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(Work at) Home for the Holidays: Reducing Holiday Stress

Christmas, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah should bring happiness--not holiday stress.


The holidays are supposed to be fun, right? But with holiday stress from all the extra work of preparing for the holiday season, we forget to have fun.

Childhood holiday memories stay with us our whole lives. So as parents, we want to be sure our children remember happy times, not ones filled with holiday stress.

As a work-at-home mom, I employ multitasking and advanced planning to manage the stress of balancing home and work commitments during the Christmas season.

Multitask to the Max

Multitasking isn't always a good thing, but during the holiday season efficiency at home and at work is essential. Try to think of ways big and small to combine functions. It really depends on your line of work, but some ideas include:
  • If you're buying a Christmas gift for several clients, buy one for a family member who might also appreciate the item.
  • Make trips outside the house count. Visiting a client? Stop at the mall on the way back. Purchasing stamps? Send your Christmas cards.
  • Pop out of your office every so often to stir the pot. Cooking some holiday dishes in advance can make the season so much less frantic, reducing holiday stress.

Lists, Lists and More List

If your kids have a Christmas list, why shouldn't you? Though the Mom's Christmas list I'm talking about is less fun because it is a "to do" list.

Sit down with your calendar and make a list of big upcoming events for both work and home. Then tag each entry with a things to do list. For example if you're having a holiday party, list the things to do for the party separately.

Keep in mind that the earlier you do this, the more likely it is to change (probably expand). But that's OK because the earlier you get a handle on your schedule, the better you will be able to deal with new events as they come in.

Then put together a master to do list organized by date. This will help you keep an eye on which work and home-related tasks could conflict or could be combined.

Shop at Off-Hours or Shop Online

Shopping at off-hours is one of the most obvious holiday advantages that many work-at-home moms enjoy. During the holiday season, if you have outside child care it might be more efficient to shop on a weekday when your sitter is there and work later. If your schedule is flexible, you might work on the weekend or at night.

Because you are home to receive packages, shopping online is easier for the work-at-home mom. But remember if your kids are home too you may have some tricky explaining to do. When my kids couldn't read, I always said the packages were for the neighbors.

Don't be Afraid to Pare Back

Contrary to what people may think, being a work-at-home mom doesn't mean you have loads of extra time for home projects. You, or others in your life, may have unrealistic expectations about what holiday-related tasks you can accomplish. So, the master "to do" list can help put it in perspective and reduce holiday stress.

Think twice before you promise to make that gingerbread house for the family Christmas celebration or to host Thanksgiving dinner. Self-employed moms, in particular, have to be careful about what we promise. Money or time can easily evaporate at a client's whim.

If you've bitten off more than you can chew, pull back. This may mean skipping a favorite tradition for a year, but the reduction of holiday stress can be worth it. Traditions don't die, if you skip them just once. In one particularly hectic year, I canceled our annual Christmas party. The relief of taking it off my task list far outweighed the sadness I felt about skipping it. And the next year our party was as big as ever.

Or Add New Traditions

In the ebb and flow of life, some things become easier over time. And that's especially true with kids. So try to recognize when your kids are ready for more or different holiday activities.

Cutting your own Christmas tree might have been out questions when your kids were toddlers, but by elementary school it can be a great family outing. Capturing that moment when they are the right age is important because they might be less interested when they are teenagers.

If you do have to cut out a favorite activity, like a party or travel, try making up a new, less time-consuming holiday activity for the family. And eventually it could become part of your annual holiday traditions.


Life is about the journey as much as the destination. Enjoy the holiday season, but also just enjoy life. Life doesn't come to a stop during the holidays. Make time for exercise or being with friends or a date with your spouse. These things will reduce your holiday stress.

And don't forget to make your own holiday wish list. If you need some ideas, check out this work-at-home mom gift guide. Find resources and fun ideas for each of these holidays:

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