The Mental Load of Making Holiday Magic

For some families, another major holiday is rapidly approaching. If you’re anything like me, a holiday coming up means my anxiety level is coming up with it. As moms, holidays often mean we have magic to create. But, with the creation of holiday magic comes the managing of an exhausting mental load that we must try to balance with our existing, every day mental load.

If we’re hosting others for the holiday, we have rooms to clean, recipes to research, groceries to shop for, meals to prepare, desserts to bake, and decorations to display.

If we’re traveling for the holiday, we have the pre-trip laundry, then the post-trip laundry when we get back, the boarding of pets, the math of figuring out nap and feeding schedules around travel times, cleaning our houses before we leave (so that in the event that something awful happens and we don’t return home, people don’t know we’re actually garbage people who live in filth), and making sure every family member is packed with their regular clothes and holiday clothes.

But then there’s a special third category for those who are neither hosting nor traveling for the holiday.

I often find myself in this category for major holidays, and I feel the most accurate term for it is “will what I’m doing be enough?”

This category comes with a special gymnastics moms get to perform in their heads. With questions like, if it’s just our immediate family, how many decorations are too many? How little decorations are too little? Will this be enough food? Is this a fancy enough meal for a special holiday? Is it too fancy for just our family? How do I factor in the child who will not eat a single thing I make anyway?

Then there’s the gifts or baskets for the holiday. Whether your child still believes in Santa or the Easter Bunny, no longer believes, or has never believed, there’s a mental load to manage with all of it. We want to make sure they get meaningful items and not just more junk that will end up strewn about our house, but also items they enjoy and will have fun with. We want to get them enough that they feel special, but not so much that it’s excessive or spoiling.

We have to remember which child got what, how much was spent on everything, and try to keep it relatively equal for each child and the age and stage they are in. Some may have amazing memories and can do it all in their heads, and some may be a crazy, type-A personality like me, and track all of it in a spreadsheet.

No matter what, holidays can be a lot. Whether you hosted, traveled, or fell in the third category – holidays can be exhausting for moms. But for me, the most exhausting part of it all, is wondering and hoping that when my children are all grown up, and they look back, will they remember their childhood holidays as magical?

Will all that I did have been enough?

Victoria Tiernan
Hi! My name is Victoria. I was born and raised in Iowa. I attended Iowa State University (Go Cyclones!) where I met my husband. We moved to KC in 2011 and have been married for 11 years. We have three children, a 7 year old daughter that is the typical first born, ruling over her siblings with an iron fist. A 5 year old daughter that is equal parts mischievous and hilarious. Our youngest is a 3 year old son, and when he’s not sitting on a lily pad being doted on by his two sisters and mom, he is running around showing me all the things I never knew needed child proofing. As gluttons for chaos, we added a black goldendoodle to the mix last year. I am a stay at home mom, self-proclaimed coffee-holic and true crime junkie, avid Target lover, aspiring runner, and book lover. My goal in life is to raise good humans and help other mamas feel better about their parenting by sharing all of my own mom fails.


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