7 ways to reduce stress at Christmas

Do you wish you could enjoy the Christmas season? What if I told you I found some tricks to help the season be less stressful? Continue to read to discover 7 ways you can reduce stress at Christmas.

As a child, I used to LOVE Christmas! I loved the snow, the tree, the presents, and the food.

But, as I grew up and started having kids, I dreaded Christmas.

As a parent, the “magic of Christmas” fell on my shoulders. I got the right gifts, sent the cards, made the cookies, decorated the house, made dinner, shuffled kids around to all the activities, and so on.

The stress of it all was getting me down.

I didn’t enjoy buying presents just for the sake of it. I hated going to the mall in December and feeling all the rush.

Most of all, I hated feeling like I was not getting enough for my kids.

A picture of The Road To Christmas Family devotional pack. Next to the product mockup are the words, grow closer to God this advent. With this amazing bundle. Grab now. www.onedeterminedlife.com

Christmas Past

When our first daughter was born we had very little money. We could hardly afford to pay rent, let alone gifts for our kids or for our family. Yet, I felt like I would disappoint her if she did not have lots of gifts under the tree. Thankfully, our extended family understood our financial situation and so they gave us a pass on family gifts.

All these feelings made it so that when October rolled around, I wanted to fast-forward to January.

My kids were young, and we had many Christmases to look forward to. I did not want years of Christmas seasons to just survive.

A pile of Christmas gifts wraped in brown paper and tied with white and red ribbon. Under the picture are the words 7 ways to reduce stress at christmas. www.onedeterminedlife.com

Something had to give!!!

I made a few changes to the Christmas season to make it enjoyable for me.

These came over time, but doing all these things has made the entire Christmas season so much more enjoyable. 

7 ways to reduce stress at Christmas

Click the links to read how I used these strategies to reduce stress at Christmas.

1. Use November 

I used to get everything done in December but I found myself to be running around stressed out. So, I moved a few things to my November to-do list, and it saved me so much trouble. Click here to learn what I changed.

2. Minimize the number of gifts

When my kids were small, we had very little money but wanted to spoil our kids. That frame of mind made us overspend every year.

So, we decided to only give our kids 3 gifts at Christmas. Click here to learn why and if our kids love it or hate it.

3. Simplify tasks

I set high expectations of myself. Then when I can’t meet those expectations- I feel like I failed. One way to overcome this is to simplify tasks.

I do this by using some canned and boxed food for Christmas dinner and lowering my expectations.

A picture of The Road To Christmas Family devotional pack. Next to the product mockup are the words, grow closer to God this advent. With this amazing bundle. Grab now. www.onedeterminedlife.com

4. Simplify gifts to family

Once my siblings and I were living outside our childhood home- my father realized we were spending too much money on gifts we barely used.

He decided to start a new family tradition that cut out all the Christmas shopping and brought our family closer together. Click here to learn all about it.

5. Keep family traditions

When my husband and I got married, it was important to us to make our own traditions. We brought some traditions from our childhood and started some new ones. Click here to learn what family traditions we have kept.

6. Take care of yourself

When my daughter was born in September, I treated our first Christmas as any other Christmas. I watched movies with my husband every night and slept poorly for more than a week.

By the time Christmas day came around, I was spent.

My husband and I spent Christmas morning with our new little family and joined my parents in the afternoon. I was so tired I ended up sleeping most of the afternoon.

I didn’t take good care of myself. I stayed up late and ignored the fact my life had completely changed.

After that, I went to bed at a good hour and take time for myself. When I do that, I can enjoy Christmas day and it’s not as stressful or tiresome.

7. Make Christ the focus:

Once we had children, I focused on gifts and making their Christmas Special. After a few years of doing that, I knew something had to change.

Our hearts were not in the right place and our holiday priorities seemed to be out of whack.

That is when we focused on Christ during Christmas. We make the time to observe Advent every year. Doing so helps us remember what Christmas is all about.

