• The Christmas Secret: How To Stop The Holidays From Messing Up Your Life | Sandy Fowler | Episode 42

  • Whether we like it or not, Christmas is coming and with it comes holiday stress. Many parents struggle and wonder how to keep the holidays from messing up your life. Our own Sandy Fowler has the Christmas secret that not only involves Christmas stress relief, but also shows us how to start creating our dream holiday. Listen in as Mighty Parenting podcast host Judy Davis finds out what’s so hard about the holiday season and a new way to look at the stress it causes. Discover what’s really creating that Christmas stress, why going away for the holidays won’t fix it, and more.


    A Favorite Quote from the Christmas Secret Show:

    “Now I know there is a possibility I can create a holiday I actually enjoy.”

    High Points of the Discussion About The Christmas Secret:

    Stress escalates during the holidays and the goal is to get to the root cause of the stress so you can actually eliminate it.

    We try to create a holiday that meets everyone else’s expectations. When those expectations match up with ours, things work better. When they don’t, or if they’re unrealistic, it adds to the stress.

    My personal experiences led me to create my strategies for handling the holidays. It started with a little bit of desperation. First, I needed to relieve the stress I created when I brought all my expectations about Christmas into my marriage and piled on the pressure to meet my husband’s expectations. The second big event for me occurred when I needed to alleviate the craziness of gift giving.

    We found Christmas magic in making gifts for each other. That (unexpectedly) turned out to be the foundation of my dream holiday.

    Every family needs to uncover their own dream holiday. Sometimes that happens by accident but only because you dared to do something new.

    What is your dream holiday? Your dream holiday likely isn’t what you said. If you said “don’t” in there at all, it’s something you need to deal with but it isn’t your dream.

    Judy, what you want is what you heard in my voice, not the holiday where you make your own gifts. You want what that got me, which is an unfolding of our dream holiday.

    Everyone’s dream holiday is about a feeling. To find it, sit back and think about your dream holiday. Let your imagination run wild. Then jot down on a piece of paper the various aspects of it. Then, for each thing that’s in there, ask yourself why you want that.

    You will uncover 2 things with the Christmas secret: the things that are bothering you about your Christmas, and the feeling that you want.

    Most people who say they want to go away don’t really want to celebrate Christmas someplace else, they want to escape the stress.

    The story you tell me shows me what you want. It is not about the activities, but rather about the feeling those activities create.

    Go ahead and make the list of what you don’t want because those need to be dealt with so your holiday isn’t miserable. But be sure to also dive in and understand the feeling you want to create so you can begin to build the holiday you want.

    Judy – “I know there is a possibility I can create a holiday I actually enjoy.” Sandy – “That spark of belief is extremely important.”

    There are 2 parts to stopping the twirl of activity and stress the holidays create. The first is what we were talking about where you begin to create your dream Christmas. The second is a simple strategy for dealing with the overload of activities and to-do items.

    The calendar strategy:

    • Print off a blank calendar for Nov and Dec
    • Write in everything you need to do for your everyday life
    • Write in everything you need and want to do for the holidays

    Most likely there isn’t enough room in your life for everything, so you need to choose what will happen and what won’t. This is a very simple and very powerful exercise. It is not easy, but it’s worth it.

    It condenses all the pain that we experience on a daily basis throughout the season into an hour or two as we decide what will stay and what will go. These decisions can be very difficult but then you get to live the rest of the season without the guilt and without the stress of having a list of unfinished items weighing you down at the end of every day.

    Within the Christmas secret, there are 2 components to our holiday spending.

    One is the unexpected additional spending. We all know we’ll be spending money on presents and, if we have to buy train or plane tickets, we expect any big travel expenses. What can blindside us is the increased regular expenses: using more gas driving to stores, parties, and holiday events, spending more on groceries because you’re baking or have more company, additional money spent on eating out or convenience foods because you’re too busy to cook, burning more wood because you’re keeping the home fires burning, or a larger utility bills because you have a lot of Christmas lights or you have a lot of guests staying with you.

    The second component is gift giving. Things that can cause us to over spend on our gifts include:

    • Exhaustion and frustration in trying to find the right gift
    • Trying to meet other people’s expectations
    • Trying to trim your budget (ie making gifts)

    Instead of walking through stores and looking at things and deciding if someone would like it, ask yourself (and your family), what would make a good gift for that person. Think of things you can buy but also think about how you can give the gift of you or an experiential gift.

    The one thing Sandy wants us all to do that will help us in the next few weeks: Talk to your family and find out what they really want from the holiday season. Ask what they want, then ask them what is appealing about that.

    Our Guest:


    To learn more about Sandy Fowler visit sandyfowler.com.

    To get more holiday help or register for Sandy’s upcoming workshop visit https://sandyfowler.com/holiday-help-2.



    Sandy’s Christmas Book Series is available on Amazon.com

    1.  Christmas Magic: Using the Advent Season to Strengthen Family Bonds and Create a
    Meaningful Christmas (A Heart Filled Holidays Christmas Series Book 1)

    2. The Christmas Secret: Why the Holiday Season is so Hard and How to Fix It (Heart Filled Holidays Christmas Series Book 2)