Get the Picture: The Five Steps to a Successful, Stress-free and Happy Holiday

You’re shopping, cooking, planning, budgeting, wrapping and otherwise stressing to fit everything in to create a perfect holiday.

STOP. Take a breath. Read this. The map to a happy holiday will not only help you evaluate this season, but can help you stay focused year-round.

1.  Be a “man with a plan”, or in this case, a woman…Happy mother and baby decorating christmas cookie house in kitchen
2.  The only thing you really HAVE to do each day is eat, sleep and breathe, everything else is a choice.
3.  Memories, not Things
4.  Kodak moments
5.  Hit rewind

Let me elaborate:

1. Have a plan: Make Today Count by John Maxwell is one of my favorite books. In it, he goes into great detail about, interestingly enough, Making Today Count. Definitely recommend reading it, after the holidays. But the core idea is that success and happiness are dependent on living life intentionally, in essence, having a plan. If you don’t know where you are going, it is much harder to get there. So, (the action), start the holiday season, and if possible each day, by taking 30 minutes to define what success looks like to you. Make a list of the things you have to accomplish in order to look back at this season and smile.

2. It is okay if at first that plan contains a list that looks like Santa’s toy list, 18 miles long. But then, (the action) step back and say, out loud, “The only things I truly HAVE to do each day are eat, sleep and breathe.” Now read the list again. What can you cross off? What things are on there because others say they “have” to be. Your life is your own, you get to decide what to do with it to make yourself truly happy. What truly HAS to be on it for you to look back and smile?

3. Think back on your childhood. Can you name every toy you received? What memories make you look back on your childhood with warmth and love? We remember MOMENTS and experiences, not THINGS. It is especially important to remember this idea if money is really tight for you this year and that is a big stressor. (the action) Baking cookies, lighting the Menorah, sledding on Art Hill. All of those things are essentially free and are the substance of what fills our childhood with warm and with loving memories.

4. Take pictures. Take pictures with YOU in them. (the action)Talk to your husband, boyfriend, your mother ahead of time and ask that their gift to you be that they make sure this holiday, you are in many pictures. No make-up? Gained 5 pounds? Get in the picture. If tragedy struck and you were gone tomorrow, would your kids care if your hair is a mess or would they just want you with them in pictures?

5. Hitting rewind is the key to parenting, no matter what the issue. (the action) At the end of the day, at the end of the holiday season, take time to reflect. What worked? What was a terrible mess? As Dr. Phil says, “How’s that workin’ for you?” All too often, out of necessity, we rush through the day, go to bed and repeat. Without reflecting, we are likely to repeat the same habits that don’t work for us as parents. Much of parental stress can be alleviated if we just step back and look at what worked and what didn’t. Repeat what worked. Delete what didnt, replace it with a different plan. This gives us the opportunity to slowly “tweek” our parenting to move toward a picture that looks like our definition of “happiness.” Ellen Miller says, “Live Intentionally and Leave a Legacy.” If you have a map in your head of what the road to holiday happiness looks like and you refer to it often, you are much more likely to reach your destination.

Kelly Ross, M.D. About Kelly Ross, M.D.

Kelly L. Ross, MD is an assistant professor in the Department of Newborn Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and a pediatric hospitalist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She also serves as Director of Pediatric Hospitalist Medicine at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. As mother of premature triplets, Dr. Ross’ clinical interests include multiple birth, neonatal prematurity especially the late preterm infant and post partum depression, especially as it relates to high risk pregnancies. She is the Medical Director of Mothers of Supertwins (MOST), an international organization that exists to support families who have triplets, quadruplets or more. Dr. Ross is also a member of the MOST professional advisory board. She has co-developed two educational videos about multiple birth families, has been featured in a TLC documentary about a family of quintuplets, interviewed by Newsweek, Pregnancy magazine and various other local news programs and is currently editing a book for couples expecting triplets or more. Dr. Ross is featured on a monthly email from Babycenter.com and along with her hospitalist group, runs a health information discussion group on momslikeme.com. Dr. Ross served as a consultant on a National Institute of Mental Health-funded grant to educate medical professionals about post partum depression.

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