Mama’s Mental Load During the Holiday Season

On any given day, my mind is racing a mile a minute. Reminding myself mentally to do my son’s laundry…and my own laundry. Making a mental grocery list. Figuring out what my son’s going to wear to daycare tomorrow. Making sure I remember what’s on my work to-do list. Is it time to pump again? What time did I breastfeed last? When’s my husband’s birthday again? What am I going to wear to work today? Where’s my phone? Did we feed the dog? And all these thoughts and more probably occur within 30 seconds…and then they keep going. And going. And going.

Well, take all of that and add the stress of the holiday season. Everyone’s version of holiday stressors looks different, but it’s stressful all the same.  And mamas often shoulder a big chunk (if not the whole chunk) of it. Their mental load during the holiday season weighs a ton of bricks. Budget, time, traveling, hosting, decorating, planning…the list goes on. For me, it’s usually all the above and then some. This year, we’re taking some of those off the table personally due to COVID, but I’m still already feeling the strain.

So what’s the fix?!

This might sound easier said than done, but PLAN AHEAD.

I started putting together my holiday gift giving list in November. If you haven’t written down everyone you need to buy gifts for…stop reading this right now and jot it down! Make a note in your phone or write it in your planner…whatever works for you. Just do it. Making a LIST of all those you need to do holiday shopping for helps you get ORGANIZED, and being organized alleviates how much your brain actually has to remember. We all know #mombrain can only handle so much!

Once you have your list, figure out your BUDGET. There is no buzz kill worse than getting your bank or credit card statement at the end of December and seeing a scary number! You should be riding the high of the holidays and feeling all the joy – not stressing over your credit card bill. Figure out how much you want to spend on each person BEFORE you start shopping and stick to that budget. As you are shopping for gifts, look only within your price range for that particular gift. Not only does it help narrow down your plethora of options, but it ensures you stick to your budget and get your shopping done QUICKER. Less options means less time in the decision-making process. 

…which leads me to TIME. Use a calendar. You can use the calendar app on your phone, a physical wall calendar, a planner, or whatever works for you. Schedule your month! It’s the beginning of the month right now, so it’s the perfect time. Moms are busy and the holiday season just adds to all the busy. Schedule AS MUCH as you can in advance, including when you’re going to shop, pull out all your decorations from storage, do any family traditions, etc. By doing this, you are essentially giving yourself the gift of TIME. You are making sure you don’t miss anything and maximizing your time as efficiently as possible.

There is one common theme with all my tips above on easing the mental load on mamas during the holidays…WRITING STUFF DOWN. In general, whether it’s the holidays or not, a brain dump is exactly what you need sometimes to stay sane. What the heck is a brain dump? For some, it’s list-making; for others, it’s journaling. A brain dump is essentially an activity where you put all your thoughts onto paper as a stream of consciousness. This reassures your brain that YOU WILL GET IT DONE so you can stop WORRYING.  I do this nearly every single morning. I even set an alarm on my phone to remind myself to do it just in case the morning gets crazy and I forget! For me, I brain dump a to-do list for the day in my planner. I like using my planner for this because I can jot down something to do on a specific day in the future, too! This way, I KNOW I won’t forget when that day comes and my mind can stop worrying about it NOW. The more mental space you can create for yourself, the better you will FEEL. I promise!

Now, go take these tips and have a stress-free holiday season! If you need a gift-giving idea for a breastfeeding mama or a mama-to-be, an Ailana J. gift card is a one-size-fits-all solution! Your loved one can pick exactly what they want in the size they need to make their breastfeeding journey EASY + FABULO

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