Around these parts, Sarah and I have a common holiday-mom refrain: Mom, you deserve a magical holiday, too.
It’s so easy to get caught up in doing for others – our kids, our spouses, our extended families, our churches, our communities, our workplaces – working so hard to inject doses of joy into other peoples’ holiday experiences that we lose sight of whether we’re actually, you know, enjoying ourselves.
But parents set the tone for the household – and by extension, the holiday. How you feel about the way you spend this time will absolutely affect the way your family feels about it – even if you aren’t consciously aware of the emotional transfer. (Go ahead, ask a therapist.)
I don’t know about you, but if I had to choose between offering my kids a cheerful mom or more gifts, better cookies or nicer decor, I’d choose cheer every time. Both because it’s better for my family, but also because it’s better for me. I’m a human being too, and deserve a joyful holiday – however that looks for me. Let’s not lose sight of that!
As this week winds to a close, ask yourself:
- Did I do anything for myself this week? Is the way I’m spending my time benefitting me (which, as a reminder, also indirectly benefits everyone I interact with)?
- Is there anything I haven’t found time for yet that would help me have a more magical holiday – even if it’s not something my kids care about? (Remember that this doesn’t have to be a big thing or even what some might find “restful.” If sitting quietly with a cup of cocoa and poring over your holiday to-do list brings you joy and contributes to your feeling of magic, it totally counts.)
- Is there anything I’m doing only because I my family cares about it, even if it’s joyless for me? And, wait a second – do I know for sure that my family cares about it or do I just assume they do? And even if they really do, is the tradeoff of energy, time, and money worth the joy of the activity itself? When I’m really honest with myself about things like this, I find that I am often clinging to worn-out traditions for outdated reasons, or simply playing Martyr Mom by grudgingly continuing to do something I would rather not. It’s OK to bow out – and your kids will live and adjust.
- How is the list of “things I’m doing for myself” vs “things I’m doing for everyone else” shaping up? It may be helpful to draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper, and put all the things you do for yourself in one column and the things you do for your loved ones in the other. It’s OK for some items to wind up in both columns! I don’t expect both columns to be equally long – I mean, we ARE moms, after all; giving is just part of the job description – but this exercise can help you see if there are glaring discrepancies between the amount of energy you’re pouring into everyone else and what you’re leaving for yourself.
- If the balance between things I do for myself and things I do for the kids seems off, what’s one small tweak I can make to even it out in the upcoming weeks? Permission granted to abandon thankless and exhausting traditions, even if they’re half underway, and to add in something that gives YOU energy and delight.
Remember, this holiday-mom thing is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve got many years ahead of you to add to your plate, and one day, the activities that seem possible to pull off this year may just be be doable again. In the meantime, make it manageable and find magic where you can – because your holiday joy matters too, Mama.