I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care recently. Last Friday I had the privilege of speaking to a group of mothers of young children on the topic “Self-Care for Busy Moms.” We discussed why it’s so hard to practice good self-care, the difference between self-care and selfishness, and practical ways to implement healthy self-care. It was a valuable time. It made me realize that this is an issue not just for mothers with young children, but for all of us. All of us need to learn how to practice healthy self-care. This is such an important issue that I will be writing a series of blog posts on this topic.
At this busy time of year, sometimes I find myself switching into endurance mode. I focus on pushing through, on accomplishing goals, on crossing tasks off my to do lists. I tell myself that when the family is all gathered together, when Christmas Day comes, then I’ll be able to relax — right now, there’s work to be done, presents to buy, cards to mail, food to prepare.
And yet… if I have a wonderful Christmas Day but a terrible two weeks leading up to it, is it really worth it? If I focus only on the destination, then I forget to enjoy the journey. And the journey is where life happens.
Ah, the joys of the holiday season! The smell of fresh-baked gingerbread cookies, the cheerful sounds of Christmas carols as we shop, the happiness on the faces of children opening presents, the warm familiarity of loved traditions… there is much to look forward to this time of year.
But oh, the stresses of the holiday season! The crowded stores and packed parking lots, the pressure to buy the perfect gift without blowing the budget, the rush to get ready and head out the door to yet another Christmas event, the arguments with the ex about who gets the kids, the frustrations of hanging out with family members who know just how to push our buttons, the bickering of the kids over who gets to play with the new toys first… there is much to dread about this time of year!
How can we better prepare for the holiday season so that we minimize the stresses and increase the joys? How can we create a more meaningful Christmas season that helps bring our family together?
My husband and I have found that one of the keys to a less-stressful holiday season is to clarify our expectations ahead of time.
In August, Dave and I helped our youngest daughter pack her possessions into a car, drive 50 miles away, and move into a college dorm room. Launching her to college launched us into a new stage of life: the empty nest. So far the transition has been a successful one – for her and for us. And it has me looking back over the 27 years that Dave and I have been parents, looking back and seeing four distinct stages of parenting.