Welcome to Mom Motivation Mondays where weekly contributing writers share their motherhood experiences to encourage you to find the joy in being a mom.

{This week: Post by Heather}

Stop trying to make Christmas perfect! What do you want your children to remember about Christmas? Stressed-out mom or the magical feeling that the holidays can bring? It is a choice.

As a young child, I did not have to think about how to make Christmas perfect. The magic I felt during the holiday season was wonderful.  There was just this feeling in the air. It wasn’t about the presents under the tree or the holiday parties where I was able to stay up way past my bedtime. It wasn’t about getting out of school for two weeks or drinking hot cocoa with those tiny marshmallows. I remember how as a child I looked forward to the feeling of Christmas every year.

The feeling of Christmas was so magical:

The feeling of possibility as we ended this year and embarked on a brand new year.

The feeling of family as I helped my mother roll out cookies from recipes her mother gave her.

The feeling of excitement I had when my parents drove me through neighborhoods to look for houses filled with lights.

The feeling of attending Christmas Eve mass with hundreds of candles lit.

Imagine my surprise when I became an adult and the feeling didn’t feel so magical anymore.  My carefree wonder was replaced by the stress of the holiday season. The epic list of Christmas to-dos. The pressure to make sure everything is perfect. The pressure to have everything nice and neatly wrapped up in an appropriately-sized box with a cute bow on top. The absurdness of reaching out to family and friends I hadn’t spoken to in years just because I felt like I had to for Christmas. The overwhelming urge to finish all the things on my everyday to-do list before the first of the year.

The magic of Christmas was replaced by an underlying panic. A panic that consumed my thoughts, feelings and emotions during the holiday season. A panic that sometimes kept me up at night wondering how I was going to get everything done in a timely manner.

The feeling of Christmas was no longer magical for me. Instead I had a feeling that everything had to be accomplished, right this very minute. It was a feeling that I had to make everything as perfect as I could, despite the fact that life is not perfect.

I slipped into feeling that Christmas was just another thing to “get through”. Something that needed to be marked off my to-do list.

A couple of years ago my girls were young enough I figured they wouldn’t understand how crazy their mother had been during the holiday season. I literally felt like a top spinning wildly out of control. Often times, looking forward to my girls going to bed so I could get more work done.  (What an awesome way to look at the holidays, huh?)

Last year I started to see how the stress could truly have an influence on my girls. On a variety of different occasions last year I felt their tiny eyes upon me as I could feel the stress bubbling up inside because something else had to get done, or because the girls took yet another ornament off the tree, or because of a hundred other things I felt were going wrong.  The bubbles of stress would eventually come out and not in the most helpful manner.  Sometimes I would yell, or complain, or sigh quite loudly. Couldn’t everyone understand I was just trying to make their Christmas PERFECT?

Stop trying to make Christmas perfect. What will our children learn if we focus on to-do lists and the stress rather than the magic of the holiday season?

There in lies the problem. 

Christmas is not meant to be perfect.  It is not about to-do lists or making sure everything is done on an automatic time schedule. It is not about fitting as much as you can into the holiday season.

Deep down everyone knows what Christmas is about. I could go on and on telling you Christmas is a time for family, a time for giving or to show those you love just how much they mean to you.

While we are busy making Christmas PERFECT we are missing out on our children experiencing the feeling. We miss out on all the things I remember as a child. Our view of how the Christmas season should be gets in the way of all the wonder of the season that is happening for our children right now!

Our children will never know that we didn’t get that decoration hung.  They probably won’t remember that the pecan pie didn’t turn out quite how we wanted. They won’t remember the seventy gifts they got this year.

I do, however, guarantee my children will remember me getting upset over something trivial.  My children will remember my feelings of frustration that fill the air.  These are not the memories I want my children to hold.

That is why this year I am over it! I am giving up my stressed out Christmas for one involving less perfection. One that involves more family time and less stressing out about decorations, cookies and gifts.  A Christmas that is full of fun, laughter and joy instead of misery and headaches. One where my children will see their mother is still filled with the spirit of Christmas. One where my girls will see their mother excited and joyful. One where my children will remember for years to come that I still have the feeling just like them.

Do you stress during the holidays or try to make everything perfect? What are you willing to give up this holiday season in exchange for a more magical feeling?

STOP! Stop trying to make Christmas perfect. Don't let the to-do list and the decorations get in the way of what Christmas can teach our children.

Send that holiday planning stress away! Check out more tips and resources for a No-Stress Christmas in the No-Stress Guide to Planning for the Holidays.

Stressed out with holiday planning? No need to be! This is a No-Stress Guide to Holiday Planning that will offer easy easy ways to stay organized and avoid getting overwhelmed this holiday season.

Heather of Just Becoming Me contributor to Mom Motivation Mondays series at The Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Guide

Heather lives in Florida with her husband, two girls and two pups. She is a lover of most things in life, too many to name here without scaring you, but a few include working out, learning new recipes, Pinterest, organizing (yes, it’s true!), home decor and learning to lead a more minimal and purposeful life.

At the end of 2014, she was feeling unhappy, burnt out and discouraged but couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was making her feel that way. She started Just Becoming Me as a venture to better understand herself and what will lead her towards a more fulfilling life. Her motto is: “We only have one life, and I want to learn to live mine in a way that gets me excited to jump out of bed.”

A weekly series of motivation for moms brought to you by stay at home mom bloggers at The Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Guide.