Protecting your energy during the holidays as a mum (for more joy & less post-Christmas collapse)

Nov 28, 2023 | 2 comments

The holidays and Christmas can be a magical, memorable time, especially in motherhood with the joy and excitement that children bring to this time of year. But it can also be a stressful, chaotic time, especially as a mother of young children.

This festive season asks even more of us as mothers than usual, with the additional work on your mental load from the planning and thought that goes into organising everything, the changes to your usual routines and rhythms, extra busyness with events and gatherings, and very little downtime for yourself or your little ones.

If you’ve been struggling with low energy or feeling exhausted or depleted, by the time you make it to December you might not have much left in the tank and all of this extra demand can push you further over the edge into burnout.

So, to avoid the post-Christmas collapse that so many mums experience, let’s explore some practical ways that you can protect your energy and well-being throughout this season and help you relax into enjoying the festivities as much as possible.


The information provided in this blog is for your personal or other non-commercial, educational purposes. It should not be considered as medical or professional advice. We recommend you consult with a GP or other healthcare professional before taking or omitting to take any action based on this blog. While the author uses best endeavours to provide accurate and true content, the author makes no guarantees or promises and assumes no liability regarding the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information presented. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this blog are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this blog is done at your own risk.

Get clear on your family’s values and make your own traditions

The holiday season typically comes with a lot of expectations and traditions that may or may not align with your family’s values, so as you enter into another Christmas season start by reflecting on what truly matters to you this year.

Start by getting clear on what your family values as (if you haven’t done something like this before you can see this list of values here for some inspiration) – talk about it with your partner and/or older children to agree on what is truly important to you all.

The truth is, if you don’t decide what’s important to you, someone else will decide for you – whether it be other family members or society more broadly – and their values or traditions will be imposed upon you.

Then, reflect on how these values translate to this time of year – ask yourself how you can act in a way that aligns with these values, what activities or traditions are important to you that you want to keep, and what new ones you’d like to create together.

Let your imagination wander freely to imagine what your ideal Christmas season looks like and then consider how you can bring some of these dreams into your reality and create this time to align with your vision and values.

The benefit of starting with this exercise is that you not only create a Christmas that you love and enjoy, but you also find it easier to set & hold boundaries and let go of expectations or perfectionism at this time of year (see more below on each of these points)

Externalise your mental load

Around this time of year, the demands and responsibilities on you as a mother increase significantly – all the planning, shopping for presents, cooking, packing for travel, and attending endless Christmas parties and end-of-year events. Each of these tasks comes with a collateral mental load, which is in addition to the normal daily juggle of being a mum and caring for kids and a home 24/7.

To avoid sinking with this increased load, I recommend taking some time to externalise your Christmas mental load. This means writing down everything you need to do, either on paper or on your phone or computer and then sharing it with your partner if you have a partner, and talking through who is best suited to complete which tasks.

Sticking this list on the fridge or somewhere else that it is highly visible (or via a shared calendar if you opt for a digital list), and keep adding to it as you remember more tasks that need to be organised.

While I will always advocate for mums to find a more equitable division of labour in the home, December might not be the time to work intently on this goal because that takes time and effort to work out together, and these resources are likely going to be stretched in other ways already.

But, at the very least, you can begin with externalising all of the things you need to do, to firstly: help your partner understand the extent of your workload at this time of year, and secondly: to help you delegate whatever you can from this list.

Often all of the work we do as mothers to create magic at Christmas goes unseen and unacknowledged, which naturally only adds to your stress and leads to resentment, robbing you of enjoying this time of the year as much as possible. Externalising this work brings attention and acknowledgment, relieving us of some of the stress and resentment that can build.

On top of this initial ‘externalisation’, you should make a good old brain dump your new BFF this Christmas – every time you sense that feeling of being overwhelmed creeping up, just brain dump everything swirling around your mind onto paper or a note on your phone. This is surprisingly helpful for reducing overwhelm and seeing a way forward through everything that needs to be done. Add things to the fridge list (or your other shared list) as needed. This is particularly helpful before bed if you’re prone to ruminating or worrying instead of falling asleep.

Doing these things can also help you to identify areas where you can take shortcuts or outsource, for example, buying food in various steps of being pre-made, buying handmade gifts from a local business instead of making them yourself, hiring a cleaner to keep the house in order (even if only for December), or arrange childcare so you can get planning or shopping done

See below for more on Embracing a ‘good enough’ Christmas and letting go of the need for things to be perfect, as this can often creep in and subconsciously push you to go over the top to meet someone elses expectations

Related blog: 3 reasons your energy is crashing in the afternoon (beyond broken sleep)

Hold your boundaries

Part of the joy of this time of year is catching up with friends and loved ones and celebrating together. But with this comes a flood of invitations and commitments, requests and responsibilities, and opinions and input from others that might push you beyond your capacity.

