My family is celebrating Christmas in November this year. Why, you may ask? Well, as a mother and woman, I am used to spreading myself thin to meet the various needs of those around me. My spouse, kids, parents, in-laws, siblings, teachers, employers—it’s alot. Like many other mothers, I have found myself pulled in so many directions every December for several years.

Between having final exams as a college student, five family birthdays (including one being my spouse’s and one of my children’s), Christmas with our extended family and with my in-laws, and Christmas with my household family among class parties and events for both my kid’s classes… the month just feels spread too thin.

Related: All I want for Christmas is hearing you say, “Good job, mama”

There’s the stress of finding the perfect gift  for everyone on your list or deciding on whether or not to get your spouse a Christmas gift—and somehow we’re supposed to fit all these gatherings into a 31 day timeline? That’s why this year, we are celebrating Christmas in November with my extended family so that December with my husband and my children doesn’t feel so rushed and spread thin. This is one of many boundary lines we’ve drawn with family during the holidays. 

It’s really hard to recognize your limitations as a mother, but at the same time, it’s also really freeing. Trying to fit in Christmas with the in-laws, my extended family and for our household family amongst birthday parties, class parties and other life responsibilities has worn me down—and the result is me reaching New Years completely depleted and exhausted, wondering how I’m going to do this again. Well, I’ve decided I’m not. 

I’m going to simplify and cull back as much as I can.

I hope you’ll join me this year in reclaiming a little sanity and a little more room—whatever that looks like for you

As the keeper of my home, my family’s calendar and the family commitments, I realized there’s not an unspoken rule book that says all the Christmas parties and gatherings have to happen in December. If I can make small changes and make a month of celebrations and memories a little less hectic and chaotic for my family and myself, then why wouldn’t I? In the grand scheme of things, celebrating Christmas early might seem really minor, but when you look at the long list of tasks on any mother’s to-do list, even a minor change can make a huge difference. 

Admittedly, setting boundaries with family is extremely hard. There can be confrontational family members, passive aggression, emotional manipulation and guilt trips (just to name a few). But as I approach a near decade in parenting and marriage (and a new decade of “adulting,”) I’m slowly realizing that you really can’t make everyone happy, no matter how hard you try.

This doesn’t mean I’m going out of my way to cause drama, but it does mean I’m starting to be more firm about protecting my mental health and well-being, along with the well-being of my family. And it absolutely means that family members that want or expect to see us can compromise and meet us in the middle on some things.  

Related: I am Santa Claus, the elves and Christmas magic

For other families, setting boundaries during the holidays may look different than choosing to celebrate Christmas early. Instead of celebrating Christmas in November, maybe there’s other small changes you can make so that you are less stretched thin. Maybe ordering takeout instead of making a huge feast from scratch. Or setting a cap on Christmas gifts to help with the holiday budget. Or doing white elephant gifting instead. Maybe you decide not to do a family Christmas card this year.

The list of unspoken expectations and demands on mothers is long and even more demanding around the holidays. But mama, you don’t need to prove anything this holiday season. You show up for your kids, your family and your loved ones all year long in thousands of ways through many unseen gestures, actions and sacrifices.

We’re celebrating Christmas in November this year because it works for us. The past few years have taken a toll on me and my family, and I know we’re not the only ones. I hope you’ll join me this year in reclaiming a little sanity and a little more room—whatever that looks like for you

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