It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or is it? For all those moms who claim responsibilities at both work and home, the holidays can morph into a dreaded season instead of a joyous one. Dreading the yuletide demands? Follow these steps for holiday balance.
Say No and Say it Often
Perhaps the most important thing a working mother can do to balance work and family during the holidays is practicing the word “No.” Constantly bombarded with expectations to attend a bevy of holiday events while managing a host of end-of-year work responsibilities, the working mother must feel comfortable saying a definitive “No” to unnecessary demands.
It’s all about self-care. If one is constantly trying to address the holiday whims of everyone in the address book, there is no opportunity to embody the holiday’s central message of peace. Just say, “No!”
If You Work from Home – Take a Daily Siesta
A siesta seems very European to American ears. The idea that one should intentionally “step away” from work and familial obligations to rest and regroup is often met by the response, “That’s just lazy.”
Siestas are an important facet of self-care and are especially important to the mother hoping to balance work and family life. During the laborious stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, mothers should step away from the demands of work and family by taking an afternoon to shop, hike, sleep, enjoy a massage, or the like.
Don’t Compete with “Joneses”
Conspicuous consumption is always on full display during the holidays. Children plead with “Santa” for an exhaustive list of trinkets and textiles, while work colleagues continually show-off the items they’re acquiring in their march toward Christmas morning. Dealing with all the demands for “capital outlays” can stress a working mother who’s attempting to honor a fiscally responsible approach to holiday shopping.
Bottom line? Reducing purchases may reduce the working mom’s stress. Don’t try to outdo neighbors and colleagues if you want to keep your mental edge.
Healthy moms need healthy rituals. From the monthly hair appointment to the daily spin through the Starbucks line, rituals provide holy ground in what can otherwise feel like an unholy rat race.
As the traffic grows and the calendar demands deepen, working mothers should maintain the rituals that afford them precious spaciousness. In fact, working mothers may also want to add some rituals during the long holiday expanse. A trip to the movies or a “lunch date for one,” could go a long way toward safeguarding the working mom’s peace of mind.
Get Your Sleep
Ample research indicates that poor sleep patterns sully health and quality of life. We all need adequate sleep to function in daily life. Working moms, especially, may trim the sleep schedule when the expectations of vocation and parenthood fill the calendar. Add the busyness of the holidays to already taxed routines, and you have a recipe for struggle, if not disaster.
While moms are the closest thing we have to superheroes, we must not forget that they have their limitations too. Get your sleep, mom. Your body and your beloved ones will appreciate your attention on this important matter.
Revisit the Old Recipes
When one peruses the old recipe books, the memories flood into consciousness. Holiday recipes have a way of connecting us with the people and experiences that marked our celebrations of yesteryear.
Mom, if you are overwhelmed by the frenetic pace of the holiday march, put on the apron, step into the kitchen, and revisit an old recipe. As you craft the cookies or the exquisite loaf of bread, remember the joyous moments of life before all the responsibilities.
As a bonus, invite your partner and your children to join you on your kitchen getaway.
One may not be religious, but all are certainly wired for spirituality. Whether you claim your spiritual center on the yoga mat or the inner sanctum of the temple, it is important to cultivate and sustain spiritual practice.
Moms who are trying to balance family and work during the holidays, may discover that the protection of spiritual practice is essential. If you don’t have a viable spiritual practice, reach out to those who do. Visit a synagogue, consult with a guru at the local yoga practice, or just find a place “apart” to disconnect from the world’s troubles.
Gather with Friends
Gathering with friends may be as important to you as spiritual practice. Given all the “entertaining” demanded during the holidays, wouldn’t it be sublime to claim a little “connection” for yourself?
Moms should carve some holiday time for connection with good friends. A nice holiday meal, cookie exchange or trip to happy hour may do the trick.
Let Dad Help
Without launching into a diatribe on gender roles, I think we can all agree that dads should be willing to support the working mom during the holiday crunch.
Encourage dad to take the kids shopping or on another outing so you can claim a little more time to recharge. Also, encourage your partner to take some ownership of holiday preparation.
Don’t Forget to Laugh
Finally, remember to laugh amid all your holiday “moving and shaking.” If the working mom is overly invested in the all the holiday responsibilities “piled-on” at work and home, she has little time to savor the joy of the season.
Have a drink, share good stories with your family, and laugh.