DECEMBER is rough. Granted, a relief comes with winter or holiday break. But, boy oh boy, December sure wipes me out.
I guess it is all the things. Shopping, cooking, lesson planning, making parent gifts, planning parties, baking….
I love and loath it all at the same time.
Over the years, as I have become
older wiser, I’ve learned that I cannot and should not be doing it all. It makes my December stressful, when it is supposed to be a joyful time!
So, here are my tips for keeping Holiday stress down (just so you know, this list is also to remind myself – cause getting caught up in the hustle and bustle is easy to do!)
- Don’t feel the need to go overboard. No, seriously. Simplicity is key. Your classroom doesn’t need to look like Buddy the Elf came and decorated it one night. Your presence is so much more valuable than how big of a present you give your students. You don’t have to do all the cool holiday things you see on Pinterest – keep it simple to keep stress down.
- Don’t just decorate to decorate. Sure, you may LOVE yourself a Christmas Village or a huge beautifully decorated tree. But, remember… they have no place in a classroom unless children can touch and explore them! Do the decorations you put up for the Holidays have a child-centered purpose? Can children decorate the tree themselves and make their own ornaments? Is your Christmas village non-breakable and used in block play? If not, think about whether decorating is a good use of your school time.
- Start your parent gift early. Seriously, this happens to me every year… I start my parent gifts (the ones students make for their parents) and have one child that is absent the day we start working on them. Cool, I’ll catch them the next day… Nope, out again. Well… the next preschool day the student returns (it’s the last day before break and party day, btw). But, if they make a gift it will not have time to dry. They are upset, so I have them make the project and end up wasting time holding the darn thing in front of the blowdryer to get it dry in time to go home. Been there? START EARLY. Like earlier than you think is even needed… I might have learned this the hard way.
- Ask for help (and donations)! I am an ‘I can do it all’ type of person… I don’t need your help- I can do it myself. As I reflect on that it sounds like I’m two years old! Sure, we can all do it by ourselves… but why add on that stress? In our program we have so many wonderful parents that are willing to help. I also have amazing colleagues that are willing to share supplies, activities and books. Don’t be like me… don’t do it all. Ask if you can use an activity another person is doing (and lend yours too). Ask your parents for help prepping activities or gathering materials. We do a Holiday Shop every year in our Drama Center and I go through a ton of wrapping paper and tape. So, I asked parents for some items and boom – donations aplenty!
- Enjoy the time with your littles. Reality is… about half the school year is over with your littles. Take time to enjoy them. See the joy in their faces, suck up their happy energy. Because when you push all the activities, parties, and festivities aside… it’s who you spent that time enjoying the matters the most.
Do you have any stress reducing tips for me this Holiday season?