To get started on observing Advent, check out this Family Advent Devotional Pack and Advent Bible Reading Plan.

In the comments below, tell me what you do to reduce stress at Christmas.

A picture of The Road To Christmas Family devotional pack. Next to the product mockup are the words, grow closer to God this advent. With this amazing bundle. Grab now. www.onedeterminedlife.com

2 simple tips for having a stress free Christmas

Christmas can be a stressful time of year. To help make the holidays more enjoyable and not be in such a rush, we made 2 changes to the Christmas season that have made all the difference. In this post, I will share 2 simple tips for having a stress free Christmas.

For most of my adult years, I had the idea that we must do all Christmas activities in December. It doesn’t help that my husband is very firm in this: Christmas starts in December mantra.

Doing everything I needed to get done in December made the entire season less enjoyable for me.

So, I changed my ways and started planning Christmas tasks and events in November. 

2 simple tips for having a stress free Christmas

1. Shop in November

In 2015, I was due to have a baby in late November or early December. The thought of bringing a newborn with me to do Christmas shopping made my head spin.

For the first time in my life, I planned on having Christmas gifts bought early.  In my quest to be ready at Christmas, I discovered a fantastic secret.

THE BEST TIME TO SHOP IS IN NOVEMBER.

One of my secrets to making Christmas more enjoyable is to shop in November. What I discovered is that in November, the stores were not busy, and they stocked the shelves with toys. These 2 things made the total shopping experience actually enjoyable.

Not only did I not have to fight the crowds for parking spaces, I easily found what I was looking for.

I had a list of items in mind when I went to the store and could be in and out in no time.

A picture of The Road To Christmas Family devotional pack. Next to the product mockup are the words, grow closer to God this advent. With this amazing bundle. Grab now. www.onedeterminedlife.com

2. Visit Family in November

The second secret to making Christmas more enjoyable is to spread out all the family visits.

I have many friends who spend Christmas Day or Christmas week going to 2-5 different Christmas celebrations. That routine never sounded fun to me.

In our house, we have never been close to both of our families so we don’t have to worry about sharing Christmas.

But December means work Christmas parties, school, and church Christmas concerts, friend Christmas parties and also visiting family.

I found that there were not enough weekends in December to do these activities without overbooking ourselves and feeling stressed out.

To balance our schedule more, we moved some of our events to November. The best time for us to visit our extended family was to meet at the end of November.

Why did we move our family Celebration?

We moved our celebration because we needed to travel from Edmonton to Calgary. Most of my husband’s family lives in Calgary. It is only a 3.5-hour drive from Edmonton.

With kids, the drive can take up to 5 hours. Add a snowstorm and suddenly we are celebrating the season on the shoulder of Highway 2. (just to be clear, that has never happened, but it is part of a visit nightmare)

But we still enjoy going to visit my husband’s family in Calgary because when we do we can celebrate Christmas with my mother-in-law and both of my husband’s siblings.

We love going to Calgary and visiting family. It has become a tradition that we love and enjoy.

A picture of 4 gifts wrapped in paper and boys In the background hands different lights and a tree. Above the picture are the words 2 tips for having a stress free christmas. One Determined Life

Conclusion:

The older I get, the more simple I want things to be in my life. That includes Christmas. I still work to make it special for my children, but I stopped worrying about the little things and became much better at managing our activities.

In the comments below, share some tips for having a stress free christmas.

A picture of The Road To Christmas Family devotional pack. Next to the product mockup are the words, grow closer to God this advent. With this amazing bundle. Grab now. www.onedeterminedlife.com

6 things You Can do To Create Memories

I love to create memories, but I hate getting my picture taken.

In this post, I want to share how I started becoming afraid and the 6 things I am doing to change my behaviour.

A mother holding her child. Both faces are facing the camera. The picture has text overlay that says: 6 things you can do to create memories

I am full of fear that I will look back and only see how fat and bad I look.

My continual negative thinking has kept me from creating and keeping memories for my kids.

