As the holiday season comes upon us once again, I am starting to feel the stress of adding even more things to my already-long To-Do List. It seems that this is a common feeling among many people during this time of year, and especially among moms.
Many of us moms get caught up in planning for holiday parties and get-togethers, family photo shoots, gift exchanges, holiday menus and recipes, etc. — on top of all the usual daily events, such as work, after-school activities, housework, homework, and making dinner. We compare ourselves with other moms, wondering whether and how we can keep up with them and all the extra stuff THEY can fit into their daily schedule.
On November 20, 2013, Jen Mann posted an article on huffingtonpost.com entitled, “World’s Okayest Mom”. She talked about the pressure to be the “World’s Best Mom” — not just from the expectations that others have of us as moms, but also from the expectations we have of ourselves. Ms. Mann found that she was able to relax and enjoy this time of year, when she learned to let go of her “mommy guilt” and instead “just slow down and breathe and be.” She learned to be happy being the “World’s Okayest Mom”, rather than endlessly striving to become the “World’s Greatest Mom”.
So how do we learn to become — and enjoy — being the “World’s Okayest Mom”? Below are my “Top Three” suggestions:
1. Set your “Top Three” goals for what you want for yourself and your family during this holiday season.
When we set our goals, we have a much greater chance of actually achieving them. My own “Top Three” goals during each holiday season are: a) make happy lifetime memories with loved ones, b) celebrate the holiday season, and c) enjoy the holiday season. Incidentally, for me, all three of these goals are interrelated. To put it another way, I make happy lifetime memories with my loved ones BY celebrating AND enjoying the holiday season with them.
2. Figure out what your personal limits (i.e.,”boundaries”) are, in relation to your stated goals.
There are numerous ways to stay true to our goals without sacrificing our personal limits. For instance, I don’t like to cook, and my idea of baking is adding water, egg, and oil to a Ghirardelli brownie mix (yum!). Even though I am no Martha Stewart, I can still celebrate and enjoy the holidays without having to cook my own turkey or bake a homemade pie from scratch. So I just leave that stuff to the experts — and I buy TAKEOUT to bring to any holiday gathering. One of the BEST Thanksgivings I ever had was when I ordered a full Thanksgiving meal (including turkey, sides and pie) from Marie Callender’s Restaurant. A fun and stress-free time (plus a wonderfully delicious meal!) was had by all.
3. Stay flexible, and plan for unexpected scheduling / menu / tradition changes.
Especially during the holiday season, we all tend to have certain expectations of who we are “supposed” to spend time with, what family traditions we are “supposed” to uphold, and when /where / how we are “supposed” to celebrate. But when we are so focused on all these types of details and expectations, we end up totally losing track of the WHY of the holiday season — and then we just end up feeling frustrated, drained, and disappointed. Who would want to spend the holidays that way? One of the best ways I have found to maintain my festive spirit throughout the holiday season (and beyond) is to make my plans, and then trust that everything will work out exactly the way it is meant to be.
The bottom line is, the holiday season is a time for us to appreciate, honor, and celebrate the people and things that are most important to us. When we align our goals with the reason for the season, then we will focus our time, energy, and best efforts on our most valued priorities. And whenever we put out our best efforts whether it is the holiday season or not), we will already be the “BEST MOM” we can be.
There may be times in your life when you struggle to figure out your life priorities. Those are the times when it may be helpful to work with a licensed family counselor, who can help you determine who and what is most important to you.