.
  2. UNCOVER hidden challenges that may be slowing you down or stopping you from achieving what you want.
  3. CREATE a 3-step action plan that you’re motivated to work on starting right now.

You’ll put your plan to work immediately and it does not require you to add more to your plate. In fact, you will find that you start clearing things out, delegating effectively, or handling your life and work differently.

I’ll also share with you a simple and highly effective process for finding peace at any moment. This is a process that you can do in as little as 5 minutes. Get started on it before the holiday season so that it kicks in for you when needed during the holiday.

You will leave this session renewed, reenergized, and inspired to enjoy a stress-free Christmas holiday.

Don’t struggle this year. Book a Strategy Session and let me help you prepare for and have your best holiday ever!

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