How to Stay Calm at Christmas

Homeschool moms have lots to do, so here are some tips on how to stay calm at Christmas.

How to Stay Calm at Christmas

How to Stay Calm at Christmas

The holidays are a magical time. We are dazzled and warmed by twinkle of lights on the well-decorated tree, the scents of Christmas cookies baking, the nostalgic Christmas music playing in the background while our darling homeschoolers are finishing up some “week before Christmas” school projects. Everything is perfect and we all feel calm and bright.


Well, actually, if your family is anything like mine, the days before Christmas have often felt more like:

  • When do we have time to decorate the Christmas tree?
  • Who moved the sprinkles for the Christmas cookies?????
  • Do your kids remember their lines for the church pageant?
  • How are we going to get the house clean before the relatives come over?
  • Am I ever going to get any sleep? I’m up late wrapping gifts and getting organized for the next holiday event!
  • What does your teen even mean when they say they haven’t even started their compare/contrast essay assignment?!
  • How are we going to handle irritating relatives during Christmas dinner?

Here is an actual truth that I have learned over the many Christmases I have seen:

There is no such thing as a magical Christmas!

Magical Christmases are advertising gimmicks and filtered memories from our childhoods (or too many Hallmark movies).

However, there is no need to be sad about it!

Not only that, you do not even need to feel guilty about it. (Although, I know that motherhood is all about guilt…).

If you can take my word for it, when your kids are grown, they will remember parts of Christmases as magical. And while you have teens in your home, they will let you know that parts that are not magical (and that’s okay).

Anyway, since you do not need to feel sad and guilty about the natural chaos that happens during, how about some realistic skills for staying calm at Christmas?

There are a few things I have learned over the years as a homeschooling parents and as a mental health counselor. Here they are:

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. -G.K. Chesterton

This quote revolutionized my life! When I was a young homeschooling mom, I thought I had to create those “magical” Christmases where everything is perfect. Unfortunately, nothing was ever perfect so I had the choice of:

  • Just never doing anything I would like to do because I could not do it “right”
  • OR I could do things badly and then we could actually have some fun experiences along the way.
    • While I was at it, I learned that being willing to do things badly was a good way to model resilience and a growth mindset for my kids (which is such an important gift to give them)!

So instead of a perfect, magical, why not create a good-enough, laugh-at-the-messes Christmas?

Let your kids see you:

  • Sigh about the batch of burnt cookies and say, “next batch will be better”.
  • Simply answer the critical relative with, “hmmm”.
  • Set parameters before company comes with the company and the kids about what topics are off limits
  • Have your teens write out their plans and schedule for the next day at night before they go to bed, then share it with you
    • This actually is a great way to actually get things done
  • Give yourself permission to hold realistic expectations for the holidays

So enjoy the messes, the almost-got-it-right and the laughter. It will help you stay calm at Christmas.

Prepare for HALT, then you won't get caught off guard.

Beware the HALT

All humans are affected by the HALT. What is HALT?

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired

When you, your kids or your company are experiencing one of the HALTs, trouble is bound to happen.

So, plan ahead what to do if you or your kids are hit by the HALT:

  • Hungry

    • Have some protein and healthy snacks on hand to tide you all over until the next meal
  • Angry

    • One thing that works for me is to take a bathroom break. No one can complain if you need to run to the bathroom. While you are there, stay in there as long as you wish. Maybe splash some cool water on your face and wrists.
    • Allow your teens and youngers bedroom breaks now and then. Sometimes, the intensity of lots of activity or noise can be irritating.
  • Lonely

    • When things get hectic, it is often hard to find time to have a real conversation with your spouse or a friend. This is sometimes difficult, but whenever possible, stop where you are, allow the mess, and make eye contact with your spouse or text a friend. Often, a small dose of contact will help you get through.
  • Tired

    • Feeling overly tired is a recipe for disaster. During Christmas events can you lower your expectations and raise your levels of grace for yourself?
      • One almost painful example of this is my tradition of serving Christmas dinner on my grandmother’s lovely china. Unfortunately it is old and delicate, so must be hand washed. It was tiring, even with help washing up after a crowd. My kids finally asked if we could just use paper plates so everyone was less tired and had more time to spend together. It was almost painful to try it, but we survived and found that paper plates are just fine for Christmas.
    • Also, remember: Sleep is more important than perfection. Try not to stay up too many nights. (Biologically, it is not good for you to dip under six hours of sleep too often. It can mess with your hormones and neurotransmitters!)

So plan ahead for the HALT in order to stay calm at Christmas.


This may sound cheesy but oxygen is your friend! Not kidding! God gave us oxygen to get rid of the stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Not only that but deep breathing will help activate your parasympathetic nervous system (which helps you to calm down- your teens can tell you that from their Health course).

High school health for the whole person
Click image for full description.

So, breathe in slowly through your nose and then purse your lips and breathe out slowly.

Click here for a freebie download from my coaching site that teaches some breathing exercises that are great for you and your kids to do at bedtime. These will help you and yours stay calm at Christmas.


Christmas is probably not going to be magical but it can, and should, have moments of awe. You know those moments where you:

  • Look at the tree, in all its mess and glory, and feel a moment of gratitude and joy
  • Think about the meaning of Christmas, of Christ and redemption, of angels and shepherds and Mary giving birth in a stable

God gave us the gift of moments awe to help us recalibrate towards gratitude and awareness of Him. When life is hectic, awe usually lasts for moments, not days, so notice it when it is there. This will help you stay calm at Christmas.

Be kind to yourself this Christmas, lower your expectations, plan for the tough moments, breathe and notice the beautiful things. You will have a much calmer holiday. May you and yours be blessed this Christmas!

Read more at Handling Holiday Homeschool Hassels.

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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