Setting boundaries in motherhood can be difficult – as mothers we are expected by society and many of the people around us to give and give, even if it comes at the expense of our own well-being. But now, more than any time of the year, you need to recognise that setting boundaries around your time, energy, and capacity to give to others is not selfish, but a form of self-preservation and self-care.

Prioritise people, events and gatherings that align with your values (see above for more on this) and dig deep for the courage to kindly but firmly set boundaries when needed for your own or your family’s wellbeing.

Boundary setting at Christmas comes in many different, but it might look like this:

  • Be discerning about what events or invitations you want to accept and which ones you may need to decline to protect your energy and not overload yourself this year
  • Speak up while planning family gatherings – although flexibility is needed to find something that works for everyone, if you know something is going to make you uncomfortable or not work for you or your kids, speak up and discuss alternatives before the plans get solidified and can’t be changed
  • Clarifying expectations or boundaries with family about gift giving, especially for kids (who tend to get a lot of presents at this time of year)
  • Dividing and conquering with your partner – it might be easier for you to each attend certain events solo without the entire family, or for you to get Christmas shopping done on your own without tired kids in tow
  • Chat about your boundaries with your partner as early as possible in the month, so that you’re both on the same page and can back each other up, if needed, during events or gatherings, or with certain people
  • Consider putting time limits on how long you will stay at events – either for your own sake or your children’s (and often kids are a great excuse to leave the party early)
  • Avoiding certain topics of conversation, if needed, to reduce stress and conflict, if you know particular topics trigger you or other people
  • Look at your calendar for December asap and block off a couple of windows where you can have some quiet days or evenings, either as a family or alone by yourself to recharge your batteries. Unless an important last-minute invitation comes up, try to honour this time and rest


7 simple steps for tired mamas to boost energy

(even when you’re not sleeping)

Focus on the basics of nourishing your body for stable energy

With the hustle and bustle of December and the indulgence that comes with festivities, we often start letting our basic nutritional needs slip, like skipping meals, forgetting to drink water, running predominately on convenience foods or carb-rich foods, and overdoing it on sweets or alcohol.

I’m a big believer in enjoying this time of year, but it makes a huge difference to your energy and how you feel during this time if you maintain the foundations of nourishment throughout this time rather than neglect them

My non-negotiables to stay balanced and energised through this season include:

  • Staying well hydrated – such a simple one that most of us overlook
  • Prioritise protein with every meal to keep blood sugar & energy stable – this should be possible at most meals, even when at parties or events, and is one of the most important things you can do at this time of year when it comes to food
  • Eating regularly – it’s easy to start skipping meals when you’re really busy or if you’re ‘holding out’ for a big feast at events. Eating regularly keeps your body fuelled all day, helps you to make better food choices throughout the day, and stops you from overeating when the special meals do arrive
  • When you’re in control of your food choices, go for the most nourishing and most nutrient dense options possible that will support your energy and wellbeing– i.e. the meals your having at home in between events and parties. When eating out or at someone else’s house, try not to let it worry you and just enjoy the food you’ve been served
  • Adopt an 80-20 approach, balancing healthy, nourishing food and enjoying other delicious foods & drinks
  • Stay in tune with your hunger and fullness cues and honour them when you notice them – don’t starve yourself when hungry and don’t overeat if you’re full. Keep an abundance mindset in mind with food at Christmas – there will always be another little treat or indulgence to be had, you don’t need to eat them all in one sitting. Conversely, you don’t need to ‘earn’ anything by skipping meals or starving yourself for the main event
  • Aim to have as many alcohol-free days in between events as possible

Related blog: Overcoming sugar cravings – 5 reasons you can’t control yourself around sweets

Embrace a ‘good enough’ Christmas

There is immense pressure on us as mothers to create a magical, joyful experience for those around us at Christmas. These expectations come from all angles – from the images of perfect motherhood depicted in media, TV, and movies, to the examples we witnessed growing up in our own families, to the pervasive beliefs that our culture holds (which we have probably internalised ourselves). Everywhere we look or listen, mothers are self-sacrificing to create Christmas magic (and often burning out in the process).

One very important thing we can do to relieve ourselves of the pressure to do things perfectly at this time of the year is to lean into a ‘good enough’ Christmas.

Prioritise the things that are most important to you and try to let the noise of the rest wash over you. This is much easier said than done, but it does begin with the intention to embrace ‘good enough’ as being good enough.

