Don’t know about you, but I feel like the two-headed lady during the holidays. It’s the time of year that the difference between living in Holland and Italy is most stark. Where my childhood expectations (and, sadly, childhood hang-ups!) come back in full force and get into fist fights with reality. Because of that, I struggle to be present – genuine, joyful, honest and in the moment – and my moods ricochet like racquetballs in my head.
After all, how am I supposed to mix Burl Ives, Christmas cookies, and caroling with my kids’ PT, psychiatric appointments, meds adjustments and therapeutic parenting?! Not to mention balancing work vs. home and friends vs. Hubby!
I definitely don’t have the secret sauce nailed down for that blend yet, but here are some ways to find more hours in our day and cultivate peace on earth during the holidays instead of being a Scrooge!
Embrace the white space on your calendar. Don’t have any for the next 6 weeks because of social expectations, holiday events, and all the usual appointments? Then start erasing. When we don’t have breathing room in our schedules, we get distracted easily, feel more stressed out, and lose our joy. Cutting or rescheduling some of what we have planned (and not just the fun stuff!) will give you back time you would have spent distracted and worrying about all you have to do!
Make creative adjustments to gift-giving. Everyone in our family is matched with one other person, and we have a set monetary limit for each gift. That way we can focus on one thoughtful gift and maybe even get to know a family member better as we sleuth for ideas! It frees up time we would be shopping, and allows space for other joys of the season.
Make a list, check it twice, and then shop online. Crowded stores = bad mood. Bad mood = less efficient in using your time. Instead of standing in shopping lines for hours, hit the stores at odd hours (not after work), or just skip it altogether. Moms and students get free 2-day shipping through Amazon.com’s Prime programs. And others can group like items for those on their shopping list so you can meet the minimum spending cutoff for free shipping on most sites.
Get a personal chef. I have one. It’s called Mr. Crock Pot. With more activities, we tend to eat more prepared and fast foods, which are expensive, fattening, and leave us feeling less jolly than we could. The crock pot gives you more time in a few key ways: 1) Preparing ingredients can double as family time as everyone assembles ingredients, 2) It frees dinner hour to do other things (or just relax) instead of cooking over a hot stove, and 3) The healthier, more balanced meals give you time to enjoy the festivities instead of being constantly under-the-weather.
Hosting this year? Consider a pot-luck version of the traditional meal. Make it a family celebration by having people help choose the theme, and bring a dish they love and make brilliantly. Everyone signs up for something and you make the main course or the meat. And, bonus, you have more time to enjoy people when they come to dinner instead of running madly through the house with gravy on your holiday best.
Get the house ready for company by giving to others. This one’s about reducing the clutter so we can feel more comfortable in our homes… and it doubles as a family opportunity to give to those who have little this season. Each family member gathers a bag of toys/clothes soon after Thanksgiving. It gives us more time because a de-cluttered house takes less effort to clean. And it gives us mental space that helps us be more efficient during our day.
Get connected… with you! I’ve discovered many times during holiday events and shopping that I’ve been thirsty for hours, or somehow skipped a meal. In the busy holiday season, spending 30 seconds in quiet stillness a few times a day can reconnect us with how we’re feeling, what we need, and what we really value. It gives us time as it helps us focus on caring for ourselves and doing what really matters.
What things help you find more time during the holiday season?