A Busy Mom's Guide to Surviving the Holidays
Almost two years ago, shortly after the new year, after hosting Christmas for my international family for about a month, I sat at the beach next to my hubs and just watched the kids play in the sand in silence. I was burnt out and missed my big fam but I was eager to move on and push past the post holiday blues...yet part of me was still replaying the holidays as part of an honest internal conversation about being disappointed with myself....
Having realized that by wanting to do it all (host, entertain, plan, coordinate) I had left very little for me and for an indulgent person like myself that triggered a serious episode of fomo (fear of missing out). The obsession to push myself to multitask and check everything off of my list meant compromising the substance of my very own holiday experience. Why did it all matter so much? Who was I really doing this for? Was I happy? Was my family happy?
For a moment I was mad at myself. Then concluded it didn't matter. Nothing I was fixating on mattered. "Wake up Cat you're at the beach in January and the boys are having a blast". Sitting there was effortless and I wasn't about to waste another minute pushing to in/validate a line of thinking that was so inconsequential.
And I think that's about when I threw away the key. It didn't take me too long to locate my long lost shoulder shrug complete with smile and "oh well".
Inanimate things no longer had a voice in my home. The laundry wasn't screaming "fold me!" and the floors weren't begging "please!". The pile of toys were saying "we chillin" and the scattered books seemed to insist "hey they're coming back". General household contentment, in the presence of some level of disorganization, was completely achievable. That meant letting dishes and laundry sit, period. It meant pushing back on self implied priorities and admitting that between us all no one actually felt bad about making it all wait.
[Queue shoulder shrug, smile and "oh well" followed by front door closing and car starting]
Ok so here we are today the week before thanksgiving and meanwhile there's Christmas tunes everywhere, not to mention I have a party to plan for a special birthday boy somewhere in all that and then prepare to travel soon after. Here's of few of my own notes to get through it all without losing focus and burning out.
- Establish a MUST DO list: not a wanna do list. I'm guilty of to-do lists that are more when-I-have-time lists but during this time of year that thing balloons out of control and needs a good purge. What's usually left is stuff that aligns with reality that like buying a wreath vs making one because you saw a video on FB that made it look so easy and so you bought a glue gun. Anyway...
- Delegate whenever possible: share the load yo. However someone told me about one husband's advice to another about wrapping presents "She never asks me to wrap presents. All you have to do is wrap the first one like a garbage ball and she'll never ask you again." So delegate wisely or limit the wrapping to balls.
- Prioritize week-by-week: in some cases there's just so much happening (shopping; holiday parties; kids activities) you don't have the luxury of planning far ahead. Focus on being set for the week ahead and expand that scope further out as you get comfortable about your coverage.
- Locate your Eff-It Button. Everyone has one and shouldn't be afraid to use it when they need to pull the needle off the record and immediately change course. It's uncomplicated, judgement-free and quite liberating
- Underestimate Down Time: one night to veg can be just enough to recharge to get more done
- Over-commit. Know your limits and avoid taking on more than is worth your precious time
- Pretend you can keep pushing yourself without a pedicure
- Forget the kids
I love this time of year, everything about it, the sounds, the colors and enjoying every part of it with my boys. I like to think that they get as much out of seeing me enjoy it as I do through them. So take it from me, (me who eloped because wedding planning was too distracting), the Christmas tunes may be echoing everywhere but you always control the volume.