The holidays can sometimes feel like a highlighter on the glorification of the word busy. Some of the bustling can be exciting, but if you’re like me, the constant rushing from here to there can actually put a damper on the joy of the season. Too much to do and too much to buy suck the magic right out of of this beautiful time of year, but I’ve been determined to not let that happen this year.
The truth is I’m not a natural at simplifying; I have to work at it. I crave simplicity but the implementation of the concept sometimes eludes me in favor of packing all my must-do items into my day like a game of Tetris. Still, it remains a goal and with good reason: when life is more simple, it’s easier to enjoy. I see the simplifying trend all around and maybe it’s because we’ve all realized the truth: that more stuff and more to do doesn’t equal more joy. In fact, in my experience I’ve found that the opposite is true.
In order to maximize the wonder and cut down on the anxiety of the season I actually sat down and created a list of actionable steps to simplify my life during the holidays. I’ve been implementing them for a couple weeks now and found these small changes helpful enough that I thought they might just be worth sharing with you.
Limit food decisions. Decide that X will be breakfast this week and X will be lunch. The less decisions I have to make the better. I typically keep dinners simple too, that way the only meal I have to put thought into is Christmas itself!
And I won’t complain about Greek veggie sandwiches for lunch everyday!
Stop multitasking. I feel like I’m really good at it and if it’s wrapping presents and watching Love Actually, I can totally rock it. But if it’s decorating the tree while checking email? Driving the kids to see Christmas lights while calling insurance about a billing discrepancy? Running around and cleaning the kitchen while the family eats dinner? That makes me miss out on the good stuff. I’ve really been forcing myself to focus on one thing at a time lately. I’m not great at it yet, but I’m making progress.
Prioritize time with the ones you love most. I know I sometimes get so caught up in all I have to do for others that I neglect the people that mean the most to me. Saying no to some things so you can say YES to the important people is crucial. For example, David I planned a date day on a recent Sunday afternoon. We did a little Christmas shopping and wandered around town, but most importantly we just got to hang out with each other while we were awake (me) and not wrapped up in work (him).
Also, local friends, we are a big fan of the pizza and atmosphere at Novanta 90 at Langtree! I mean, just look…
Do one load of laundry every day. This is a popular tip that so many organizers suggest and I see why. I’m not always consistent with it, but when I am I do I notice how much more at peace my house feels. It only counts if I follow all the way through though because hitting “refresh” on the dryer button 12 times just adds to my headache. Around the holidays there is so much to do on the weekends that we are often out running around. Not coming home to a mountain of laundry is so nice!
Less TV more games. The exception here is obviously uplifting holiday movies. Rock those out! But the news? Background clutter? Turn it off. Board games and puzzles will foster connection and joy much more than hearing all the details on the latest scandal.
Ease up on the strict schedule. For six years I’ve been a stickler for a schedule, including a fairly strict bedtime. Our girls are still in by at 7:00 PM most nights, but lately I’ve realized we are at ages (6 and 3) that offer a little more flexibility. This week we did early bath and jammies (which should basically be my catch phrase) then watched The Polar Express (for the first time!) cuddled up on the couch. They didn’t get to sleep until almost 8:00 PM that night and you know what? It was fine! Routine is important to me, and getting enough sleep is something I believe strongly in, but I’m learning that relaxing for the occasional exception is pretty awesome too.
Unsubscribe from email lists. If you’re going to get an email from a company, it’s going to be during this holiday season! It’s a great time to take that one extra step and hit unsubscribe instead of delete. Or use Unroll.Me. I was blown away at how many lists I was on (187!!) and never knew.
Put your phone in another room for at least 1 hour a day. And make sure it’s a room far enough away that you can’t hear any of the notifications. My typical hour of choice is as soon as dinner is ready. I really don’t like having phones at the table and putting mine out of my reach takes away the temptation to check on something “just real quick.”
Get outside everyday. I don’t think I even realize how much more I’m indoors once the weather cools down. However, throwing on a hat and breathing the crisp air has an immediate positive effect on my demeanor. Even a walk to the mailbox clears my mind (bonus points if there are Christmas cards waiting for me).
Evaluate all your friendships/relationships. Which ones fill you up? Which ones drain you? Do they encourage and uplift you, or do they suck your energy and/or make you feel bad about yourself? Start evaluating your circles and figure out which relationships feel worthy of pouring your time and energy into.
Slow down. Exhaustion needs to stop being a status symbol and we don’t have say yes to every festive opportunity. Decide what is most special to you or perhaps have each member of your family pick the one holiday tradition that is most special and make those items you’re only “must-do’s” of the season. You may be surprised that eating popcorn and watching Elf is much more important than an elaborate gingerbread house. Shoving all the “fun” in can actually drain the season of its joy.
I hope you are enjoying this magical time of year!
What helps you slow down and enjoy when things are hectic?