Confessions of a Guilty Holiday Mom

I looked forward to the college kids coming home for Thanksgiving break. I’m happy when each of my kids is in their beds at night. But I breathed a sigh of relief when they went back to school recently. Is something wrong with me?christmas stress

After talking with moms of teens and college kids, the answer is no.

Confessions of a holiday mom:

  • There are too many bodies in our house during vacation.
  • There are too many bossy teens to twenty-year-olds in the house.
  • There’s too much laundry, too many groceries to keep stocked and not enough time for sanity.

Along with these things, guilt lives at our house. Guilt for yelling. Guilt for needing time away from kids I love.

As our recent holiday vacation grew to a close, I found myself irritable and stressed at the revolving door of kids, activities and unpredictability of what was next. I was flooded at the amount of laundry to do, meals to prepare, Christmas decorations to put up, and ballgames to attend. I longed for time alone, all by myself, with no one talking to me, asking questions or telling me what to do. Do you ever feel that way?

My Facebook and Twitter statuses read “This mom needs a time out.” As a mom of four teens and young adults, I find myself as moody as they are.  Here are some tips that help me when I’m not the mom I want to be:

  1. Apologize when needed. Sometimes this requires wait time until I’m cooled down.
  2. Take a break. When I can, I get away by myself even if it’s running an errand or driving to nowhere. For me, it works for de-escalating my emotions.
  3. Do better the next time. For every time I mess up as a mom, there’s another moment to do better and try again.
  4. Ask for help and delegate tasks. A perk of parenting teens is that they’re old enough to really help when needed. I’ve learned to ask for help with holiday tasks that are time consuming, like putting up the Christmas tree. If things are emotionally stressful, take a coffee or shopping break with other moms who can relate. I feel better when I know there’s normalcy to my frustrations parenting teens and college kids.
  5. Lower your expectations. I want the Norman Rockwell Christmas with moments of laughter, family time, peace and happiness. But it doesn’t always live at our house. When kids fight or argue, instead being flooded by the “loser-mom” emotions, I tell myself that any enjoyable time we have together is okay, and that it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  6. Tell yourself it’s okay. When my college kids left and I felt guilty with relief, I told myself it’s okay I feel this way. Kids are meant to leave the nest not just for independence, but also for a parent’s sanity.

Holidays are stressful enough. I remind myself to enjoy the days I have with my kids, even when they’re irritating and stressful. These days go by quickly and I don’t want to take holidays or my family for granted.

What do you struggle with during the holidays? What are ways you cope with the stress of the season and parenting ten to twenty-year olds? We’d love to have you share!

 

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Brenda has a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a BA in education. She's a speaker, freelance writer, author, counselor and teacher who's spent two decades working with and raising teenagers. She's a mom of four, from middle school to young adult, and lives with her family on a farm in Indiana. She writes about life, faith, and parenting beyond the storybook image at Life Beyond the Picket Fence at brendayoder.com.

Brenda Yoder

Brenda has a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a BA in education. She's a speaker, freelance writer, author, counselor and teacher who's spent two decades working with and raising teenagers. She's a mom of four, from middle school to young adult, and lives with her family on a farm in Indiana. She writes about life, faith, and parenting beyond the storybook image at Life Beyond the Picket Fence at brendayoder.com.

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