Christmas is stressful for moms!

Yep, I said it. You were already thinking about it…

Many people find Christmas challenging due to various issues. Family problems, money issues, and time with family and in-laws are just a few of the things that plague us.

What if I told you that you don’t have to continue in this vicious cycle of parties, spending, programs, and cookie-baking until 3 am? You can take control of your schedule and actually enjoy this holiday season in peace.

How is that possible, you ask?

Check out these solutions to your worst holiday problems and find ways to enjoy the season with peace and joy.

RELATED: How to Have Healthy Family Relationships When Your Family Is a Mess

Why Is Christmas a Difficult Time For Moms?

Christmas is stressful for moms because we have all these great expectations for us to do as a family.

For some odd reason, we think,  “This year, my family is going to sip hot cocoa while decorating the tree, all the shopping will be done early, and “Uncle Bernie,” (insert name) is going to be pleasant and charming, unlike last year.”

To make matters worse, you may have images of myself floating through the holiday singing “Silent Night” and happily wrapping presents. Okay, maybe not, but you get the point.

Meanwhile, in real life… the decorations and the tree barely get up (it was by blackmail and threats), no shopping has been done (broke), everyone has the flu, and “Uncle Bernie” is still a turd.

All hope gets dashed when this happens, and things go downhill (crash and burn).

Nothing seems worth the effort when Christmas is stressful for moms.

If you are like me, you probably don’t feel the spirit moving you to pull out all of those dusty, allergy-infested bins in the attic, spend thankless hours by yourself creating a magical wonderland (Bah-humbug), and then take the decorations back down three weeks later while everyone else admires your work.

You know who you are. 

If you are stressed about Christmas, it is time to set healthy boundaries so that you can enjoy the holiday season with the rest of the family.

RELATED: Estranged: How to Deal with Difficult Family Members Who Won’t Change

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Christmas is Stressful For Moms: What Am I Doing Wrong?

Let me explain why Christmas is stressful for moms and solutions to help you turn things around. I guarantee Christmas will be much better if you do these things:

1.  Unrealistic Expectations

Let’s face it: the mom does everything for Christmas. It’s no holiday!

And we are the worst for setting unrealistic expectations. Big confession: I had unrealistic expectations of myself and others during the holidays.

I thought my husband and kids would help me with my longggg list, but that didn’t work out so well.

When I realized they wouldn’t help, I spent the rest of the season angry, thinking they didn’t appreciate me. Can anyone say, “Self-pity?”

Since I couldn’t do it all, I gave up completely. Sadly, I made everyone else suffer for it, too. There was no Christmas tree, decorations, or cookies for a few years. Ba humbug!

See also  9 Shocking Reasons Why God Compares Us to Sheep In the Bible [Coloring Page]

RELATED: 5 Awesome Hacks to Get Rid of Self-Pity Once and For All


  • Balance, not extremes

Pick one event everyone can attend, such as a Christmas Eve candlelight service or even church on Sunday. Find ways to make the time together memorable so everyone is engaged.

Anything else during the season is gravy. If you can attend a concert, that would be great. If not, it’s no big deal.

This doesn’t include the kid’s programs. Obviously, every parent is going to attend this special occasion. And that is fun!

  • Pick one craft

I decided to make gingerbread cookies with the kids every year because it was important to them. They liked it so much that I also bought a gingerbread house. THEY totally did the decorating.

The gingerbread houses are around $10-$15 at Walmart.

Several years in a row, my daughter’s friends have helped decorate. It was something Christmasy (is this a word?) to do with her friends, and it kept them busy. I was fine not helping.

  • Pick one day to decorate

I decided to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving Day. It’s my house, and that is what is easiest for me. I leave the dining room decor set for Thanksgiving dinner, and the rest of the house is a Christmas wonderland.

After Thanksgiving, I removed the fall decor from the dining room and replaced it with the rest of the Christmas items. Bam! It’s all done.

For those of you who think this is heresy, no problem. Kill yourself after Thanksgiving while I am by the fireplace watching a movie and drinking that hot cocoa.

I put the wreaths outside the first week in December, and no one is the wiser except my family. (And now everyone is reading this.) My family loves the extra holiday cheer in the house, even though it is early in the season. I don’t think Christmas is stressful for moms when you spread out the work over a larger span of time.

