Ready or not, here come the holidays! Aka the most wonderful time of the year! Right?

The holidays are my favorite time of the year. From the lights and the sounds to the joy and the Hallmark movies (so. many. Hallmark. movies), I honestly look forward to November and December all year long!

However, for the past few years, it has also been a huge source of stress, overwhelm and anxiety. Especially since decluttering my life & embracing minimalism!

With two months full of parties, family obligations, spending unnecessary money and trying to fit it all in, I felt myself starting to resent the holiday season. Not looking forward to dealing with all the things and wanting so badly to change it.

But last year? I took back the holidays!!

Here’s the thing: the holiday season only comes once a year and should be a time of making beautiful memories with your family, spreading cheer and giving back. It should be a time of happiness and of laughter. Of quiet moments and reflection.

But, somewhere along the line, this time of year became filled with to-do lists, running around and buying things that we don’t need or won’t use for the rest of the year. Sound familiar?

I made it my mission last year to truly enjoy the holidays again. To rip up my “must-do” list and cancel plans. To slow down and enjoy the little moments. To put my credit card away and not go into debt for “stuff.” And… it was amazing.

If you are like me and are sick of feeling stressed and overwhelmed during the holidays & are ready to enjoy this time of year again, then keep reading! Below, you will find five tips, from one mom to another, to FINALLY transform this season and make it fun for you – and your little ones!

Slow down

Think back to the holidays when you were younger. What pops into your mind? Maybe it is decorating the house with your family or baking pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving.

Or maybe it is wrapping presents and drinking hot cocoa. Whatever the holidays mean to you, or the fond memories you hold, take some time before the hustle and bustle of this season truly begins and reflect.

So many times, we are in such a rush to buy the perfect gift or bake the perfect meal, that we forget to slow down and really enjoy these moments.

Take some time, each day, to express gratitude for your life and the beauty that surrounds you. Decide what memories you want to create together with your family!

Say “no”

Since my daughter was a baby, up until two years ago, we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day running from one house to the next. My daughter never had the chance to sit and play with her new toys or stay in her pjs for as long as she wanted. Eventually, we were exhausted by this and decided to just stay home.

When we told our families? They were so angry. We fought and we yelled and people were so upset with us. We just needed a break.

For so many of us, there are people to see, places to go, plans to make and so much running around. But, do you know what happens when you do this? You miss the magic of the season.

When you are so busy and have so many things to do, you miss those special moments with your kids.

Mama, it’s okay to say no! If you need to take a break, do it. Take back the holidays and DO NOT feel bad for doing it. You may get some push back but it is important to do what is best for you and your family!

Make a budget & list for shopping (and stick to it!)

If you took a poll, I bet you 8 out of 10 people would say that money, buying and spending, is the most stressful and overwhelming part of the holiday season. Can you relate?

Especially when you have school aged children, you are expected to buy for all the teachers, dance teachers, instructors, etc. The list can get out of control if you aren’t careful!

In order to avoid this, make a budget and then a list based off of the amount of money you can spend. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, go into debt to buy presents!! Make a budget and stick to it! If you can’t buy for everyone, a beautiful card or homemade art project is just as meaningful.

Create a plan, fill out a calendar & include the kids

This one is HUGE and has made such an impact on our holiday experience. Before December hits, we sit down and fill out a calendar. We include everything we want to do, parties we were invited to, etc. Then, we decide on what we will do and what we won’t.

If every single day has something on it, we will start eliminating.

We also include my daughter in the planning! There have been times where we think she would love to do something but to her, she isn’t interested. When you include them in the planning, they have a say and you can see what they want and don’t want to do.

I don’t know about you but, when I have a plan of action and I can see my commitments scheduled out, it lessens my stress!

Talk about difficult family members you will see

Okay, here’s the thing: just because they are your family, doesn’t mean the relationships are easy. And during the holidays? You are bound to spend time with family members that you may not get along with or enjoy their company.

That is okay!

We like to have a dialogue and be open with each other about difficult situations or people we will be around. This also includes what to do if we are uncomfortable or our daughter is overwhelmed. Put together a plan for if you want to leave someplace early or need assistance from the other person!

Remember what the season is actually about

Last but definitely least, if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or the season getting away from you, take a minute and reflect. Block out everything else around you, the people, the things, the plans, and remember what this season is about!

It is not about the gifts. It is not about the shiny things. It is not about running around until you crash.

This beautiful season is about love. About gratitude. About slow moments and memories made.

If you are able to hold onto the joy and wonder of the season, I promise you will let go of the negative feelings that can creep up!!