Going into this holiday season, my husband got a new job. A wonderful, new job that will allow for a better work-life balance; & exciting opportunities for him now & in the future. However, this also meant that he would need to be away from home for two straight weeks at the beginning of December. Two straight weeks where I would be parenting two small boys by myself while trying to keep up with freelance work & all of the usual day to day tasks involved in raising a family.
This allowed me to re-evaluate my holiday expectations. It allowed me to take a step back & think about what I could reasonably accomplish, & also what we would genuinely enjoy. After these considerations, here are the things that I have decided to cut back on this holiday season, & as we approach the halfway point of December, I am so happy with my decisions…
I didn’t realize how much effort I was putting into holiday cards every year until I decided not to do them. While I enjoy creating our Christmas cards, sending them out, & having them as a keepsake, it is a lot of work. Plain & simple. Deciding not to do cards meant that I didn’t have to buy coordinating outfits for everyone, try to keep them unstained, plan a time to get a family picture, fight the boys who do NOT want to get their picture taken, edit the picture, find a cute card template or create my own, find a good deal to get the cards printed, buy envelopes, buy stamps, figure out who to send cards to, make sure addresses are up to date, put everything together & mail them out in time, & remember to give other people their cards when I see them. Simply not doing Christmas cards saved me a ton of time, energy, & brainpower this year — something that I definitely need to be conserving.
Minimal Holiday Decor
We have a tree up & decorated, & we have some lights outside. Those are the two main elements that make it feel like Christmas in our household, & those were two things I made sure to do with my husband before he left for training. Other than that, we didn’t dig out other holiday decor! We don’t have a ton of space for extra stuff, & I didn’t feel like swapping out regular decor for Christmas decor, just to switch it back in a month. I love homes that have beautiful holiday decor, & I’m sure I will do more with it someday; but this year is simply not the year.
Very Few Holiday Parties
There have been years where we have attended & hosted multiple holiday parties. Friend parties, family parties, work parties, & community parties. All of these festivities were fun, but we were all burned out by the time we got to Christmas day. This year I have been saying, “no” to most invites, & the activities that I’ve said, “yes” to have been tentative answers. Parties sound fun until you think through all that is usually required — bring food, bring gifts, what to wear, do we need a sitter, etc, etc. Instead, we are doing a few holiday activities that bring the whole family joy, & then prioritizing time together instead of a whirlwind schedule.
Lots of Online Shopping
I have done the majority of my shopping online this year. Taking two little boys to a crowded mall is just a painful & frustrating experience for everyone. Shopping online makes my life so much easier, & the few things that I plan to get at local stores, I will go shop for on my own & plan for it to be a fun experience for myself rather than something I have to get through. I really don’t know how moms did it all before the internet existed… shopping from my phone is my favorite way to shop!
No Extra Projects
“Touch base with me again after the holidays, & we can discuss this project further.” This has been a lot of my communication throughout November & December to clients & prospective clients. As a freelancer, it is hard to say, “No” to new projects & exciting opportunities; but I knew going into this holiday season that I needed to cut back & avoid taking on too much work. I knew that my boys would need me, & I knew that I would have to take care of myself so that I wouldn’t burn out. The reality is that many people are happy to pick up the discussion, project, partnership after the holidays because it is a crazy time for everyone! I am learning to be very aware of how much I can take on without it being detrimental to my own health & the well-being of my family.
What I am learning through this simplifying process is how important it is to think through each task & responsibility (no matter how small it seems). It is important to take inventory & evaluate on a regular basis to figure out what is working, what is making us happy, what is wearing us out. I am learning that most people don’t mind or don’t even notice when you cut back on activities, & that what you gain in return is often much greater than what you are giving up.
Do the things that you love & leave out the rest.
Originally published at medium.com