A few weeks back I sent out an email to my community of Moms asking what their usual Holiday Challenges were. Below are the top 5 questions busy mothers are grappling with, and my 2 cents worth on how to de-stress December and make your holidays happy ones.

How do I make time to do holiday related tasks in an already overfull schedule?

This is the mother question of all questions. Simply put: too much to do, too little time. Ultimately the answer to this question lies in one word: CHOICE. That’s right, it is about picking and choosing what is most important to you combined with feeling empowered to say no.

It is about recognizing that you can have it all, but maybe not right now.Click To Tweet And maybe not this holiday season!

Step 1. Take stuff off your overfull schedule. Ask yourself: What can wait until the new year? What can I delegate or outsource? Where can I lower my standards? What is in alignment to my top 3 holiday priorities this year? And what isn’t? (Say yes to the first, and say no to the second).

Step 2. Get help. Delegate and/ or outsource on childcare (play-date swaps included), cleaning, cooking.

Step 3. Cut down and simplify your holiday related tasks. Less doing, means more being. Make sure everything on your list is aligned with your top 3 holiday priorities, and if it isn’t, cross it off the list and reconsider it next year.

How do I know how to let go of the “perfect” holidays?

If creating the “perfect” holidays is stressing you out, it means that the “perfect” holidays you are striving for are, simply put, not perfect holidays for you. It means you are looking in the wrong place for perfect. Ask yourself, where this idea of perfect comes from? Am I trying to live up to others expectations? Past experiences? A gift card version of the holidays?

Then, recognizing the beauty of imperfection, redefine your perfect by taking a moment to define what is most important to you this year – your top 3 priorities. Identify these and define ways to make them happen for you. Identify what you are stressing out about that are not aligned with these priorities and take them off your list.

How do I stay present with all there is to do (cards, gifts, wrapping, holiday spirit activities)?

Once you’ve aligned your to-dos with your priorities, there will be less to do. This means 2 things. First, it means that you can create space to explicitly be present doing what is most important to you. (I call this planning for presence – see next FAQ). But it also means that you have the clarity and mental space to switch from automatic-pilot-tick-the-boxes mode, where you are focused on what needs doing next, to focusing on what you are doing in-the-now.

I’m not suggesting that you make amazon shopping a zen-like experience, but with just that extra bit of time to write cards or wrap gifts, you can make it a more purposeful experience. Light the candle, put on the music, brew the tea and get into the card writing or gift wrapping.  Consciously creating time and space to write cards, choose and buy gifts, wrap them and be with friends and family will help you to make “all there is to do” into more enjoyable holiday rituals.

How do I create and focus on time with family (significant other included!) instead of rushing around trying to do too much?

Again, this is a question of planning for presence and in so doing, aligning your plan with your priorities. Being organized is key, but if beginning your holiday planning in September doesn’t feel quite right to you and you lean towards perfectionism, you will need to say no to certain things and yes to others.

How do you say yes to time with those you love? Schedule it in. Introduce simple rituals – dance parties, gratitude sharing, daily hugs, lie-in-front-of-the-fire cuddles – into your December days. And enter these with the intention of being 100% present.

How do I make time for self-care (without feeling guilty) over the holidays?

Your first big challenge here is making a perspective shift. If you feel guilty putting yourself first, remind yourself of 2 things: #1 On an empty tank, you cannot take anybody anywhere. Keep your tank full. And #2 Modelling lack of self-care is not the example you want to offer to those you love. You want them to take care of themselves when they are busy mothers or fathers. You know that self-care will make them kinder, gentler, happier parents. And the same is true for you.

Now whether you believe all of the above a little or a lot, take baby steps in scheduling self-care into your December. Make this priority #1 because without it, you won’t be able to fully enjoy any of your other priorities. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. A walk in the park, a bubble bath, 5 minutes of mindful breathing or stretching…

Hoping this helps you to gain perspective and free yourself of unnecessary self-induced stressors!

Now over to you. Please leave a comment below or hop on over to my Facebook page to share your challenges and/or any suggestions you have for other Moms on de-stressing and self-loving over the holiday break.

Ultimately, the roots to these challenges lie in the 5 stress-induced mistakes most moms make over the holidays. (Check out a blog I wrote on this a few weeks back).