This time of year can get to even the best of us! My schedule is crazy hectic, the kids are wild for the upcoming holidays and vacations, and nerves are on edge. And I am not finished with shopping or anything else! Help! How is a mom, or anyone for that matter, supposed to keep it all together, and even more, be positive, grateful, happy and energetic? Get help, multi-task, whatever it takes. Actually, I have some real advice.

Stop what you are doing and take stock – It really helps to look at where you are and what you have to keep a person grounded at times like these. If you have a roof over your head, food in the fridge, your family is safe and healthy, then you should be happy. You might also check your list. Look at the positive side. Kids, even if they are not yours, help with this. Smile at the kids because innocence is precious and in two seconds, they will be grown-ups. Literally, life is too short to let the day-to-day drag away our happiness, even if the day-to-day is terribly imperfect (which, of course, it is).

Make lists and prioritize – We moms have a lot of great ideas. We also forget a lot of them, too. Sometimes the kids distract us or our mind just goes to the next thing. I keep pen and paper all over the place so I can write stuff down. Yes, I do sometimes misplace my lists, but not too often. I keep ongoing lists for lots of things to help me keep organized, but I also use my google calendar and send myself reminders if I don’t have paper handy. Prioritize based on the needs of your life, where the kids need to be, what has to  be done first and then really use your time wisely. As a work-from-home mom, I understand how one tiny project can bloom into a huge multi-day project in a matter of moments. I will get to that giant pile of kids’ papers and projects next to my desk, but doing my jobs and putting up Christmas cards is so much more appealing right now. It might even hold until after the kids are back in school in January.

Exercise and eat right – I am guilty of failing this one! I am so busy accomplishing my list, that I sometimes forget to eat on time and to drink enough water. Naturally, that is a sure way to get run down and sick, just in time for the holidays. I am not much on exercise, but I do know it does feel good (except my knees) and is proven to be a good way to blow off steam, release feel-good endorphins and keep the heart healthy too. I should really try this one myself, even if I just get out for a walk….gotta add it to my list. It helps to keep on-the-go foods like yogurt, fresh fruit and granola bars in stock. I actually keep some in my car for when I realize I forgot to eat, just as I pull out my driveway.

Relax, in between everything else – I know, right? Exercise is good, but rest is equally important. Get to bed at a decent hour, even if your list isn’t completed. Put the important stuff at the top of tomorrow’s list and get a solid 8 hours whenever humanly possible. I like to watch tv at night, but since I am up by 6am daily, I generally hit the hay before 10pm, or I feel and look tired the next day. If possible, set aside a few minutes, especially on the busiest of days, to sit, meditate, stretch, pray, do yoga, just breathe. Then get back to the list.

Engage with your kids – The best way to survive the season, even while the kids need directions repeated ten times and you’ve got to have the patience of Job to deal with every argument or hurt feeling, engage the kids. Do stuff with them. Make a simple craft or bake cookies or make ornaments. Try doing something for someone else and your kids will get excited about giving and the spirit of good will toward men, the Christmas spirit and all, even if it is as simple as making a card for your elderly neighbor or the family across the street. Not your cup of tea? Engage with your kids by doing any activity together. Discover the joy of Christmas where it has always been, right at home.

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