Striving for perfection at Christmas will show up differently for each of us. Some examples of what embracing ‘good enough’ might look like include:

  • Simplifying things – the food for Christmas events, gift-giving traditions, or decorations, just to name a few
  • Letting your kids decorate your tree imperfectly
  • Not fussing over kids in perfectly clean outfits or perfectly combed hair for parties or events
  • Knowing that meltdowns, big emotions, and things not going to plan are normal, and they shouldn’t ruin the day or your celebration
  • Remind yourself that your self-worth is not tied to how ‘picture perfect’ or flawless your Christmas is and that you’re worthy of joy & fun regardless
  • Hold boundaries, say no to requests or decline invitations when needed – this doesn’t make you a less perfect mother, it makes you a mindful mother attuned to her own and her family’s needs (more on boundaries above)

Related blog: Is ‘perfect’ mothering draining your energy? 5 ways it might be weighing you down

Nurture your nervous system

Your nervous system works overtime in the holidays to meet all of the demands, responsibilities, and expectations on you (many of them discussed above). Hopefully, with the support of the other strategies already discussed, you will be reducing the overall workload on your nervous system by reducing stress and busyness, and prioritising your own needs.

Nonetheless, your nervous system will likely still get a good workout in December, so consider some nurturing practices to help you rest, relax, and switch off from time to time.

Remember with our nervous system the goal isn’t to be completely zen and grounded 24/7 – it’s normal to have periods of higher intensity or stress where the nervous system responds with alertness or a fight-or-flight response; that’s life! We want to help it dip into the rest-and-digest state, or the parasympathetic branch, throughout the day, and this will help with your energy, cognition, mood, sleep, and general sense of resilience throughout the holidays.

Different practices resonate differently for each of us, but here are some of the practical things you can try:

  • Take micro-breaks in between the tasks or events of your day – stop and breathe for a moment, or sit down and let the tension leave your body. A few minutes is all it takes
  • Try a body scan to ground yourself in the moment
  • Meeting your basic physical needs, like drinking enough water and eating regularly (more on this above in maintaining the foundations of nourishment), prioritising sleep (as much as possible), and getting enough sunlight throughout the day
  • Simple breathing techniques can activate the rest-and-digest mode, only take a few deep breaths to work. Anything where the exhale is longer than the inhale can do this
  • Journaling or doing the ‘brain dump’ can reduce the overwhelm that builds up (more on the brain dump above in Externalising the Mental Load)
  • Reducing sensory stimulation for periods during the day, e.g. having 20 minutes of quiet time in the afternoon where you reduce sounds, textures, lights, etc. or anything else contributing to the sensory input in your environment
  • Get outside in nature – take the kids to the playground, go for a solo walk outdoors, or escape to somewhere lovely in nature
  • Have boundaries around your own screen time – when we’re stressed, we tend to overuse screens to cope and make us feel good. Consider putting a time limit or a curfew on your phone use to support your nervous system and feel more rested
  • Do something fun or silly – laughter and play help us to feel relaxed and relieve stress
  • Play your favourite music

Related blog: Surviving broken sleep – the 5 most important things you can do to protect the sleep you are getting

More support

So, as you go about this year’s celebrations and festivities, remember that it is possible to protect your energy and well-being during this crazy season by adopting some of the strategies we’ve explored here today.

If you’re looking to develop a deeper understanding of how nutrition can amplify your energy levels and keep you feeling resilient and balanced throughout the holidays, then my mini-course Eating For Energy would be perfect for you.

In this concise, straight-to-the-point short course, we delve into the foundations of nourishment in motherhood that will help you to take back control of your energy & well-being, make the changes you want to make without adding to your overwhelm, and simplify family cooking to reduce the workload of feeding yourself & your family without compromising on nourishment. 

Wishing you a magical, joyful, and nourished Christmas, with hopefully plenty of time to rest, enjoy, and have fun along the way.

Georgie xx


The information provided in this blog is for your personal or other non-commercial, educational purposes. It should not be considered as medical or professional advice. We recommend you consult with a GP or other healthcare professional before taking or omitting to take any action based on this blog. While the author uses best endeavours to provide accurate and true content, the author makes no guarantees or promises and assumes no liability regarding the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information presented. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this blog are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this blog is done at your own risk.




  1. Cassie

    Thanks Georgie. This is an excellent list and address several areas of overwhelm for the silly season.

    • Georgie

      Hey Cassie, Lots of overwhelm this time of year isn’t there! Glad you found the list helpful, thanks for reading 🙂 Happy holidays! G xx


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