Where did this fear come from?

As a Christian, I have been told that I should not think highly of myself.

This is thought using this verse:

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to
but to think soberly, as God has dealt  each
measure of faith.
Romans 12:3 (NKJV)

What does Humility mean?

When I have heard people preach this verse, I have always taken it to mean that I should think of myself as dumb, unworthy, low, small and so on.

But, as I have become older, I have come to realize that this verse is not telling us that we can’t think of ourselves as talented, beautiful, smart and so on.

What this verse is teaching us to consider ourselves next to God. The verse is a reminder to us.

People do often think of themselves as smart and they forget that they are not smarter than God.

The verse reminds us that we can think highly of ourselves but that we always need to remember that we are not better, bigger, or smarter than God.

I am slowly coming to understand that I can think of myself in positive terms, but it’s hard to change a mindset that I have had for so many years.

Consequences of low self-esteem

Having such low self-esteem comes with some consequences.

A years ago my mother turned 60. As a gift, my siblings and I  put together a book of memories and pictures of her.

As I was going through all the pictures I had of her, I realized that there were only a few pictures of just the two of us. We create memories but we have no evidence.

There were a dozen or so family shots and lots of pictures of us kids. But not many pictures of just me and my mom, or pictures of just her.

I love every single picture of my mom. In them, I see her love, her beauty, her character and so much more. The pictures bring back many of the memories we created and fill the memory blanks.

Why am I missing?

Today, we have cameras on our phones and carry them everywhere we go. We create memories of the food we have eaten and the flights we have taken. We take them out and document every aspect of our lives

But there seems to be a trend in the pictures I see: moms are mostly missing from the pictures. Moms are the ones taking the pictures and never in front of the cameras.

So I started to wonder why.

Every time I see a picture of myself I see my unruly hair, my makeup-free face. I see that my clothes are not in style and don’t make me look my best. The weight I have gained since having children is more evident.

I see so many other things that I don’t particularly like about myself.

The truth: I hate pictures of myself.

I am so used to not thinking highly of myself that my mindset keeps me from having my picture taken.

6 things you can do to create memories

1. Change my Mindset

When I think of the lack of pictures of my mom, I feel at a loss. As I get older, I don’t have easy access to my memories and I love looking at pictures and seeing things from the post.

Even though that’s how I feel about my mom: when the opportunity comes for me to have a picture taken, I shy away.

The exercise of looking through my old pictures showed me that I can’t let all my excuses keep me from having my picture taken.

I try to put myself in my daughter’s shoes 30 years from now and wonder if maybe she will wonder where all the photos of her mother are.

Maybe my children will want more pictures of me and pictures of me with them.

Instead of shying away from pictures, deliberately take pictures of yourself with your children and your spouse on a regular basis.

2. Remember the Truth

The first step to changing my mindset is to remember the truth.

I made a list of 3 truths I need to remember:

  1. Don’t let my fears stop me and to let pictures be taken of me.
  2. I have to remember that pictures of me are not for me. They are for my kids and other people who love me.
  3. I need to remember that my thoughts are ie: It’s all in my head. I might not like the way I look, but it’s a lie.

When my kids, or people who love me, look at pictures of me they find me beautiful and love me.

They love seeing pictures of me because it documents my presence in their lives and that I have loved them from the start.

Even bough I may hate most pictures I am in, one day, I will be thankful for them. Maybe not today, but 3,5,10 years from now I will look back at the picture and smile. I will forget that I thought of myself as fat or ugly, and the memory will make me smile.

As the saying goes: a picture is worth a 1000 words. For me, when I look at pictures of me as a kid or even pictures from yesterday, every one of those 1000 words is a story of that day or time. It’s a memory. One memory triggers another one and another and soon one picture has given me a treasure trove of memories.

So I choose to have my picture taken and I hope you do as well

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3. Set up for success

The best way to have your picture taken is to carry a camera with you.

If you’re like me, you have a smartphone with a camera on it. Take it with you. Not to use as a phone but as a camera.

