Endless toy commercials and Santas perched in every mall cheerfully, albeit loudly, announce the holiday season. Of course, moms never need these prompts to remember the dwindling days until Christmas. We have little, wide-eyed ones reminding us with a daily countdown.

Since having children, I’ve strived to make every Christmas a picture-perfect memory-worthy moment. I bake and decorate with the fervor of Martha Stewart as I try to create a cozy yet elegant family Christmas rivaling a Norman Rockwell painting.

Plans to Christmas tree farms, light shows, and cookie baking days are wedged between visits to Santa and forced photo ops as I try to recreate another Currier and Ives moment.

One particular year, I was nearly distraught as I realized while ticking off items on an endless list that I would not have time to bake cookies. My rational husband calmly told to “release the cookie pressure.”

As mothers, our desire to create the perfect holiday for our children can drive us to the brink. What I have realized though is that our children value our sanity much more than a perfectly sprinkled sugar cookie.

So, give yourself the gift of calm by following these 10 sanity saving ways to survive Christmas.

  1. Let your children place the ornaments wherever they want on the tree.

Even if you suffer from POPD (perfect ornament placement disorder), remind yourself that low-hanging ornaments are a brief and sweet moment in time that quickly disappears as children grow much too quickly.


  1. Let them make any shape sugar cookie.

Whether pressed into bunnies or a child’s nose print, it all tastes like sugary goodness regardless of shape.


  1. One type of cookie is good enough even if it comes out of a tube.

Trying to bake thirteen varieties of cookies is madness. Kids like sugar. It doesn’t have to be in a variety of forms.


  1. Don’t make your own cards and/or wrapping paper.

It sounds simple and bonding-time worthy but really it’s just a complicated and sticky crafting moment that usually ends in tears (yours).


  1. Make a list of 6 fun Christmas activities then eliminate 4.

In theory, riding ponies through a snowy Christmas tree farm, sled riding for hours, caroling and building a Gingerbread house sounds quaint. It is, in reality, smelly, exhausting and sticky.


  1. Skip the “perfect” Christmas outfits

Matching red and green sweaters are adorable but not worth the fight or the stress of keeping them clean. Snowmen tee shirts are also festive and more comfortable.


  1. Forego the old-fashioned car trip games

Lovely idea to sing Christmas songs and play “I spy” on long car trips to visit family. It also isn’t very practical after the third hour. Embrace the iPad and DVD player.


  1. Forget the perfect Christmas picture

Sustaining minor injury while scaling a picturesque rock to carefully position your little ones for the “perfect” Christmas picture isn’t worth it. Candid shots are always the best.


  1. Don’t have a baby close to Christmas

Okay, so maybe this one is harder to control. But take it from this mama; if you can plan it make sure they are born after the holidays.


  1. Let go of the “cookie pressure”

Stop trying so hard to make Christmas perfect. It won’t be. But if you stop fussing and start enjoying, it will be the most memorable, picture perfect time of your life.

Sherry Parnell

Sherry Parnell is a mother, writer and a runner just not always in that order. She lives in the country with two rambunctious little boys, one very supportive husband, and one sleepy Chihuahua. In addition to being a nose wiper, lunch packer and wrestling referee, Sherry is also the author of the book, Let The Willows Weep. She is currently completing her second novel due to be released next year if she can survive another winter of colds, complaints and disrupted sleep. You can find more posts about her experiences as a mother and a writer on her personal blog at https://sherryparnell.com/