In early December I wrote a blog about making sure we don't forget about ourselves this time of year and a recent video I saw by Paloma Faith really brought the message home to me. While the festive season is not over I think I have successfully managed to navigate the seasonal #motherload, without getting sick once, a major achievement for me. I really wanted to share how I've made it work.
As I mentioned in early December I made an active decision over 2018 to replace a focus on perfectionism with prioritization. This meant that in late October I sat down with my family to discuss the upcoming seasonal #motherload, which start in our household at the end of November with my son's birthday. At the meeting we had a large calendar print out of November and December and went through all the commitments, obligations and expectations that everyone had for the festive period. The calendar included ideas for my two winter borne children's birthday parties, where we were going to have Christmas day (no long family trips was agreed), how we were going to fit in a fortieth birthday party for me as well as the fact that I needed to run two end of year kids parties (at work and at my community centre) while also volunteering at the school frost fair. We also talked about present ideas (birthday and Christmas) and who was responsible for buying which presents.
By starting the process early I was able to make it really clear to my family just how much I had going on in addition to my work and taking care of them more generally. It also made it clear to to my kids and boyfriend what was my #motherload and what was the responsibility of the rest of the family to sort out.
By planning ahead for the things I knew were coming meant that when the onslaught of end of year dance shows (three separate December performances), sailing competitions, music recitals and festive school plays came through over early December I was able to bring the family together to discuss expectations and availability. I made it clear I couldn't attend everything and got the kids to prioritize what they wanted me to go to and then outsourced the remaining events, as much as possible, to uncles and my ex-husband. Of course my kids wanted me to go to everything but by keeping them in the loop from a really early stage they knew I wasn't coming because I didn't care.
To top off December we have had a major restructure at work (I think we all know what that means) and for me specifically it meant a new boss and team, right in the middle of the December overwhelm. To add to the already crazy time of year my kids were off sick for at least six days over December with the usual festive colds and flu.This is usually where I would tip into hyper busy, start doing everything myself as a coping mechanism and end of sick and in bed.
But this time I knew I wanted things to be different so I had to really dig deep and focus on a commitment I made to myself over 2018 to replace busyness with compassion. I looked at everything I needed to do and checked them off against my values. I outsourced as much as I could and anything that was not an act of self-care of self-fulfillment or would have a similar impact to those in my closest circle, I just ignored. This meant no gifts for the teachers, a messier than normal flat, ready meals on occasion and saying no to anyone who wanted my time simply to meet their needs. It also meant that for the past two weeks I've not been able to work on my blog or even glance at twitter. Everyone in the family has made sacrifices but overall we've been an incredibly happy with very few arguments.
Today is my daughter's birthday and as I sit here waiting for her and her brother to return from their father's house I realize that by planning early, using my values to prioritizing what's import and most importantly learning to be selfish I have been able to successfully manage the December overwhelm. As I look to Christmas day, which I have managed to outsource to my brother, I am really looking forward to finally relaxing knowing that next year I need to make sure I plan more self-care for myself over December.
All opinions are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.