Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


Before You Do Anything Else This Holiday Season, Ask Yourself This One Question

Photograph by Twenty20

Every year if feels like I’m doing too much for the holidays—and then the next year rolls around and it seems like I’m doing even more than I did the previous year. I’m tired before Thanksgiving weekend is even over and December looms with gift buying and wrapping, decorating and hosting, traveling and traditions. Instead of enjoying the holiday season, I’m looking forward to January and a chance to breathe.

I finally said “Enough” a couple of years ago. After spending the first few years of my kids’ lives in a perpetual state of exhaustion, I had grown tired of running myself ragged to create the “perfect” holiday, only to come down sick before the New Year even rolled around.

We all do too much, right? We’re moms, it’s practically a part of the job description to do so much that it almost seems magical. But there’s nothing magical about running on two or three hours’ sleep and packing so much into your schedule that you barely have a moment to yourself.

Before you do anything else this holiday season—before you bake one more batch of cookies or decorate one more Christmas tree or add one more acquaintance to your ever-growing shopping list, take a moment. Breathe. Look at your lists of to do and to buy and to bake and to decorate and ask yourself one question:

Will doing this make me happy?

I know, it seems ridiculous. Of course doing all these wonderful holiday things make you happy, right? The thing is, each of the activities and chores we do for the holidays might make us happy on their own, but when you add them to your list and try to cram everything into a month … not so much. Before you agree to one more thing this holiday season, ask yourself if doing this thing—now—will make you happy.

Holiday traditions shouldn't leave you feeling trapped into doing things you don't enjoy or that will sap your your energy and holiday spirit

Sure, it sounds like fun to go to three holiday parties in one weekend, but will it make you happy or will you be exhausted and cranky as Scrooge by the time Monday rolls around?

Agreeing to bake cookies for the work party potluck might sound easy enough, but will it make you happy to stay up until 2a.m. baking those cookies before a long work day—or would it be easier to buy a lovely tray of cookies?

Hitting the mall the weekend before Christmas might be a crazy, chaotic fun-filled adventure, but will it really make you happy to wait that late to buy the gifts the kids want, only to discover the stores have sold out?

Wouldn't it maybe make you happier to order those gifts online now and be done with your shopping?

Holiday traditions shouldn't leave you feeling trapped into doing things you don't enjoy or that will sap your your energy and holiday spirit. Many of us—myself included— automatically say "yes" to everything at this time of the year in order not to sound Grinchy and, let’s face it, because we don’t want to let anyone down. But the one we’re really letting down is ourselves.

By asking yourself, “Will this make me happy?” you are consciously choosing to change your own narrative for the holiday season. And putting your own self-care front and center will make for a brighter and happier holiday for all.

More from little-kid