Thursday, December 1, 2011

Enjoying the Holidays Without Losing Your Mind

Hospitality is totally my thing; I love having people in my home for big gatherings and huge meals.  Naturally, when the Thanksgiving and Christmas season comes around, I am quick to jump at the opportunity of having many of these gatherings in my home or to help coordinate these gatherings in my extended family's homes.  This is my absolute favorite time of year!  It's a time for family to get together to enjoy meals, to play games, to have conversation, to relax, to be stressed out and to fight.

Wait ... what?!  To be stressed out?  To fight?

Unfortunately this has been known to be the case in the past.  Having people I so dearly love under one roof for an extended period of time has been known to cause stress and fighting.  Considering the fact that the holiday season is the very last place that I want to be fighting, my family came up with some ideas, and knowing how difficult it can be to make it through celebrating holidays with such a variety of personalities, I decided it is necessary for me to share two of them!

1.  Know your limits and make them known.

This is something that my extended family started last year.  While we love each other dearly, we are a group that tends to push each other's buttons a LOT (I'm talking heaping spoonfuls of A LOT here!).  Can I let you in on a secret?  I am one of those people who can only handle so much button pushing before I blow my top - and when it happens, it's extreme (I'm talking "Punch-my-older-brother-Tory-in-his-face" kind of extreme).  Knowing this about myself, and knowing how easily my buttons are pushed by my siblings, we came up with a code word that everybody would shout out when things were getting too tense.

Initially, I thought this was a really weird idea, but it truly has made our gatherings and celebrations MUCH less stressful because using that code word is an easy way to say "You're pushing my limits, please stop now!" without making a tense or awkward situation.

Much better than, oh I don't know ... punching Tory in his face (don't worry, I apologized and we made amends and everything is better [considering this happened two years ago], but I still feel bad about it!)!

So .. knowing your limits, it's a really good idea!

2.  Don't over-extend or over-commit yourself.

This is something that I'm known to be guilty of doing.  I am often known as a "Yes-(wo)man", someone who wants to say "YES!" to everything anybody asks of me.  This has always (not "sometimes" and not "often", but truly always) caused a lot of stress in my life.  I love to attend gatherings and prepare desserts for dinners and host fancy parties - but I'm not able to do everything that I would like to do (especially during the holidays) and need to be able to know when to say 'No'!  

With five kids in our home, it's not uncommon for me to have to schedule something a month or farther in advance - our schedule is already pretty crazy!  Add on top of that all the different activities and parties going on during the holidays and you could lose your mind trying to get to everything.  My rule of thumb for holiday gatherings and even things so simple as attending my MOPS meeting or going to a playdate, is to not book more than two events in one week.  I know my limits and I know when the responsibility of managing a household and managing my social life need to be re-prioritized.  Planning only two events during the week leaves me the flexibility to add things at my will.  When I have more than two things on my schedule, I find that I wear myself thin and end up cancelling commitments because I am too worn out to attend.

I love flexibility in my schedule, but in order to maintain that flexibility I need to have some structure, and not over-extending or over-committing myself provides that!

Do you want some more suggestions and ideas to help you maintain that happy demeanor and joyful spirit during the holidays?  Visit this post on BlogHer and get some of those awesome ideas rolling!

That's not all!  BlogHer is hosting a $250 giveaway that you can enter here!  I think we all could use some extra cash during the Christmas season, so hurry over and enter the sweepstakes!

Hopefully these tips will help you out as you are going through this season of celebration!

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