3 Ways Parents Can Put Their Own Holiday Joy Front And Center This Year

It’s that time of year: parents are gearing up to work overtime to inject doses of joy into their family’s holiday experiences. With all that shopping, cooking, hosting, baking, planning, and wrapping, it’s easy to lose sight of whether you’re getting any satisfaction out of the season yourself. But take it from me, a mom of five and co-host of @TheMomHour podcast, Parents, you deserve a magical holiday, too!

Parents set the tone for the household—and by extension, the holiday. How you feel about the way you spend this time will absolutely affect the way your family feels about it—even if you aren’t consciously aware of the emotional transfer.

I don’t know about you, but if I had to choose between offering my kids a cheerful mom or more gifts, better cookies, or nicer decor, I’d choose cheer every time. Both because it’s better for my family, but also because it’s better for me. I’m a human being too, and deserve a joyful holiday—however that looks for me. Let’s not lose sight of that! Here are some ideas to help your experience get its fair share of the attention this season:

Find small ways to inject peace and joy into the magic-making you’re doing for others. Make that holiday to-do list in a festive coffee shop while the kids stay home with your partner. Wrap gifts locked in your room with a favorite podcast and your favorite snacks.

Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. Write down all the things you’ve done for yourself this week in one column, and the things you did for your loved ones in the other. Now compare the lists. It’s totally normal for the list of things you do for others to be longer, but this exercise can help you see if there are glaring discrepancies between the amount of energy you’re pouring into everyone else and what you’re leaving for yourself.

Give yourself permission to abandon thankless and exhausting traditions. I always find it interesting to check in with my kids about what they remember about past holiday seasons; it’s a good reminder that sometimes, the things I think everyone else is counting on may not matter that much to them after all. After you’ve freed up some time, add in something that gives you energy and delight.

Remember, this holiday-parent thing is a marathon, not a sprint. One day, the activities that seem impossible to pull off this year may just be doable again. In the meantime, make it manageable and find magic where you can, because your holiday joy matters too.