Just the words themselves can conjure up so many mixed emotions.
Elation: Finally! A few days off to tackle organizing my sock drawer (said no one ever.)
Joy: I truly love the smell and taste of pumpkin pie with the sounds of football in the background. Ahhh…
Fear: What if Aunt Betty shows up and starts a fight with Dad again?!
Sadness: I miss my Mom… it’s hard to imagine not being with her this year.
Here are a few likely facts about the holidays that are universal for all of us, regardless of our religious beliefs or the size of our family.
- You have complicated family dynamics that you have to deal with to some extent.
- There are expectations around what you should do, what you should eat and when, how you spend your time and money, and who you spend the holidays with.
- Your needs aren’t necessarily at the top of the to-do list.
I’ve spent many holiday moons contemplating these facts and feeling, these emotions (and so many more!)
My gratitude for my life, and for the time off with the people I love most, is parallel to the anxiety I have felt for trying to do it all and be it all for everyone.
I am not some wise old owl with 80 years under my belt who is going to tell you to just relax and enjoy the small stuff. Although that wise owl is exactly right, getting to the relaxing stage during the holidays takes diligence and patience with yourself. Navigating the holidays as a mother of young children becomes more enjoyable each year when I actively practice the following:
Letting go of perfectionism:
So, the turkey is a little dry… oh well! As we say in my home: “No one has lost a limb.” When you are cooking, running after littles, connecting with family, running a home, and (trying) to look and feel fabulous, something is going to go awry. Guaranteed. Being in the flow of whatever happens, while truly accepting the imperfection that life brings takes a whale-ton of pressure off of you, which equals a lot more joy.
“Sorry, Everyone. Although I love contributing to the meal, I’m already feeling under water with everything on my plate. Making the cream puffs, the ham, and the rainbow cake with dancing elves just isn’t in the cards for me this year.”
Contrary to popular belief, research shows that setting boundaries and explicitly stating them actually means you are more compassionate, not less. In other words, you aren’t passive-aggressively saying a yes through gritted teeth while silently cursing the request and stewing in resentment, which only ends up hurting you.
Make “you time” a priority:
One of my favorite speakers and strategists says, “If you don’t have 10 minutes, you don’t have a life.” Hearing this was a big AH-HA moment for me. I find when I take at least 10 minutes to take care of myself, I am more patient when so-and-so needs my undivided attention for the remaining 720 minutes of the day.
Inevitably you are holding it together in ways you never imagined before you took on the role of motherhood. You can have the food, the festivities, and the healthy family, but if you don’t have your sanity then you won’t be able to truly experience any of the happiness they bring.