Creating Breathing Room for the Holidays


Remember when holidays were fun and didn't make our heads spin with lists of to-do's? I feel like too often we say, or hear from friends, “I’m so glad the holidays are over – I’m exhausted.” Or a sentiment along those lines. On November 1st we’re excited to wear sweaters, light a fire, and dive into festive family activities… but by December 26th we’re maxed out and ready to lock ourselves in the bathroom. Between school activities, family photos, overspending on gifts, a full social schedule, and visitors, it makes sense we’re tired.


And all those things listed above are good in and of themselves. What isn’t so great is when we say yes when we want to say no, when we stay up way too late trying to make things perfect, when we put our self care of the back-burner, and when we feel bummed because we know we’re not really present.


Let's get back to the magic of the season... or at least a new kind of magic – SPACE. Space to actually enjoy baking cookies instead of being flustered by the mess, space to enjoy buying gifts for loved ones, space to just be. Sounds like a gift to me!


In this post I’ve invited my friend, fellow mom and founder of Mother Untitled, Neha Ruch, to help share our personal intentions for this season, along with practical ways to achieve the space we’re all seeking. The hope is that this year on December 26th, we can say “that was nice” and actually mean it.


Priorities and Intentions


Whether it's the clutter in your home, the business in your calendar, or the projects on your to-do list, it all takes up space. By clearing out what doesn't truly add to your life, you make room for more memories, peace of mind, or items you would love to add to your home.


This year I’m wanting to be really clear on my priorities and intentions for the holidays. Of course I always think about what I want to have happen – my family to be together, to be happy, to be festive, to create memories. But I don’t give myself the time to think through how my priorities will guide my intentions, which will guide my actions.


If you could choose just one thing as your priority this holiday what would it be?


Here are questions I’m asking myself this year to guide my intentions:

How do I want my family to be together?

Ex: I want us to be able to enjoy the activities we do together and the events we attend. That means taking more time to be present in the moment.

What does happiness look like for us?

Ex: The simple things are the best things. Slowing down and simply being with each other – reading Christmas iSpy books, watching Elf, etc.

What traditions do we love?

Ex: Visiting Santa, decorating cookies, driving around looking at holiday lights

My overall priority: not keeping the kids out too late and having everyone fall apart.


What can be cut out this year to create more space for the items above? We all have obligations that we have to tend to, but there are many we *think* we have to attend, but in reality, we can cut them out. Similarly, it’s important to think about what might not have worked last year and be okay with letting it go… For example, my kids really don’t enjoy that outing like I imagine they should in my head ;)


"The key to enjoying any chapter, or season, or in this case holiday, is getting clear on what you want to make room for and what you are actively choosing to let go. There’s always next season - life, career and memory making are a long game." - Neha


Prompt: What activities do you want to prioritize this season? What are you willing or wanting to not do this year?


Boundaries


If you have a hard time saying no to things, I CAN RELATE. This is such a challenge overall in motherhood but is especially difficult during the holidays — class parties, extra activities and outings, homemade treats, a new set up for Elf on the Shelf every. single. day. It's a lot and it's okay to set boundaries. You'll be doing yourself and your family a favor by choosing what's best and most manageable for you.

It’s so hard to say no… to our relatives, to our kid’s teacher, to our friend… even to the checker at Target asking us if we want to open a Target credit card. But saying no is absolutely essential to creating space for the yes’s that we want.


"We read somewhere that commitments made out of obligation instead of desire turn into resentment. We get it - when it comes to family there are obligations but going into this season of giving, can you give more of your time back to yourself by politely opting out of something to opt into things you enjoy?" - Neha


Prompt: What are things you’ve signed up for, emotionally, financially or tactically, that you’d rather say no to? If you can’t say no, how might you change the commitment to align with what you can or want to give?


Setting Expectations


Whether it's from TV commercials, Instagram posts, school newsletters, or community bulletins, there are so many messages coming our way every day about what's happening for the holidays. The reality is that there's only so much time in the day and only so many days in the month. I was just planning out our December today and thought "how do I only have four weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas to schedule all of this?" If that's you, stop and think about what's really possible and set expectations with those around you (and yourself!). Whether that means outsourcing cleaning for the month, making your next gathering a potluck dinner instead of cooking it all on your own, or shopping at your local shops that offer gift wrapping — it all adds up and takes those unnecessary expectations off your plate.


"Just like the saying goes, you can do it all, just not at the same time. This applies to what you can expect for yourself during the holiday frenzy. Whether you delegate gift wrapping to your partner, outsource gift card mailing to services like Postable or Artifact Uprising, or buy store-bought goodies for the teachers gifts, coming up with a plan ahead of time lets you operate from a place of control instead of last minute panic (guilty!)." - Neha


Prompt: Of the checklist below, which things do you want to handle and which can you outsource or delegate?


Self Care (Sanity-Savers)


You are a priority! This season is definitely about giving and serving but don't forget about yourself. Taking the time to prioritize what helps you feel at peace, strong, healthy, and joyful is so crucial to feeling your best this season — emotionally, physically, and mentally. Be kind to yourself and make sure you make time for yourself, especially during the busy holiday season.


"This season is so often in service of others but we are big believers that investing in yourself allows you to give from a healthier place to your family and friends. Decide ahead of time on the non-negotiables that keep you feeling like you’re taking good care of yourself and give yourself permission to invest in that daily care." - Neha


Prompt: What are three things - big or small - you need daily? Write them down with a plan on how you’re going to make them happen for you.


Accountability


This may look like extra work at first but can quickly become a lifeline for encouragement. Thank goodness for those around us that can remind us, keep us accountable, and encourage us to prioritize making space in our lives — whether it's friends, family, partners, or colleagues.


In the effort of creating space this season, we've included a free printable to help you work through this process on paper. Having it all written down and visible in your home or planner is a great daily reminder to prioritize yourself and your family during the holidays.


Bonus: Share this with a friend or friends. Create a text thread and do a daily check in over the next month to make sure you are holding each other accountable to making more room for you, this holiday season.



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