Recently I got a night out with a fabulous group of Mom’s who meet up regularly in my town. We went to see the newest release of the movie, a Bad Moms Christmas. Ruth, one of the leading characters played so perfectly by Christine Baranski, was a Grandmother who goes way over the top at Christmas. We’re talking excessive outdoor lights, a magazine worthy Christmas tree, wildly expensive gifts and a huge holiday party complete with a live performance from Kenny G. Ruth is your stereotypical A-type, and it was both hilarious and a little embarrassing to watch such a comedic exaggeration of my life.
“You’re a mom. Mom’s don’t enjoy, they give joy, that’s how being a mom works.” ~ Ruth from a Bad Mom’s Christmas
Although apparently not as good as the original, this sequel was about a group of overwhelmed moms at Christmas who decide to take back the holidays despite Ruth’s resistance. In the end, they all come to realize the true meaning of Christmas. (cheesy holiday movies don’t require spoiler alerts, right?)
It’s no secret that A-types are prone to self-induced stress and guilt. As the holiday approached, I slowly started to morph into a tame version of Ruth from the movie. I wasn’t renting camels or giving out Louis Vuitton swag bags at holiday parties, but my to-do list was growing rampant, and I found myself on a path of destructive productivity. The holidays are particularly challenging for an A-type. There are so many opportunities for perfectionism, traditions to be topped year over year and a boatload of extra work to be done, all before December 25th.
Not everyone may understand the inner workings of an A-type, but it’s not that simple to turn off and requires self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and self-control to chill the hell out. I mean, I know how the movie ends… I know what Christmas is all about and that Moms too deserve to experience the joy of the holiday season!
As I sit here with my self-awareness and invest all my energy to keep myself from repositioning the ornaments that were hung by my children on the same five branches of the tree, I began thinking about all the ways I practice beating the A-type out of me this time of year so that I too, can have visions of sugar plums dance in my head.
So here it is… an A-type’s guide to holiday survival:
There is nothing more soothing to an A-type than a list. Make that list and feel good about it. Even Santa makes a list and checks it twice! Sit down with your family and make a list together with the plan to divide and conquer. It will be less overwhelming if everyone takes on some of the holiday responsibility.
It’s a journey, not a destination
Yes, the goal is to get the tree decorated, but the fun comes from relaxing and enjoying the tree trimming with your family. Queue the holiday music, turn on the fireplace and sip on hot chocolate while you sit back to watch your kids break all your favourite ornaments.
Be flexible with traditions
In a previous post, I wrote about how I valued our family traditions and learned to adapt them to my new life circumstances. This year my kids are spending the holidays with their Dad, so we had to have the tree up, house decorated, shopping complete and presents wrapped, two weeks in advance for our early Christmas celebration. While I usually enjoy making a big turkey dinner complete with all the fixings, something just had to give this year. We decided to order Swiss Chalet festive specials instead so I could spend the day with the kids, and not in the kitchen.
One of my besties took on an advent gratitude challenge on social media this year, and I’ve really enjoyed her posts. When you take the time to appreciate the things you have, everything appears to be in abundance, and you need less to make you happy… because you already are! Carve out some time for reflection or when you begin to feel stress, train your mind to focus on everything you have accomplished so far and what you are thankful for.
I always enjoy buying gifts for my loved ones and especially the kids, but it’s easy to feel stress when shopping on a deadline among crowds of people fighting over the last Hatchimal on the shelf. Keep in mind that the toy of the year selling out is a first world problem. There are starving children in Africa with pop bottles for shoes and that life will go on with or without a Fingerling.
Do more of what makes you happy
Do you hate standing on a ladder stringing lights on the roof in the freezing cold? Then why are you doing it? Sometimes we get caught up in what we think the holidays should be or get stuck on what we have always done in the past. When you find yourself overwhelmed, challenge some of the things on your list. This is YOUR holiday. If you love baking, skip the lights this year and whip up a few extra batches of peanut butter balls!
Look for ways that you can cut back and be realistic about what you can get done in the timeframe you have to work with, so you don’t end up pushing yourself too hard. There is nothing worse than feeling too exhausted to enjoy the holiday party you planned or having illness strike from being too worn down. This year I decided I would scale back on decorating the house since we don’t have house guests. We also bought the tree from a lot instead of going to a farm to cut one down. Look over that list and look for places you can cut back to give you more time to enjoy. Every little bit helps!