By Stephanie Totty
Ah, the holidays. That special time of year where my stress level increases by at least 75%, all in the name of making the last two weeks of the year as “magical” as possible for my kids. And let’s be honest, it’s much harder these days with social media to feel like you’re getting everything done, or even doing “enough”. Pinterest is like a giant constant stream of guilt for me, and my Instagram account might as well be sponsored by that damn elf with the creepy face.
Getting the logistical stuff done (gift shopping, tree decorating, holiday cards) done along with the “memory-making” stuff (hot cocoa while we watch The Grinch, 15 dozen decorated cookies for ALL the people) is hard enough – but then you have all the normal things that haven’t stopped being important just because you’ve been sidetracked into working on the perfect deco mesh spray to go over your front door. Laundry, homework, dinner, and oh yeah, you have that whole “job” thing to worry about as well.
For most people, work doesn’t slow down in December – in fact, it just gets busier. Companies are trying to get organized for the next year, or cram in those last few sales to list on this year’s spread sheet … and by God that report MUST be done by December 23rd, regardless of what night your kid’s holiday pageant at school is. Also, let’s throw in a company potluck, as well as a company holiday party on a very inconvenient weekend night, which will force you to cancel a family event, and throw an ungodly amount of money at a college kid for babysitting services.
Are you stressed yet? I am. I’ve been a working mom since I became a mother, but as the years go on, I find it harder and harder to find a balance between these two roles: mom, and professional. As the kids get older they have more commitments with friends and school, and as I get older I have more commitments with them and with my job.
It’s a never-ending circle of stress, but here are a few things I’ve learned along the way to help with work life balance during the holidays:
Start planning early
I know this probably goes without saying, but get all your ducks in a row as early as possible. Start shopping early. Get your holiday cards out of the way early. Get the decorations down ASAP and make a list of what you’ll need this year. The more organized you are, the less likely you are to have a surprise event or expense pop up causing more stress.
Make OTHERS plan early
There is nothing more stressful than having all YOUR events planned out nicely, only to have work tell you only two weeks out when the company party will be … which happens to coincide with your in-law’s family get together. If you know an event will happen, bug people to get you the dates as far out in advance as humanly possible. The earlier I can have things on the calendar, the better.
List out the priorities
It’s really easy to let all the extra events and plans overwhelm you – make a list of events that are “musts” and label everything else as noise. Focus on those events that are most important and remember “quality over quantity” … you can’t do everything.
Don’t slack off at work
I don’t know about you guys, but it is REALLY easy for me to completely tune work out once the second week of December hits. Don’t be that employee (or boss) – make sure you’re still mentally present at work and get shit done – you’ll thank yourself come January.
Be okay with saying “no” – even to yourself
Make no mistake, this one is a REALLY hard rule for me to follow, but I find it’s the key to keeping my sanity. Not every Wednesday evening in December with my kids needs to be “magical”. Not every decoration has to be hung the first weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s okay to forgo the company cocktail hour. And yes, it’s completely okay to delegate projects to others at work.
The delicate balance between being a mom and being a professional is hard, even under normal circumstances – but the holidays (and everything that goes along with them) tend to make that balance even harder. Remember that you can still make this a magical time of year for your kids without going overboard, and to give yourself permission to say “no” – even if it’s to yourself.
Stephanie Totty (aka: Tottums) is a social media director, blogger, BoyMom, and self-proclaimed nerd. An enthusiast of all things digital, she revels in connecting with people through online communities and developing strong relationships. She enjoys writing, iPhoneography, and coffee. So much coffee. You can find whining on her blog, sharing on Facebook, and snapping on Instagram.
This article is part of our Holiday Hacks for Working Moms series. See the full #holidayhacks list for more ways to hack your holidays, so you can enjoy the season instead of letting it drag you down.
4 thoughts on “Work Life Balance During the Holidays”
I’m always asking for the date of the Christmas program in early October. Planning ahead is the key for us!
Planning has been key for me. I start holiday shopping in August, mostly for financial reasons (so that I don’t have a huge bill in December) but I found it’s helped pace the shopping frenzy.
I’m also okay with saying no, whether that’s no to buying gifts for everyone, no to buying that garland or wreath that would make our house extra special, no to the pressures of finding magical moments, etc.
I keep things very simple, and I don’t think my kids’ Christmas will be any less fantastic if I didn’t do otherwise.