This time of year I like to focus on practical tips and tricks to get you through the pressure of the holiday seasons. Last week I talked about holiday food (it was American Thanksgiving) and the fact that you should enjoy it. The food, I mean.
This week I’m sharing three keys that I have used (and see all over the place now) for calming down a lot of the chaos that happens during the holidays. Using these keys helps you create a space for joyful holidays- they make a container to hold the good that you want this season.
Key 1: Do less.
If you’re like most of the women I know, your December weekends have been booked for at least a month, maybe longer. And while that may totally light you up, many of us feel tired before we even head out the door.
Not to mention that there are, you know, family things you like to do and would like to include them in your festivities.
So here’s what you do: you pick the top 4 or 5 most important things. Get those in your calendar. And politely say, “I’m sorry, I just can’t make it this year” to everything else. At our house, each person (2 adults, 2 kids) gets to choose one thing they really, really want to do- and we do them. We also pick two parties we want to go to and leave the rest behind.
When we do this (we’ve done it for about 4 years now), there is ample time to decorate, make cookies and other special foods, and also to r-e-l-a-x and enjoy things. I really love this dark part of the year and having time to snuggle down with the family, watch a few holiday movies, and just hang with each other is so valuable. Cutting down on activities makes random fun more probable.
Key 2: Plan it.
This is really closely related to Key 1, but also important on it’s own. Getting the important stuff into your calendar is vital to making sure it happens. We do our planning around Thanksgiving- either the day of or the day after (which is to say: you still have time to make choices! ). We sit everyone down, talk about the important activities, and pick a time for each of them- and they go straight into everyone’s calendar.
This can also apply to the smaller stuff- if you know you want to make cookies on the second weekend in December make sure to plan for it. Get the ingredients on the grocery list. Block out time (make sure you didn’t book a hair appointment like I did!). Move backwards from the goal and make sure you have all the pieces in place. This is also good for making sure you have time with your spouse, time with each kid, time to wrap presents, time to write cards, etc. Get it on paper and you’re more likely to do it.
Key 3: Decide on, and hold, boundaries.
When we talk about boundaries, we are talking about the lines in the sand that we determine for ourselves we won’t go past. These lines can be emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, environmental, or communicative. Naming these lines and making decisions based on them is a positive way to support yourself during the holidays.
For instance, picking a budget boundary and sticking to it is one way to hold that line. (Also: research proves, more stuff does not equal more happiness.) You can also pick a boundary for when Aunt Nadine starts heading towards ‘nasty drunkenness’ and decide that you will leave when she hits that level (don’t forget to discuss this with your partner!). A boundary might also be that when your body tells you it’s overwhelmed at a party, you’ll give yourself permission to leave. You might create a boundary where you simply refuse to talk about your cousin and her terrible choices with any other family member (you will cough, or smile, or excuse yourself to the bathroom instead).
Think back to all the difficult situations you’ve found yourself in during holidays past and then make some boundaries to avoid the difficulty. Drawing those boundary lines and sticking to them is a great way to help yourself this season.
I know that many of my readers are from different countries with different religious paths and holidays. But these ideas apply whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Winter Solstice, Diwali, Ramadan, Vesak, Hannukah, or any other major holiday I’ve forgotten. The point is that your sanity matters so that you can enjoy the celebrations- and these keys will help.
::: ::: ::: :::
Next week: WTF does any of this have to do with mid-life, hormones, or the Sex Surge anyway?
We’re gonna talk about that- stay tuned!