Women Carry Most of the Emotional Labor of the Holidays, and There’s a Reason Why

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Oh, the holidays– what a magical time of the year! Most people tend to be more jolly around the holidays as it’s the time of year when we decorate our homes, visit with family and friends we don’t see during the year and feel the pure joy of the holiday season.

The thing we sometimes take for granted is that someone is responsible for all that holly and jolly. Somebody has to decorate; somebody has to make sure all is in order for a festive season, and that somebody is usually Mom or Grandma, or simply put, a woman.

Women carry the burden of trying to make everything perfect. We know it’s impossible to be perfect; however, we strive for it. Maybe it’s in our DNA? Maybe it’s because we want our children to have a memorable childhood holiday? Whatever our reason, we feel the stress. We want to feel the joy of the season, but most times we are just too busy checking things off our to-do list.

Here’s a list of things women tend to do during the holidays:

Put up the Christmas tree.

If your tree is in storage every year, someone is responsible for assembling the dang thing. Every year I take on this task because if left to my husband, the tree wouldn’t go up until Christmas Eve. And that is unacceptable for a joyous holiday season.

Decorate the Christmas tree.

Ah, yes. Indeed, after the tree is “put up,” someone (usually Mom) needs to decorate the tree. First, come the lights and then ribbon, mesh, bulbs– whatever you fancy. This is a timely task, especially for one person. The kids will offer to help, but will it really be helpful?

Deck the halls.

The tree isn’t the only thing you put up for a festive home around the holidays. There are wreaths to hang, a mantle to decorate, usually a village to set up. Again, timely tasks that Mom usually takes on.

Visit Santa at the mall.

This may seem like NBD. However, any seasoned parent knows this takes planning. You don’t want to go too late in the season because you’ll be waiting in a very long line to see the old fat man. You also don’t want to go too early because your kids will think Christmas is sooner than it is.

‘Tis the season for holiday family pictures!

You’ve probably received several of these over the years. Families dress in their best, hire a photographer, and purchase a nice Christmas postcard to send out to friends and family. It seems like an easy feat, that is until you realize outfits need to coordinated, hair needs to be brushed. Oh, and the location and time needs to be planned accordingly.

Send out Christmas cards.

Do people still do this? I don’t. It’s the one thing I’ve eliminated from my list because of time. And none of it. Plus, the cost of a postage stamp these days is ridiculous!

Stuff the stockings.

This is a thought out process because you have to make sure whatever you buy for the stocking, will fit! And no one wants to run to the store on Christmas Eve night trying to get last minute stocking stuffers.

Christmas shop for EVERYONE on your list!

And by “everyone” that means every single body. Obviously, you’ll want to write this down. Just think of everyone you want to buy a little something for– kids’ teachers, daycare, hairdresser, coworkers, friends, family, etc., etc. This is all up to you to coordinate, too! No pressure.

Make note of what your kids want for Christmas.

You have to do this because good ol’ Santa ain’t taking notes! While it may seem easy to remember if you’re buying for one child, when you add more to the mix, you will get stressed out!

Buy matching dresses or outfits for the kids to wear.

It isn’t Christmas without your best threads on! And if you’re a Mom, you know last years’ outfit won’t fit your kids. Kids are small for a very limited time, and as moms, we want to cherish these memories. Christmas is definitely the time to do it– and snap pictures of it, too!

Wrap (and hide) the Christmas gifts.

As the purchaser of the gifts, you will probably also be the wrapper of the gifts. I hate wrapping. With a passion. But I know it has to get done. If I ask the hubby to do it, he’ll say we have plenty of time. But there is never enough time around the holidays, is there?

Hang the Christmas lights.

Men are not the only ones who do this. I have several female friends who take on this task because they want it done without waiting on their husband.

Coordinate the finances for the holiday season.

Unfortunately, as a society, we don’t get an increase in pay from our bosses to holiday shop. So we have to get creative. I’m responsible for handling the bills in our household. And so I try to finagle ways to spend without breaking the bank during the season.

Plan a family date to go view outdoor Christmas lights.

When I was a kid, my mom used to drive us to fancy areas to show us how “rich people” decorated. Nowadays, places like the zoo or your local downtown surely have a light display of some sort. This is a family tradition though that you’ll always want to carry on, as long as the kids oblige.

Remember to move the Elf on the Shelf

Heavy sigh, here. This is just yet another stressor we’ve placed upon ourselves. That little buddy has to move almost every day, and if not, the kids will not take him seriously.

Go to work and try to keep your stess levels in check with a bountiful to-do list.

Working in and of itself is a life stressor. Pile on all the chaos the holidays can bring and you’ll want to be popping Xanax on the daily. Take one day at a time and try to enjoy the season.

Remember where you hid the Christmas gifts.

If you have nosey kids like mine, they will find a present before it is wrapped. I have learned to find creative hiding spots over the years but the older they get, the harder it gets. Just another stressor to the mix.

RSVP to all party invites.

Christmas party invites but also birthday party invites. It’s important that someone responds to these invites.

Make a gingerbread house with your kids.

Because while memories are important, your sanity is not. These things are a hot mess, but the kids love them.

Watch a Christmas movie or two with the kids.

This is a fun one, but you really do need to schedule this in your calendar, because it’s more fun to watch a Christmas movie during the actual holiday season. And with a busy to-do list, this could easily be missed.

Make holiday crafts with the kids.

Kids love crafting and the holiday season is no different. Plus, it’s nice to let them make a craft you can hang on the Christmas tree.

Visit with friends and extended family during the holidays.

You can only go to so many homes on Christmas Eve or Day. With that said, most people tend to visit extended family or friends for holiday dinners and drinks.

Go to your work and/or your spouse’s Christmas party.

The holidays are fun! But sometimes we want to escape the chaos. And we might not even enjoy the company of our coworkers but the obligation to attend the work Christmas party is heavy.

Deep clean the house.

If you are having people over then you’ll definitely want to do some deep cleaning. After all, why put up pretty decorations with dust in the corner?

Plan the party menu.

If you are the host, the host must plan the menu. This task can be daunting, especially if you’re not much of a cook. I guess there’s always Chinese takeout.

Be the party host.

Anyone who has ever hosted a holiday party can tell you this is a stressful thing to do. You have to make sure the food is right, the drinks are poured. And if you’re a Mom, ensure the kids are presentable looking.

Attend Christmas services.

Christmas is a magical time of year. But, it’s really good to remember what the season is truly about.

Remember to leave milk and cookies out for Santa.

The kids love helping with this task. You just have to remember to have a supply of milk and cookies in your home.

Make food for Santa’s reindeer.

Because Santa isn’t the only one who gets hungry on Christmas, as my children remind me. We started doing this a few years ago and is now a tradition– left up to me.

Make Christmas breakfast.

Christmas deserves a special breakfast, don’t you think? After the kids open their presents, it’s fun to let them eat something yummy and memorable that you may only serve on special occasions.