Tip #1: Make work more visible. Part of the reason the holidays can be so stressful? Women conduct much of the work behind the scenes. We want to make things as enjoyable as possible for our families, so we put events on for our families rather than with our families. For instance, many women I talked with said, "after the holidays, I'm left to take the Christmas tree down alone." We've been making our families so happy, which is a lovely gift, but at times, it's at the expense of our own happiness. Many mothers in my research cited complaints from their children as a major reason for doing all work behind the scenes. They would rather have their children remember the good of the holidays than participate in the nitty-gritty part while complaining. Mothers fear that their children will only remember the hard part of the holidays rather than the joy and magic. But sometimes letting our families in on the less-magical side of things makes them appreciate the experience more. 13 Things You Didn't Know About Christmas Traditions
As an example, my mom spent an afternoon making raspberry jam for our family celebration. When she was finished, instead of simply packing her creation up until the event, she texted a photo of the finished jam to her kids. It was a small thing, but the gesture was important. Including us in the process generated more gratitude among our family members for the work she'd done, and we were even more excited to see each other. It clued us in: She's thinking about our celebration, months prior to the event. The raspberry jam we all love doesn't just appear, does it? The process deserves appreciation.
Tip #2: Involve family members from start to finish. Although it might be easier to complete the tasks by yourself (because, hey, you've been doing it for quite some time), include your kids. Consider it an investment in their futures. Try to keep them involved through their "growing up" years, as it may make a big difference in their involvement in your family as they go through big life changes, and when they have families of their own. They will be more compassionate, understanding and helpful in the future if they practice it now. 10 Ways To Keep Your Kids From Growing Up Too Fast
How about creating a ritual where the whole family takes down the Christmas tree together? Even if you have adult children. Everything has the opportunity to become something fun and joyful. It's all in how you and your family choose to see it. It might not be the event they're used to looking forward to, but it is still togetherness. It's another opportunity to interact, learn, create memories, and be playful together. Also, it communicates to your family that idea that Christmas does not happen "magically." It takes a lot of work. You might hear complaints, especially at first. But consider the alternative: What are they learning if you're not involving them in the step-by-step process? They're learning that women (specifically mothers) are the only people who can and should be responsible for family matters.