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Mom’s viral TikTok perfectly nails how we all feel about the endless school holiday to-dos

Viral TikTok of mom ranting about school holiday theme days

If you feel like you are drowning in oh-so-sweet and spirited (but stressful!) requests from your kids’ school, daycare, activities and more as the holidays approach, you aren’t alone. There are pajama days, holiday parties, themed character dress-up events, recitals and concerts, teacher gifts (oh and bus drivers and cafeteria workers and more, oh my!). It’s beginning to look a lot like… a serious case of overwhelm for parents everywhere. The school holiday theme days are, to be honest, a lot.

In a viral TikTok from last December, South Carolina mama, Darryl Prendergast, captured this stress perfectly in her reminder to parents everywhere that they are probably forgetting something. “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but your kid has some kind of pajama wearing, winter fest book swap, secret Santa, cookie sharing, 12 days of Christmas spirit week something happening at school tomorrow that you need to get ready for!”

She waves her Starbucks around while riding in her car, with the caption across the video “You’re welcome.”


The numbers back up that sense of overwhelm you can’t shake this time of year. The University of Michigan’s poll in 2021 showed 1 in 6 parents are stressed out around the holidays, and twice as many mothers than fathers report those high-stress levels.

Extra holiday shopping and tasks, such as those necessary to outfit your child in a full grinch suit for the last day of school with a few days’ notice, rank high on the list of stressors — 31% are worried about those extras. But before you write off all the activities and boycott the holidays altogether, keep in mind that overall, it ends up being “worth it,” and 96% of those surveyed ultimately call the holidays a happy time for families (they must have sent that survey on January 1!).

Mamas watching Prendergast’s TikTok as a reminder had lots to say: “me checking the calendar to see what I forgot about as the room mom,” one comments. Prendergast adds as an afterthought in the comments, “And PS there’s a signup genius somewhere out there with your name on it. Go grab your item.”

A teacher left in the comments that her school does a full 12-week countdown of school holiday theme days, complete with themes each day, leading up to break. Still another says, “Why do they do this to us???!!! Like I’m not stressing enough for the holidays!”

Of course, it’s all about creating holiday memories for your kids. But there’s so much pressure to get everything “right” and not have your kid be the only one who forgot to wear pajamas or bring a packet of hot chocolate or show up an hour early to the recital. And staying up late wrapping gifts for your kid’s bestie they demanded to give presents to, or writing handwritten notes to each teacher can take a toll.

Here’s what the parents in the study also showed, luckily, is what helps those overstressed parents. Try these strategies for a bit of a breather before the next spirit day shows up:

  • Spend some time alone (ha!) 71% found that helpful.

  • Listen to music (55%, but just not Christmas Baby Shark one more time)

  • Nearly half felt better with exercise

  • Attending a religious service or praying helped just under a third of respondents

  • Get some help! One in four felt better after enlisting help from others

  • And when all else fails, some parents send their kids to sleepovers or turn to junk food (blame the elf for stealing their candy canes)!

We’d say try to keep in mind the reason for the season, and see the joy in our kids’ faces, but first we have to check our color-coded multi-page spreadsheet calendars to see if tomorrow’s the dreaded day we need to transform our kid into a reindeer by the 8 a.m. bus pickup.

A version of this story was originally published on Dec. 19. 2022. It has been updated.