She’s the frazzled, frustrated, frumpy woman running around fussing at kids, juggling everything, and trying to make it all happen. She seems to appear at times of intense activity, like Christmas. She’s feared and dreaded in my home, yet she always seems to weasel her way back in. She’s the mom I don’t want to be.
This year, I’m kicking her to the curb. No more trying to win the imaginary prize for most busy. I’m ready to actually learn to enjoy the holidays, once and for all. Here are my strategies for keeping my inner grinch at bay:
I’m starting with the big picture.
Similar to a project in business, I’m zooming out on the holidays, identifying the most important things I want to experience, and then making my choices accordingly. In the big picture, I want my children to feel loved, I want to deepen my family’s faith as we celebrate days that are sacred to us, and I want to make moments of joy to be experienced and remembered. This year, I’m choosing things for the holidays that line up with those criteria.
I’ve made a no-store rule.
Using the heck out of online delivery services for groceries and gifts, my goal is to stay completely out of the stores this year. There’s nothing I, as a working mom, dread more than a trip to a store after a long day. Few things trigger grinch-y mom more than spending an evening or even a Saturday in a picked-over store while listening to my child’s latest pitch for the item he simply must have. I actually figured in the tips and delivery fees as a gift to myself, an investment in a peaceful holiday for the family and for the mom.
I’m cutting way back on activities.
This year, I’m opting for fewer activities that will really be savored instead of trying to make every single thing that comes up. We plan on attending one or two special things, looking forward to them, letting excitement build, and really getting the most out of them. If we aren’t careful, holidays can become a marathon of nightly activities that leave working moms utterly spent. Even if this year’s social calendar is slim due to COVID, family traditions can tend to take over, also. How can getting a tree and decorating it be special and memorable if it’s just one of several evening events in a December week? Why not make it the only event my family does one week and make it something to anticipate and enjoy, not just another thing to check off the list?
I’ve decided to have a good time.
Most of the time, when I’m feeling good about something, that vibe rubs off on my family. This year, instead of trying to pull off a holiday for everyone else that leaves me exhausted, I’m aiming to have a holiday that is fun for me, too. As moms, we do all we can for our children and hope to give them joy. In the process, we often overwork ourselves and end up so frustrated that joy fades into the background and stress takes its place. What if things were fun for us also, making it much easier to relax into the experience and set the tone for the rest of the family? Sometimes this might mean I make a choice to do something I want to do, or it might mean a change in my mindset or intention. For example, most of us moms are used to having an empty stocking unless we purchase our own items. Why not have fun with it and enjoy getting a few goodies for myself rather than feel resentful about having to get my own gifts?
Everyday life is a challenge for moms who work outside the home, and the holidays can make things more slippery. Tired of dreading a time of year that is supposed to be wonderful, I’m hoping these tactics will make for a holiday season that brings hope and joy to the ending of a difficult year. This working mom is ready for some cheer.