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You can find Estranged on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

2.  Focus On Things

When the kids are little, it is easy to get caught up in Santa, gifts, candy, and all the other trappings of the holiday. I think we have forgotten the real reason for the season.

It’s Jesus’ birth.

Materialism has seeped so deep into our culture that it has replaced any need for a Savior. Even as a devout Christian, I have let stuff get in the way of focusing on what I wanted instead of what we all needed-God.

RELATED: Positive Parenting Tips: 6 Things Parents Do To Have Successful Teens


  • Toys

Christmas is fun with little kids. Your budget can go a long way when buying toys and trinkets, but do they need to open 15 presents, honestly? They can’t process that much stuff mentally.

Dave Ramsey has an excellent article and great suggestions for managing your gift-giving. As my kids have grown older, we have moved to a more minimalistic holiday. We do stocking stuffers, cash, and a couple of gifts from Santa.

I no longer believe Christmas is stressful as a mom because I let my kids do the work. They mostly shop after Christmas. Things are on sale, and they can get what they want at bargain prices, which means their dollar goes further.

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I recently heard this suggestion for giving gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. Four gifts. I might try that this year.

  • Mission project

Christmas is stressful for moms when it’s all about their stuff. The best way to distract the kids from themselves is to do a mission project with them.

Adopt an angel through the Salvation Army, feed the homeless through an organization such as Union Gospel Mission, or mail a shoebox gift to kids overseas through Operation Christmas Child.  

We have done all of these in the past. As a family, we have found feeding those without a home the most meaningful as it sets the right tone for the season.

RELATED: 51 Easy Christmas Activities For Every Age [ Letter to Santa]

3. Lose Hope

I think losing hope is one of the reasons Christmas is stressful for moms. We expect people to be something they are never going to be.  I can’t tell you how often I have been let down because I hoped “things would be different this year.”

It is easy to set ourselves up to hope “Uncle Bernie” will be different only to find he’s still…”Uncle Bernie.” He’s probably going to get drunk, cuss a few times, and say something rude to you or, better yet, make a freaking scene at the dinner table.


  • Set Boundaries

This year, don’t serve alcohol. Or cut the amount of time you spend with difficult family members. You can also direct the conversation at the table by picking subjects to discuss. Have everyone go around the table and answer the predetermined questions.

Whatever boundaries you set, stick to them!

RELATED: How to Set Boundaries with Family Members the Right Way

  • Pray

You can’t expect people to change miraculously, but you can pray that your time with “Bernie” will be meaningful and quiet. Some people tend to act worse during the holidays because they are hurting and don’t know how to express their feelings appropriately.

When you eat with your extended family, remember it’s just one meal. (If you’re stuck with “Bernie” for days, you might cut that trip short).

Bite your tongue and be pleasant. Try focusing on serving others; kindness goes a long way. (Serving keeps you busy and away from “Uncle Bernie”).

RELATED: Accepting Family Estrangement: 7 Tips When Feeling Alone at the Holidays

  • Refocus on Jesus

Christmas is stressful for moms when priorities are misplaced. Instead of putting your hope in people, it is better to place your hope in a Person. Jesus.

Take time as a family to read the Christmas Story (Luke 2). Watch a movie that focuses on the meaning of Christmas. Go to church.

Focus on the reason for the holiday. It will give you a new sense of purpose and meaning as to why you are celebrating in the first place. Check out this video. It is the reading of Luke 2 with visual enhancement.

RELATED: 51 Easy Christmas Activities For Every Age [Letter to Santa]

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Christmas is stressful for moms

How Can I Stop Stressing Over Christmas?

If you want to stop stressing over Christmas, stop having unrealistic expectations of yourself and those around you. Instead, refocus your priorities on more spiritual things.

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Furthermore, stop buying your kids everything they could ever want and make it all about the stuff. There is no reason to go into debt because of Christmas gifts. This is why Christmas is stressful for moms!

You don’t have to overcommit, lose sleep, go broke, or run yourself ragged this year. It’s time to set boundaries for yourself and those around you.

Conversely, it is time to create family traditions and purposely spend time with the ones you love. Find Christ-centered activities that point to Jesus instead of meaningless time wasters focusing on self-indulgence.

Focus on God and worship the One who was born this holiday season and made your life possible. If you do these things, there is a good chance you will remember this holiday as one of the best times you have spent with your family.

