With the Easter holiday on the horizon, I wanted to again touch on the subject of holiday stress. A couple of years ago a national poll was conducted that concluded that 1 in 4 parents admit they set overly grand expectations during the holiday seasons, which resulted in stress and anxiety. The same poll also found mothers are twice as likely to be stressed over holiday preparations.
We as mothers begin stressing weeks ahead of time. During Easter, for example, we begin stressing about getting outfits together for photos with the Easter Bunny and for Easter Day. We must find the perfect overly coordinated outfits not only for our kids, but for our entire family. We all must be cohesive, you know? It makes for better family photos and makes it at least appear as if we have our lives together, even if it is over as soon as the camera flashes.
We stress over food preparations and shopping, who is bringing what? Call and make sure this person has this food covered, and that grandma remembers to bring that special pie that everyone loves. Who is in charge of bringing the macaroni and cheese for the kids because God forbid, they actually eat any of the other food that we have spent days preparing. But most importantly, who is bringing the wine?
My biggest stressor is making sure we get to every single place we need to go that day in a timely manner, allowing enough time to visit with this side of the family before we head (already stuffed to the gills) to our next stop. Having a blended family can be tough during the holidays. I also have to coordinate with Emerson’s dad to share time with her.
But then there is the fun part- the Easter Egg Hunt. No matter how stressed I may have been weeks, days or hours before this event, I always seem to forget about it during this very brief period of hiding the eggs all about the yard and then getting to watch my girls search for them, hoping to find that special egg that holds some monetary value.
Once that is over, it is back to stressing about straightening up and packing the vehicle down with all the goodies the girls acquired over the day, back to the house to unload it all and clean up the mess I most likely left in the kitchen earlier that morning.
The major problem with all of this is that your stress could possibly be taking away from not only your joy for the holiday, but your children’s joy, as well. They see all of the presents that the Easter bunny dropped off when they wake up on Easter morning, but they notice that you are not equally joyful because you are too busy worrying about finishing preparations for the rest of the day. They see you rushing through all the activities because you are too busy worrying about whether or not you are going to make it to your next visit on time.
I know we cannot eliminate all the stresses and anxieties that come with an upcoming holiday, but we can control how much we take on, we can say “no” and we can choose to sit down and relish the special moments that the holidays bring.
I want to encourage all mothers and fathers and grandparents to be present this Easter. Do not take on more than you can handle, instead try to delegate some of your responsibilities for the day to other family members that are willing to help. Enjoy your children and grandchildren. Be in the moment physically, mentally and spiritually. Do not let this day pass by just making it through.
I am here to tell you now, my girls will most likely not have adorable matching outfits. (One of them would probably get their morning chocolate on it anyway.) You will not catch me in the kitchen basting a turkey. You most definitely will not see me in Wal-Mart the night before Easter either.
I will show up on Easter Day with mis-matched children who will have their Easter baskets in tow. I will be excited to eat a feast that someone else prepared. I will sit and visit my grandmother whom I do not see often enough. I will not rush through these times. I will be present. I will remember the reason we celebrate this day. I will be thankful.
And I will bring the wine.
(Paige Nash is a wife, mother, publisher of Bienville Parish Journal and Claiborne Parish Journal and a digital journalist for Webster Parish Journal. She’s also the unstressed person with a wine glass in her hand at Easter dinner.)