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How to Cope at Christmastime

It happens every Christmas season. All your warm, fuzzy ideals end up in shambles, and you end up feeling frazzled and stressed. The easiest way to stay sane through the holidays is to set balanced expectations of yourself, your family, and your budget.

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Start the month right, by planning ahead. You can work on at least one thing a day to make the whole month easier for you to manage!

25 Ways to Stay Sane in December

1. Make Ahead Meals – Spend the first weekend filling the freezer with meals for your family. Less time cooking meals during the week is always a plus. Learn how to pre-prepare meals.

2. Freeze the Party – Cook what you can for Christmas week and Christmas dinner. The more you can have prepared before the rush and stress day of, the better your day will go. Holiday Freezer Cooking

3. Create a Gift List – Decide who will receive gifts and how many and keep the list with you. This strategy will help you create a budget and stick to it! Gift Ideas for homeschoolers Pinterest board

4. Read Great Books – Choose holiday classics to read aloud together. This can replace literature or history work for the day as well as add some fun. Holiday Reading List

5. Choose an End Date – Choose your last day of school before Christmas break and mark it on the calendar. If your children don't complete their work before this date, you can decide whether they must finish the work to earn Christmas break, or start the new year with catchup work to do!
6. Set Time Limits – Do the academics in the morning, with less structured afternoons. The afternoon can be scheduled for "practical geometry" as you wrap oddly shaped presents with your children, or "practical math" as they quadruple a cookie recipe. Get the hard parts out of the way early. 

7. Focus on Fun School – Focus on PE, Culinary Arts, and Home Economics. After several months of focused core classes like math, it could be refreshing to study easier topics like health. 5 Ways to Collect Christmas Credits

8. Do Less "Schoolish" School – Eliminate a workbook, textbook, or assignment this month. Maybe math can wait until January, or history can be learned through interesting documentaries instead of textbooks. Reading the story of Saint Nicholas and how he came to be Santa Claus could be counted as literature.

9. Swap School Strategy – Don't add any assignments unless you take something out. Christmas is a busy season to begin with. If you decide not to take a break for the holidays, be sure not to overwhelm your kids (and therefore yourself!) by adding subjects or assignments. Now is probably not a good time to add SAT prep on top of it all.

10. Set Your Budget – Christmas is not about money or gifts. You can give great gifts for little to no monetary cost. You can also spend quality time with your family instead of spending money. It is so important around the holidays to have a budget and stick firmly to it. We don't need to spend grocery money on stocking stuffers!! 3 Budget Christmas Gift Ideas

11. Prioritize Family – Sing, cycle, sled/toboggan, ice skate, watch holiday classics together, wrap presents, eat sweets, build a snowman (if you are blessed with snow), make a complicated recipe, or take silly pictures. There are endless ways to create priceless holiday memories with your family. My family sometimes makes this Chile Relleno recipe which takes an assembly line of people to accomplish!

12. Savor Sane Moments – One peppermint mocha or pumpkin latte can make a difference. If the kids are peacefully coexisting, take it as a win. When you have a moment to yourself, make it extra-long by taking a few deep breaths. You've got this!

13. Make Bake Ahead Treats – Bake sweet bread or cookies or freeze cookie dough to enjoy at a busy time of the season. Think of how simple it will be to pop the premade sweets out of the freezer and into the oven when it's busy. No new dirty dishes or flour on the floor. Just yum! Christmas Baking - Sweet Bread Recipes 

14. Create Family Traditions – Decide what memories you want to create for your child and work on them. Do you make ornaments or cookies together every year? Do you read the story of Jesus' birth? Maybe you attend special church services and grab hot cocoa after? These traditions create sacred memories. Be intentional about fostering them every year.

15. Practice Self Care – A warm bath, candles, and chocolate can change your perspective. Stretching and being intentional about your bedtime can help reduce fatigue. Walk in nature to reduce mind clutter as well as get in some gentle exercise. If you are empty, you can't pour into anyone around you!

16. Pay for Help – Hire a housekeeper, landscaper, babysitter, or helper for just one day if you are able. If you have emergency Christmas shopping to do, or if you need those lights hung NOW, this might be a big holiday help.

17. Focus on Family – Your mission is your family right now, so enjoy it without guilt. Are there dishes in the sink, but the kids are finally getting along and laughing? Who cares about the dishes! Stay and bask in the moment. Take some pictures and laugh along. A polaroid camera can be an especially fun way to capture memories!

18. Date Your Spouse – One babysitter for one night can help get you through the month. Finding time for you and your spouse to slip away together can be the difference between a "Silent Night" kind of Christmas and a "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" kind of Christmas.

19. Decorate Simply – Be realistic and choose what is easy to set up and take down. Setting up may be great fun, but in my experience, taking down after all the season is over is much less fun. Putting a Christmas tree in every room is not an attainable goal. 

20. Take it Easy – Not everything should be handmade; choose the easier way when possible. Hand knitting a sweater for each of your children, your spouse, and the family dog may sound fun and make cute pictures, but WHEW! That's a lot of work! Maybe the sweaters can come from the store this year. Look at this cute matching pajama set!

21. Watch Body Mechanics – Grab a chair and pay attention to your posture while crafting and wrapping. Bad posture and headaches from staying up too late don't make for a very peaceful Christmas season. Get help wrapping presents or just plop them all in bags! Be sure to use adequate light when crafting to reduce eye strain. 

22. Love Your Neighbor – Take a treat of baked goods and fruit to their door with a card and a smile. Keep in mind that your family is your neighbor too! Even though we sometimes don't like our families, we are always called to love them.  

23. Serve Others – Volunteer to serve or perform music at church or a retirement home. Take the family to a homeless shelter to volunteer your time. Visit shut ins and widows/widowers. Give toys to children in poverty. The Christmas season highlights the areas of need and struggle in the lives of those around us. Take time to give back this season. Volunteering Ideas

24. Set Aside Quiet Time – Use that daily reminder to keep your focus on what is most important. Plan margin in your day. Plan unplanned time into your week. This downtime will help your mind slow down to a healthy pace and help your body recover from running around getting things done. 

25. Just Say No – Politely but firmly decline opportunities that take your focus away from priorities. Setting and upholding boundaries will keep you from overcommitting, overspending, or staying in uncomfortable situations. Learn How to Say No in 3 Simple Steps
If you're looking for more Christmas decorating and baking ideas, check out my Holidays – Christmas and Winter Pinterest board. Have a blessed and more relaxed Christmas season this year!
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