And you, my friend, will not be exhausted and broke in January.

When Christmas is stressful for moms, there are things you can do to make it peaceful. What stresses you out about the holidays? Comment below. 

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Got Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!

Are you struggling with family issues that have resulted in a family rift or a family estrangement? Are you feeling a sense of shame, anger, or rejection?  Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.

In it, I share my own experience of a seven-year estrangement from my Christian family and how we eventually reconciled. Furthermore, I provide practical advice to help you navigate your family issues.

Don’t let the pain of estrangement hold you back. Allow God to assist you in healing, no matter what has happened within your family. Remember, there is always hope to be found, even when things seem to be falling apart.

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Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family so you have more time to be intentional with your kids. It includes a schedule, too. You can get it at your favorite digital bookstore.

Join the group Christian Family Living on Facebook

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the Christian Family Living group. This is a place for Christian women to freely talk about parenting, marriage, faith, family, and culture. Being a Christian is hard! Let’s do it together. Most of all, a sense of humor is required. Got memes? Bring it on!

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Julie is a wife, mom, teacher, author, and blogger. She writes about Christian family living, marriage, parenting with a touch of humor.


  1. blair villanueva Reply

    We tend to go with the flow during Christmas season and expect too much. Just enjoy what it has to offer!

  2. You are indeed correct. SOmetimes, too much expectation make us sad and frustrated. It is prudent that we manage our expectation and be content with what we got.

  3. Really good stuff! It’s freeing to let go of expectations (for yourself and others!), especially during the holiday season. Thank you for these encouraging and fun words! ?

  4. I am also dealing with family estrangement, this time involving me and my parents. Thankfully, my brother came to the rescue. He is taking them to another country for Christmas. I am just so happy. I don’t think I can handle the holidays with them.

  5. Christmas is always the holiday that gets under your skin and in the end be the best holiday of your life lol I’ve been there

  6. You boycotted Christmas? Can i do that for Monday’s because I know that feeling all too well. Sometimes pressure get a the beat of us. Glad you managed to turn it around.

  7. This is a just in time post for the coming holidays. Indeed a great time to make sure we didn’t have a worst Christmas and also learn to know how to make the most out of it.

  8. Good that you wrote about worst and greatest. This is very helpful and I am sharing with my friends

  9. Adriana Lopez Reply

    You know the holidays and Christmas are very difficult for me. I lost my mom during the holiday time a few years ago and that puts me down. The pressures of the family and all the activities can be very stressful too. I appreciate the tips and recommendations.

  10. I love that you had the solution to every problem. I like the simplified Christmas and not the stress that can come with the season. It’s fun for me to see how other keep the true meaning of the Christmas.

  11. It’s definitely easy to get stressed during the holidays. Thanks for the reminder to remember the most important thing about Christmas

  12. One way we made Christmas better was by not “allowing” family to buy for everyone in the family. We do a secret santa (my wife’s family is huge) so this alleviates some of the financial stress from Christmas and gets more family members to participate.

  13. It is Ok to not do it all for Christmas. We did not decorate last year as we traveled but this year we got the tree up now and that is awesome.

  14. I just heard a great video on this very subject. Expectations are so powerful. Great post!

  15. Hah! I couldn’t agree more. I have set up high expectations for last holidays only to be let down. I will try to to do a better job of going into it with no expectations. I am type A personality so this is going to be hard

  16. I love your humor and light hearted way to deliver a deep message. This post was awesome! I cracked up because we have several turds for relatives. I love how you thoughtfully wrote this and reversed so many things to turn what was upside down right side up! Loved this! ❤

  17. These are some great reminders. I try not to ever get overwhelmed over the holidays and focus on the good. I think that’s important!

  18. Amazing post. Really enjoyed reading this. We have two traditions. One is we always go to the local theatre and watch a Xmas play on Xmas eve. The other is we always watch Home Alone together on the sofa. I have two kids (9 and 6) and they both get very excited around now!! Cracking read, very funny too!

  19. Love the idea to adopt an angel through the Salvation Army, I used to do this when I was little and haven’t done this in some time. I think I will restart the tradition this year, thanks to your post.

    Merry Christmas!

  20. Holidays can be a tough time for so many, and I agree, unrealistic expectations are just never a good idea. Hope you have a great Christmas 🙂

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