I love the holiday season, but for me it’s all about maintaining balance.
Time with family, the holiday scents, the get-togethers, the music, the cookies, the traditions – I love all of these things! I don’t love the frenzied shopping, the stress, the crazy to-do lists. You see, I am not one of those people that starts Christmas preparations in July. I start Christmas preparations in December. So how do I plan on maintaining balance this month and still experiencing the joy of Christmas?
To maintain balance you’ll need to make some adjustments.
There are some people who say there is no such thing as balance for a mom. I disagree. Others say one area of your life will suffer when you’re doing well in a different area. I don’t agree with that either. I don’t think one area of your life has to suffer, I think it just has to become less of a priority for awhile.
As a working mom with two kids, who’s committed to not being the “tired mom” all the time, the balance that works for me needs to be adjusted sometimes. The holiday season is one of those times. During the holiday season, my personal life is much busier than usual.
Shopping. Family commitments. Baking. Cooking. Picture taking. Card making, addressing, sending. Gift buying, wrapping, hiding.
There are shortcuts to some of those things. You can combine your dinner prep with holiday food prep. Enlist the kids to help with cleaning. You can have Shutterfly address your cards for you!
I find that you also have to scale back in another area of your life…
I’ve been practicing time management and goal setting, and I think both are helpful in maintaining balance during the holidays. I can use what I’ve learned to adjust my priorities and make room for all the holiday to-dos.
Since I know how I spend my time, I know where I can make changes. Where I have a little bit of wiggle room. I’ve also realized I can get things done at times I wouldn’t normally think to do them. I don’t have to go to the store at a certain time on a certain day. I may be able to fit it in somewhere else. And I’m really good at combining errands.
I won’t be setting goals around the holidays, but I will be sure to plan ahead. I’ll sit down with my husband and make a list of all the things we want to get done and when they need to be done. I’ll go through my planner or calendar and add all those things in.
I know myself, if I don’t write it all down, there are things that will slip my mind.
So I will do a big planning session, but also add stuff in as I think of it.
My kids are young enough (and they’re in daycare everyday) that they don’t have any activities. I also don’t have much else going on besides spending time with my family and working on a few personal pursuits. I mean I have two children under four. So what can I scale back on during the holiday season? Honestly, it’s time on the couch. And time spent doing fun activities of my choice with the family. There will be plenty of fun activities, but most of them will be family commitments.
I will squeeze as much as I can into my workdays, because my job is flexible and thankfully this is a (relatively) slow time of year for us. At least it usually is. This year is shaping up to be fairly busy, but I will still have some flexibility. I will also make some excursions in the evening when I would normally be relaxing or waiting for my oldest daughter to call out for me before she falls asleep.
Our fun family activities will be parties, time spent with extended family, and making our own traditions (hopefully a bunch of stuff from this list). This will include more travel than we would normally cram into a few weekends, so we will have to account for that time, too. There may be some missed naps and late bedtimes, but we will work through it. I will continue to prioritize my own sleep (at least 7.5 hours/night), so I don’t end up cranky and overly emotional. Well, I’ll probably be overly emotional, but my extended family already knows that.
And then, at the very end of the year, I will prioritize my family and take time off work.
Will my life be busier than it normally is? Undoubtedly. Will there be snowstorms and other incidents that affect our plans? Definitely. Will maintaining balance be difficult? Probably.
But I will I do my best to go with the flow, enjoy the moment, and really listen.
I think that by planning, knowing what my commitments are, and thinking ahead, I will be able to enjoy the holiday season the way I want to. Now, I’m a realist, so I know there will be times when someone will be upset and one of us will yell at the kids. I’ll do my best to remember I can only control my own reaction. That one mistake doesn’t mean we are failures. That it doesn’t have to “ruin” anything. It happens and we can move on. We can still have a good time.