Ask Motherly: How do I make the holidays special when I'm exhausted?

This is not your year to worry about making the holidays "magical."

holiday exhaustion 2020

Editor's note: Sometimes you just need input from an experienced mama who *gets* it. Ask Motherly is a new advice column by Motherly's co-founders, Liz Tenety and Jill Koziol. Have a question for Liz and Jill? Email it to us at [email protected].

I am exhausted. How can I make the holidays special this year when it's just so hard?

Oh, mama. This is not your year to worry about making the holidays "magical."

Sure, for some mamas, this may be that year. We've heard from moms who want to make the holidays extra magical for their kids to make up for the many sacrifices and losses of 2020, and we get it. To the mamas up to making Christmas 2020 extra: more power to ya. For those of us who are feeling a little too tired to amp up the cheer, here are a few ways to redefine the holidays this year.

Take all the free things.
Free movies, free holiday music on the radio, free socially-distanced drives through neighborhoods dripping with Christmas lights. Stroll on by your town's free holiday display. Grab all the holiday cheer that other people are throwing your way. There is magic all around, mama. All you need to do is let it in.

Embrace the do-nothing Christmas
Our family is not putting up a Christmas tree this year. We're not attending awkward work holiday parties. We're not traveling to see family. We're even radically down-scaling gifts for the kids. We're doing less, and focusing on our family more, and it feels incredible. Almost like how Christmas should be.

Embody the spirit of the season
Last year, before Covid, my kids and I started a new tradition we called "Elf Day," where we spent the whole day on December 23 doing random acts of kindness for others. Among our activities: We paid for breakfast for the entire deli, dropped flowers and cookies off with our neighbors, and covered the cost of a play space visit for a fellow family—all while driving around town wearing elf ears and blasting Christmas music. It was one of my favorite days ever with my kids—and launched a new holiday tradition. All we had to do was show up and find ways to give instead of receiving.

If you can, treat yourself
Moms have been through a lot this year. So we think it makes sense to put yourself on the nice list. If you can, find ways to make time for yourself, or grab a gift for yourself that helps you soak in the goodness of the season. The Motherly Shop's bestselling weighted crystal blanketis beloved for a reason—it's insanely cozy and heavy and bears the healing energy of rose quartz crystals (um, obsessed). I'm writing to you wrapped in the comfort of Sunday Citizen's long ribbed cardigan, which is as roomy and wonderful and long as a bathrobe, but also totally acceptable in work meetings. (Ha!) You deserve some cozy. Here's hoping you get some.

@lelia_milaya / Twenty20

In This Article