If you can, purchase a hand-held camera. These will take higher quality pictures: ones you can print, frame and display in your house.

You also have to encourage your husband to take pictures of you. Hand off the camera and get in the shot.

4. Display pictures

Display pictures in your home or make a scrapbook.

Doing this will help you remember all the good memories and see how much you and the kids have changed over time. These pictures will also allow you to remember events together as a family.

Today there are so many options for printing and displaying pictures. Pick one option just do it.

5. Share the love

Share the pictures you have taken with family and friends.

If you love to create memories, then you should share them with others.

I have only made 2 scrapbooks, but my daughters love them.

They regularly ask me if we can look at them together and we then talk about the pictures.

6. Be Inspired by others:

I want to create memories and share them, but sometimes I don’t know where to start.

I am not always sure what I should share and how to share them. So, instead of trying to figure it out on my own, I look to others for inspiration.

Maybe you are the same.

If so, I have a few recommendations

Stop being afraid and start collecting memories. If not for yourself, for your children.

How do you create memories?

In the comments below, share your favourite picture of you and your kids.

Please share this post with friends and family

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Life Lessons from Kids: jealousy

Since becoming a parent, I have been learning some pretty awesome life lessons. This week, I learned about jealousy.

One of the things I love most about having kids is seeing them learn and watch them grow.

But, over the last seven years, my kids are not the only ones who have changed. I have too. Some change has come due to watching my children and seeing something in them that I am lacking.

Well, I learned something about myself watching my 4-year-old daughter.

life-lessons-from-kids

The scenario   

My eldest daughter has gone back to school. She just started second grade, and my husband wanted to have some special one on one time with her before she started. One Sunday after church they had a quick bite to eat and went on their way.

They left the house without much fanfare around 1:30. Since it was her showtime, my younger daughter did not even notice that her sister was gone. At around 4 pm, I called my husband to ask him if he was coming home for dinner and that’s when he informed me of their dinner plans.

He was in speakerphone so my 4-year-old heard the whole thing.

She had been missing her sister so she asked: where are you? What are you doing?

That is when my youngest daughter got the full report. She heard that her sister had seen a movie and was going to go to Wendy’s for dinner.

During the conversation, I was getting emotionally ready for a full-blown tantrum.

But it didn’t come.

Her response

When my eldest told her sister what she was going to have for dinner: a hamburger and fries, my youngest daughter’s response was: yeah!!

She was truly happy and excited for her older sister. Then, when she heard about the movie, she was still happy!

Her response blew me away.

My 4-year-old was excited and happy about somebody else’s good fortune.

My lesson:

Watching this happen made me ask a hard question.

How often am I truly happy for people when good things happen to them?

After spending some time thinking this over, the ugly truth hit me pretty hard. I am hardly ever truly happy for someone else’s good fortune.

When good things happen to people, my gut response is usually envy and jealousy.

Jealousy

As I thought about my daughter and started composing this blog post, I wanted to know: what is the opposite of jealousy? I wasn’t sure and actually had to look it up.

So I went to my favourite word sight word hippo and looked it up.

According to them, the opposite of jealousy is to be content.

Content: in a state of peaceful happiness, Satisfied with a certain level of achievement, good fortune, etc., and not wishing for more

When I saw the definition, I understood why my gut reaction is usually jealousy and envy. It’s because I don’t feel satisfied and I don’t feel like I have good fortune.

Other Parenting Posts

Contentment?

Since this all just happened, I still don’t have all the answers.

I truly feel like The Lord used my child to show me that I am not naturally content and that I obviously have some work to do.

God wants us to be content.

Philippians 4:10-13 NKJV

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Ask yourself these questions:

  • When good things happen to people, am I truly happy for them? Why/Why not?
  • What steps can I take to be more content with my life?

I hope this challenges you as it did me.

In the comments, let me know what life lessons you have learned from your kids.

Please share this post with friends and family. Thank you.

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