Burned Out for the Holidays

holiday burnout“It’s 12 weeks until Christmas!” my kindergartner excitedly announced.

My heart stopped, raw panic coursing through my veins. “No, no, no, no!” I thought.

Images of holiday cheer flashed through my mind. Baking. Agonizing over gift guides, shopping for picky family members. A million events (some at the same time). Kids off school during my and my husband’s busy seasons at work. Trying to make holiday magic. Coordinating family visits. Butter shortages. GUILT.

Sometimes I fantasize about completely opting out and going on a tropical vacation instead, but there are too many days. If it was JUST Christmas, I could say “Hey! Jesus is the reason for the season!” and cut the fluff. But no — once October hits, it’s just a freight train barreling over you straight into January. Halloween! A trunk or treat every night of the week! Decorations! Costumes! Fall festivals! Thanksgiving! Advent calendars! Christmas programs! Lights! Decorating! Parties! NEW YEAR, NEW YOU.

(Don’t forget to throw in the stomach flu the week of the Christmas program!)

I didn’t always feel this burnt out. I even optimistically wrote a post a few years ago about intentionally planning your holiday activities to avoid burnout. But I didn’t realize when you have zero margins how hard it is to add anything at all to your plate.

Because that’s it, right? As parents, our plates can get SO full that there isn’t any room for anything extra. As moms, I know we usually take on a lot of the emotional labor — taking photos, sending cards, shopping, organizing the celebrations and meals, making sure each and every relative is checked off and happy, not to mention moving the creepy elf every morning.

It’s like you’re already dropping half the balls you’re juggling, and someone throws more at you so you just drop all of them and have a nervous breakdown.

I would love to end this with advice — how I figured out the holiday burnout secret and am now zen and coasting through the holiday season. We did scale back our holiday activities even further this year (Halloween got ONE night, not five) which has helped a little. I will try my best to not make six separate pies for eight people for Thanksgiving. It’s hard though when there are so many events and traditions that you really do want to happen. But there is always next year, right? And it’s okay to shop early, to skip the elf, skip the matching pajamas, to buy the bakery-made pie, and to not visit every Santa in town.

I recently Googled “holiday burnout tips for moms,” and there was a lot of info about meditating and hot baths and going on leisurely walks. I don’t have time for that, so I guess it will just be a glass of wine and scouring holiday gift guides, shopping for Christmas program outfits, and trying to figure out which parent is attending which class party.

‘Tis the season!

Allison Lore is a California native who is thrilled to be back in the year-round sunshine after a decade of living in the Washington, DC metropolitan region. She has a background in journalism, technical writing and marketing, and currently works as a proposal manager for a civil engineering firm. She relocated to Jacksonville in 2017 with her husband and son. Her passions include baking, coffee, reading and socializing with friends. Her toddler has taught her more than she ever thought she would know about the nuances of construction vehicles.


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