This was supposed to be fun!
You revived traditions from your childhood, searched new ideas on Pinterest, and scoured all the online shopping sites. The pantry is stocked with ingredients for gingerbread houses, hot chocolate, and cookies. You’ve gathered craft supplies, printed a plethora of papers, and run back to the store. The house has been cleaned, decorated, and cleaned again. You’ve been collecting books, reading reviews, and buying soon-to-be new favorites. The homeschool lesson planner is filled with unit studies, nature studies, and book studies for fun-filled Christmas studies.
Today, you simply attempted a leisurely morning time by the Christmas tree.
In your home, morning time might consist of a simple read-aloud novel, fine arts or crafts, nature study, or a devotion. Maybe you enjoy hot chocolate, popcorn, and the warmth of a crackling fire. Whatever the specific details, you intentionally prepared a lovely time to enjoy together with your children.
But somewhere in between hot chocolate and page number one, it happened. . . A complete mom meltdown.
You see, the morning started with a crying baby far too soon before dawn. Coffee spilled over the counter and dripped down to the floor. The older kids fought over whose turn it was to empty the dishwasher. The burned oatmeal ruined hopes for a tasty breakfast. And your teenager just didn’t want to join in the together time.
You stayed patient for hours. But that last straw was just too much.
Or maybe your mom meltdown occurred during family photos, cookie baking, or driving to the Christmas Eve service at church. Regardless of your family’s personalized interruptions and disruptions, mom meltdowns are certainly a hazard to your silent nights and peace on earth. Mercy mild? That’s certainly hard to pull off in reality.
This Christmas can be different.
Let’s be wise moms who look ahead, admit our potential weakness, and take intentional steps to avoid a mom meltdown during this Christmas season. If we make intentional choices now, we can prevent heartache and regret for ourselves and our families later.
1. Identify your danger zones
Think back to Christmas last year. When were you most likely to walk the brink, or fall completely off the edge, of a meltdown?
Perhaps you have a strong tendency to lose your cool when your expectations aren’t met. You might have beautiful plans for capturing family pictures, reading quietly by the fire, or decorating the tree with Christmas music and no bickering. But reality isn’t always a Norman Rockwell scene.
Your danger zone could be when you haven’t slept or eaten well. I know I can become a Grinch when I’m physically exhausted and not well-nourished, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. If this is a potential struggle for you, too, plan now to prioritize taking care of your basic needs. You’ll set yourself up to be the mom you really want to be.
Maybe it’s a lack of routine, clutter and dirt, or an over-filled calendar. Different moms have different triggers, so it’s essential we each know our own danger zones. Stop. Think. Identify a few of yours. Awareness is a huge step toward remaining calm.
What are your primary danger zones for a mom meltdown?
2. Prioritize traditions in case you need to abort
How many traditions does your family have for the Christmas season? We might be surprised if we listed them all on paper! (Hmm…that could be an interesting idea to try.)
Jesse tree, stockings, decorating the tree, gingerbread houses, Advent, shopping, cookies, parades, tree lightings, visiting Santa, traditional meals, elf on shelf, and Happy Birthday Baby Jesus.
What would happen if you have a life interruption this December and you just can’t manage to accomplish them all? The disappointment and frustration could trigger another mom meltdown.
Our family has experienced several rough Decembers. We’ve had multiple hospital stays, cancer care-giving, and moving homes – all in the season that we think should be nothing but jolly. Over time, I’m learning to let go of some traditions, and our family’s Christmas is becoming more restful.
This might be the year that you, too, need to abort a few of your plans. Ok, maybe keep the meals – or everyone will become hungry grinches. But seriously, in light of eternity, consider what would actually happen if you skip something.
Which traditions are most important to your family?
While those first two tips require a bit of honest soul-searching, the next two are a bit more simple. Sometimes we merely need to remind ourselves to intentionally slow down.
3. Allow yourself to enjoy something restful every day
Keep this very simple. Select a new devotion book. Read a bit of a novel. Revive an old handicraft. Light a candle. Sit still and enjoy a cup of tea.
This activity doesn’t need to be long or complicated. It’s much better if it’s short and simple. Just try to be consistent. Allowing yourself space to breathe will certainly improve your odds of staying calm in the midst of any chaotic circumstance.
What one restful activity can you plan to enjoy every day?
4. Embrace a simple habit for your family
While I recommend enjoying something restful for yourself every day, this tip is a little different. It doesn’t need to be every day. You need space to breathe consistently. But the pressure to pull off the same family activity daily can wear out our emotions.
Choose something simple you can enjoy together repeatedly. Then do it most days, but not all. Your family’s favorite might be reading a book, playing board games, watching a show, singing carols, looking at family photos, or hanging a countdown paper chain.
What simple habit would your family enjoy?
But finally, our most important reminder:
5. Don’t forget Jesus
Who would forget Jesus on His birthday? Yes, even the mom who loves Him with all her heart. While many of our traditions are intended to honor Him, even Jesus-centered activities can exclude Him.
Have you ever been filled with anger and spewed hurtful words in the midst of a Jesus-focused activity? If a tradition or activity does not promote the fruit of the Spirit in your heart, it might be best to allow it to fade.
How will you intentionally keep Jesus at the center of your Christmas?
Mom meltdowns are far too easy to encounter in this fun-filled, fast-paced season. But you can plan now to intentionally avoid these regret-filled, emotion-controlled moments.
Be honest with yourself and identify your personal danger zones. Prioritize your traditions in case life disruptions insist you abort some. Allow yourself a simple, restful activity each day to have space to breathe. Embrace a simple habit for your family to enjoy. And finally, don’t forget Jesus.
Oh. . . and if, by chance, you do happen to have a mom meltdown? Confess to your family, give yourself grace, and continue enjoying your Christmas season.
Aimee Smith lives in daily tension between God’s call to work in the trench of motherhood and His call to rest as His daughter. She faces each day with tenacity as she teaches her four children (ages 9-15) and leads in her local homeschool community, all while fighting chronic illness. Join Aimee at www.aimeesmith.com for strategies to cultivate victorious rest in the midst of your trench.