Managing it all around the holidays!
Work. Being a wife. Raising our children. Hosting Thanksgiving for 20+ people. Coordinating pictures for a Christmas card. Actually ordering and sending out the Christmas cards. Buying Christmas presents. Cleaning the house. Prepping food. You name it, it feels like we are trying to juggle the world as the holidays (quickly!) approach. It’s exhausting. The list itself is so daunting I don’t even want to start it. Why? Because, as women, we often feel as if every one of these tasks falls on our shoulders. I’m here to tell you that if we want to see change in the world (especially in the home life), then we need to be a part of that change. As you head into the holidays, take a few of these tips into consideration:
I listed above a tiny sliver of what might need to get done around the holidays. When my husband and I host, I have a discussion with him beforehand. Why? Because we are hosting, not just me. He married into my family and I married into his, so it doesn’t matter whose family is coming over. If I don’t get the help that I need then I know that I mentally can’t handle the stress of hosting the Holidays at our house in the future. So here is what a conversation could look like with my spouse:
“Danny, if we are going to host Christmas this year, here is a list of what I need done in order to feel comfortable with this and not have anxiety about so many people coming into our home. I can’t do it alone, so I’d like to talk about who is tackling which tasks and by when they need to get done.” Then I show him the list and we split it up line by line. I tell him what my expectations are (quality and timing) and then let it be. We hang it on the fridge and cross things off as they are completed. We review the remaining items a few days before our families arrive and make time to ensure each of us has time to get what we need done.
2. Don’t micromanage
I can’t tell you how many times I tried to tell my husband how to be a better dad when we first brought our son home from the hospital (without actually using those words). I desperately wanted to do everything perfectly, because I just wanted to be the perfect mom. I was so worried about being judged by others that I often found myself standing over my husband's shoulder and dictating to him how he could do everything better.
I failed to realize throughout those first few weeks that perfect looks different for every family because every baby has a different set of needs and, to be frank, there is no such thing as perfect. When I stand over my husband's shoulder I am just causing more stress on our relationship instead of enjoying the new moments as a family. If I were to go to work everyday and have someone stand over my shoulder constantly informing me what a sub-par employee I was, I would be unmotivated as well.
So when we talk about the holidays and ensuring certain tasks get done, it’s important that we remember there is no such thing as perfect. Don’t stand over your spouse’s shoulder telling them where they missed the dirt. If you want them to help you and you have set your expectations with them, then you have to be ok with their version of how things get done. Remember: just because they do things differently, doesn’t mean it is wrong. (For most of you, this directly applies to how a dishwasher is loaded, a bed is made or towels are folded ;) ).
3. Remind yourself it’s ok if things don’t get done
If you are standing around last minute and you realize you have 14 piles of laundry all over the laundry room floor, my advice to you is to close the door and leave it be. Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and, if laundry doesn’t bring you joy, then keep it out of sight and out of your mind. If you are in a time crunch at the last minute then take a deep breath and review your list - What are you ok with not getting done? Then remove those items. And then tell yourself: “It’s ok if my floors don’t get washed. Kids are dirt balls and they are going to destroy them with their crumbs anyways. I’ll wash them once everyone leaves.” And then be ok with it. Because it will be ok.
4. Don't take the criticism
I have a good friend that I go to when I am angry about certain topics, especially when it comes to my kids or even addressing family members. She approaches frustrating topics in a much healthier way than I normally would. In an effort to model her healthy behavior, I will vent to her, she tells me how she would handle it, and then I tweak it to ensure it feels natural to me (I keep telling her to start a blog, hoping one day I can convince her ;)).
Something she said recently really resonated with me. She told me that when her family members or in-laws criticize something about her children or her home then she says something like, “Being a mom and wife is really hard work. I had a huge list of things that I wanted to get done for this Thanksgiving and I wasn’t able to complete it all. I’m just trying the best that I can.”
Think about that for a moment and imagine you were receiving that comment. Imagine how much nicer that comes across than if you said, “Well if Jack’s mom would have taught him how to wash floors or do laundry then maybe I would have a clean house right now. But I don’t have that luxury because he doesn’t help.”. I guarantee you the former comment is a lot more humbling and will add much less fuel to the fire than if you take a stab at your mother-in-law.
Wherever you are this holiday season, please remember to be kind. Everyone is doing their best. If you are like me and need a certain level of cleanliness to host, then remember to solicit help from your family members. You are not in this alone. It shouldn’t matter if the bathroom is spotless or the floors are so clean you could eat off of them. What matters is spending time with loved ones because our time here on this earth is so precious.