Today has been A DAY. Ok really the past couple of days have been. Past couple of weeks? Needless to say it’s been a series of difficult days for quite some time. The holiday season can feel like a blur of spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need (and don’t have a place for anyway), attending events that you don’t want to go to and cramming in EVERY OUNCE of special family moments possible! (SO SPECIAL!)
How do you keep from losing your mind and tossing the gold spray painted pine cones (Pinterest told you would make your table complete) at your family? Try these five simple suggestions.
There are no prizes for being the busiest person.
I am about to blow your mind. You don’t want to go to that party? You really don’t have time to grab that cup of coffee with your friend? You would really rather just spend your day off watching a movie/ catching up on email/ staring at the wall than volunteering in your kid’s classroom? Don’t go. Say no. There are no prizes for being the busiest person. Sure there are whispered accolades or “bless her heart, I don’t know how she does it all.” I don’t know about you but I’d take sanity over that any day.
Stop the glorification of busy. You are good. And saying no doesn’t make you any less so. There is no need for long drawn out explanations either. Just an “I’m sorry I can’t” is all that’s needed. And yes, there are those obligations that you can’t get out of- a holiday work party or dinner at your in-laws. You don’t have to stay forever. Two hours is plenty. Then feel free to make your exit.
Forget the Jones’
Seriously- those glittery pine cones- are they bringing you joy? If not, stop it! Is that little outdoor lighting rivalry with your neighbor fun or exhausting? If it’s more trouble than it’s worth, then it’s time to let it go. Take an inventory of your traditions and perform an honest examination of your motives. Anything that is motivated by the desire to keep up with or look good to others? LET. THAT. SHIT. GO.
Keep it Simple
As for the things that you decide to do, keep them simple
You don’t have to bake the cookies, go to the ice skating rink, go see Santa, build gingerbread houses, men, women and children, hang mistletoe in every door way, organize a toy drive, make DIY presents for every teacher, mail carrier and Walmart greeter and deck all of your halls in custom, organic, locally sourced tree trimmings. Write down all of the things that you want to do. Ask your kids. Now cut that list by 75%.
Instead of doing it all, take this time to remember what the season is all about-whether that be the birth of Jesus, the oil that miraculously burned for 8 days, or even just an unnamed glowy magic that accompanies the holidays. Appreciate the company of those you love. As for the things that you decide to do, keep them simple- watch a movie together, drink hot cocoa, drive around to look at lights, cut paper snowflakes (hey that covers your decorating too! Your days are numbered, pine cones…). These things are just as magical and your kids will have much fonder memories if you are relaxed than of a frazzled mama who forced the elaborate new “tradition.”
Spend Less Time on Social Media
There is no way to feel bad about yourself faster than comparing your life to what people present on social media. Stop comparing your behind the scenes with other people’s highlight reels. And just as we take in so much information from social media, so do we also put a great deal out. This can lead to seeking validation and affirmation. We spend so much time checking Facebook for likes on that picture of us baking Christmas cookies that we are not actually present in the moment of baking Christmas cookies. Take pictures, share a few but print the rest for a real, actual photo album that you make in the new year. C’mon, we’re trying to create less stress here.
Take advantage of any still, quiet moments that come your way
Breathe and slow down
Take time away from the noise to listen to that small soft voice. Take advantage of any still, quiet moments that come your way- waiting for the bank to open, that blessed silence before your class comes in from lunch. Close your eyes and breathe it in. Include your kids in it. The more people soaking up peace and calm in your life, the easier it will be for you to maintain your zen. I have three words for you (no, not “vodka in coffee”, although you do what you gotta do to get you through): Relaxing Christmas Music. Look it up on Youtube or plug it into your Pandora or ask Alexa for her preferred playlist. It’s just enough Christmas to get everyone into the spirit and just enough chill to keep everyone from cranking up the volume.
Light candles. Take walks. Feed the birds. Drink cider in front of the fire. Whatever brings you back to your center.
Open yourself up to the gentle glow of the holidays by closing off all of the extra noise. And for God sake, enough with the pine cones.