How to Keep the Holidays Simple and Delightful This Year

We all long for a holiday season that’s restful, replenishing, and restorative. But instead, we often feel overloaded, overwhelmed, and overstimulated. Here are some ideas about how to keep the holidays simple and delightful this year. 

As homeschooling parents, the holiday season can be a challenging time of the year. Just know that you are not alone my friend!

So how do we bring more simplicity to our holiday season?

Well, consider first what exactly do you want and need from this season. Many of us want to unplug the holiday machine and begin to create a season for our family that’s simpler. That’s less hectic and more filled with playful moments and treasured memories. Does that sound like you?

 The principles of Simplicity Parenting can help us to explore how to make small doable changes that move us toward more satisfying and meaningful family celebrations.

The idea of “soul fever” can be a really helpful place to start. This is the idea that when a child (or parent!) is overwhelmed and disoriented, they’re unable to be at their best.

Even though we all long for a holiday season that’s replenishing and restorative, it can also be a stressful time when we feel rushed, overscheduled, cluttered, and perhaps even over-sugared. We might even think of this as a Holiday Soul Fever

So the question becomes: how do we prevent or reduce Holiday Soul Fever?

The Four Pillars of Simplicity

The Four Pillars of Simplicity, from Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids (referral link) can be a wonderful guide for us during the holidays.

Staying close to our family values and hopes of peace, connection, and joy can help us to say “no thank you” to all the extras. Extra decorations, extra cookies, extra gifts, or extra late nights!

Pillar One: Simplify the Environment

Within our home environment, we can limit the decorations to those that add distinct beauty or have special meaning to our family. We can even make an extra effort to clear out the spaces in our homes before a holiday.

We could also request from relatives and in-laws that they focus on experience gifts for our children this year.  Music or art lessons, or an annual membership to a museum or botanical gardens make especially nice gifts. 

For years, my mom gave us an annual membership to either the zoo or the natural history museum.

You might even ask family members to make a donation to an organization that’s near and dear to your family. 

Pillar Two: Simplify and Strengthen Rhythm

In the realm of rhythm, we want to think about how we can maintain a sense of balance each day throughout the season.

We can do this by continuing to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day. Continue to recite familiar blessings at mealtime and bedtime. And keep our chore rhythms going .

All of this can really help a lot to keep the anchor points of our family life stable. Making a meal plan for healthy eating can also be a great thing to do before the holidays begin!

Pillar Three: Simplify Schedules

We can simplify schedules by beginning to recognize when we’re overscheduled. And also by limiting the number of events we say “yes” to. This can go a long way to reducing holiday soul fever.

I like to think of the concept of alternating an active day with a calm day. We can also bookend busy times with connection to nature or unstructured time at home.

Engaging children in holiday baking, wonderful seasonal read-aloud books, and making homemade gifts can also be sweet ways to simplify our schedule, reconnect as a family, and cultivate creativity.

Downtime can really help us maintain a sense of balance during a busy season.

Pillar Four: Filter Out Overwhelming Information

Filtering out the adult world is an additional way to build resilience and reduce holiday soul fever. We want to be mindful of adult conversations around the holiday table and in the playroom where all the cousins gather.

This is not always easy to mitigate, but helpful to be mindful of and request a bit of filtering on the part of the adults. For the sake of all the children.

Reducing holiday soul fever is doable! Fill your heart with memories of golden moments from past years, and simplify wherever you can. Then, you and your family can keep the holidays simple and delightful this year.  

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Keep the Holidays Simple

Here are some frequently asked questions that I often get about simplifying the holidays and homeschooling this time of the year.

  • Do you have any tips on decluttering and purging in the lead-up to his giving season so that the house doesn’t explode? Especially with regard to a child who doesn’t want to give up anything but is too old for me to quietly take things away from his closet – a very melancholic child.

I find that one of the best things to do with older kids, and melancholic children especially, is to ask them to choose toys that they might like to give to a child who doesn’t have any. Often kids respond to this request because they experience deep empathy. And they find it hard to believe that other children might not have toys.

If children really have a hard time giving things up, the best way to handle this might be to put half the toys away in a rotating toy library that you switch out monthly or seasonally. That way you have fewer toys out in your environment, and you can rotate the collection for a new one periodically.

A great question to ask yourself is “what benefits would our family enjoy from reducing the amount of toys/books/games/stuff we have in our house?

Give yourself 5 minutes to sit with this question. Maybe even journal about it and ask your partner to do the same. Then share. I’ve found over the years that when we can get in touch with that feeling and also imagine or picture the simplicity, we feel the conviction in our hearts and not just our heads. This makes it easier to stay committed to this change.

  • I would love to have a sampling of crafting and homemade gift ideas suitable for different ages so I don’t have to search and search. Inspiration and ways Waldorf homeschoolers get through the December holidays.

I have just that inside the Inspired at Home membership!

Every December, we create a Handwork + Stories Masterclass where we pair wonderful children’s books with handwork projects. You can do one a week for the month of December or anytime throughout the holiday season. When you join the membership, you get access to all new and previous masterclasses. Plus a warm and welcoming community of homeschoolers who share what’s working for them.

  • Any tips for recovering from the holidays? I find that even though our celebrations are simple and we limit the outings gifts etc. it takes weeks to get a rhythm back and catch up on all the self-care, home-care, clean up (decorations, finding homes for new belongings) and purging that must happen after all is said and done. And we always seem to get sick in there too. How do we get back to homeschooling without neglecting everything else once January comes? 

The answer is to schedule in the time! And include the whole family.

We often didn’t start back to lessons until at least the second week in January. So that we could do all the wrap up. To me, this is like the beginning of the homeschool year, only even harder! Because we’re often tired from the holidays and the year is no longer new.

I like to layer things in, starting with rhythm. Take a few days or a week to get those anchor points of bedtimes, mealtimes, and rituals back. All while doing  the holiday clean up along with extra self-care. And then when you do begin lessons again, add in something new like a game or fun resource to keep things really hands on and lively.

  • How can our holiday traditions evolve as our children get older? I am already seeing a shift this year in some of the younger themed traditions we’ve had that are no longer of interest to my kids.

Festivals and holiday celebrations have a way of connecting us to something deeper. So don’t give up on them as kids get older. It’s just time to transition to something more age-appropriate.

One way to make that shift is to invite older children to learn a piece of music or put on a puppet show for younger children. They can take on roles that you’ve traditionally done as the parent. You can invite them to help plan. I find the best way to handle this is to ask your children which of the familiar rituals they want to continue with and how they might want to take part in the planning and leading of activities.

Keep the Holidays Simple & Delightful This Year

So there you have it ~ some ideas for how to keep the holidays simple & delightful this year! 

The holidays are meant to bring us closer together as a family, not stress us out. This year, consider some new approaches to keep holiday soul fever at bay using the “power of less” to bring more calm and security to your children and family.

Simplicity Holidays Masterclass in the Homeschool with Waldorf Membership Community

Are you anticipating (or dreading?) an onslaught of too much this year? To much stuff? Too much busyness? Too many obligations?  Or perhaps you’re worried about your rhythm and routines flying out the window. 

Join me inside the Inspired at Home membership community where we’ll be focusing on simplifying the holidays and enriching the season with reflection and rituals. 

And the December masterclass, Handwork + Stories, will include four new handwork projects with beautiful literature connections. 

In addition to all the masterclasses, we have three coaching calls each month where you can get my support and that of other homeschooling parents. 

If you feel like it’s time to slow down and simplify your holiday season, join us!

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