I used to work with a woman who had a Christmas tree in every room of her house. I do well to get one tree up before Christmas and down before February. For me the time from Thanksgiving through New Year’s really is “the most wonderful time of the year.”
At one time, I used to bake a cheesecake from scratch, prepare homemade macaroni and cheese, bake a ham and prepare trimmings. I also used to order custom Christmas cards every year. One year, I ordered the cards, and never had time to mail them. That’s when I started thinking about the purpose of the season. It’s a time to slow down. To be grateful. To enjoy the company of friends, family and loved ones.
Why allow it to become a season of rushing and stress-filled days and nights?
Here are a few simple ways to have a harmonious holiday season:
1. Determine your non-negotiables. What are the three or four things that make your season special? For me it’s getting the tree up, going out and looking at Christmas lights and seeing the joy and surprise on my children’s faces when they open their gifts.
2. Sleep at least 7 hours every night. When you get adequate rest, you have more energy for the extra tasks, and your problem solving skills are sharper. If you are only sleeping a few hours a night, your body will crave carbohydrates and caffeine to fill the energy void.
3. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise four times a week. Keep it simple. Take a walk. Use your treadmill or find an exercise class on YouTube. Exercise will help to reduce your stress and give you more energy for your busy days.
4. Delegate. Small hands, lazy hands and uninterested hands are still hands that can handle some of the tasks on your to do list.
5. Accept that good enough is good enough for some projects. Aim for okay or average on unimportant projects. Accept that some things don’t need to be done perfectly. Your house doesn’t have to be spotless before you can invite guests over. You don’t have to prepare every dish from scratch.
6. Establish and maintain a day of rest. Your day does not have to be Sunday. Set aside one day a week when you don’t work. If you enjoy sewing, organizing, canning or baking, then do those tasks on your day off. One day a week should be free of a frenzied pace and unwelcome tasks.
7. Conquer your to-do list. Create a master holiday to do list. On your list, mark your priorities and the non-negotiables that you established. Each day, prepare a daily to-do list on a piece of paper or a sticky note that is no larger than 2×2 inches. You’ll only be able to place about four items on this tiny daily to-do list. On the daily, to-do list, handle the most unpleasant task first. Using this small daily to-do list forces you to focus on the highest priorities and forces you to keep the list manageable.
Begin employing these strategies now so that your holidays will be smooth, low stress and fun.