This is part two of a seven part series. See part one here.
It’s the middle of November, and I can feel the stress in the air as I talk with other moms. The holidays are upon us. The to-do lists are never-ending. There are cookies to bake, recitals to attend, sporting events to watch, school parties to plan, gifts to buy, service projects to make, and on and on. Add those to the regular day-to-day activities like keeping up the house, feeding the kids, and just living life, and it’s really no wonder we feel squeezed for time.
In past years, I have felt the stress, too. Running here, there, and everywhere led me to a hard crash when January rolled around. It just wasn’t fun…or healthy. Here are a few tips that have helped me have a more sane holiday season!
Five Ways to Slow Your Schedule During the Holidays
1) Remember your priorities
The very first way to simplify your season is to set priorities. (We talked more about how to do that in the first post in the series here.) When you actually sit down and make a list of what’s important to you and your family during these months, you can look at your schedule to see if what is on the calendar truly fits those priorities.
2) Keep open space on your calendar.
Ahhh….white space. I love the feeling of open, empty spots on the calendar, and I’m choosing to be intentional about keeping them on the schedule this holiday season. This was, in fact, one of the main reasons I think my “Simplify Your Season” experiment actually worked last year.
Our culture tends to think busy = productive, and we fill up our time with meetings, activities, and events. Especially during the holiday season, there are many wonderful ways we could spend our time–but we truly can’t do everything. And it’s okay!! We need to choose the best from the good. The “best” for my family will probably look different from your best, and again, it goes back to our priorities.
(Now, it’s easy to say we want to keep open space on our calendar, but it is much harder to do! My secret weapon? Check out #3 below!!! )
3) Learn to say no.
Oh, this is such a hard one for many of us! This is probably a generalization, but overall I think many women have trouble saying no. I know it has been true for me and true for many friends and acquaintances.
Two things have helped me say no without guilt. First, I evaluate the opportunity in light of my mission and priorities. Second, I don’t say yes or no right away (unless it’s very clear to me that I can’t or don’t want to do it). I like to ask my husband to see what he thinks–he’s pretty wise about seeing ramifications of a commitment I sometimes miss. Taking extra time also means I don’t wind up in over my head (which means less stress for all of us)!
4) Make time for a MWG/MWM every day and once a week.
My MWG/MWM is essential for my sanity! MWG/MWM is just my abbreviation for “Meet with God, Meet with Me”. Every morning, I take time to read my Bible, pray, check the calendar, sketch in to-dos, and get things pulled out for our evening dinner. (I also like to exercise during this time, and I’d love for you to join our Strong Healthy Mom Challenge!)
Once a week during the weekend, I plan out my menu and sketch out the week’s goals and plans. It helps me know the direction we’re headed and simply plan ahead for smoother days!
5) Adjust as you go.
We all know life throws curveballs constantly–and keeping a super strict schedule sets us up for frustration when things don’t go as planned. I prefer to use a more “flowing” approach with rhythm and routine to our days (instead of a minute by minute schedule). Being able to adjust easily, modify your expectations, and follow the Spirit’s lead is so helpful when it comes to slowing down your schedule. Often our best memories are made in the “unplanned” moments of life!
I love keeping a calendar where everyone in the family can see it. I personally am using this Orange Circle Studio “Do It All” calendar on my refrigerator this year. If you’ve never done this before, it’s so helpful to see what’s coming up and how jam-packed (or not) your schedule really has become. I have free printables for November and December that you can print out and hang up if you want to give it a try.
How do you keep your schedule in check during the holidays?!!