I have to admit, I find it mildly ironic that I’ve decided to start Simply Living so close to the holidays, the very time of year when madness is considered conventional. One has to wonder how we’ve let the holidays, a time when our lives should be filled with love, happiness and good tidings, become charged with stress, anxiety and frustration. Arguably it speaks to our sensibilities as mothers and parents and our desire to create a little slice of magic for our children and extended families. But I think it also comes from a tendency to measure ourselves critically against a standard that is diluted with commercialism and impracticality. I freely admit I’m as guilty as the next person.
So here we are, on the cusp of another busy season filled with endless obligations and preparations. Parties, baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping, well, you get the picture. Already my blood pressure rises when I open my calendar and see the growing number of evening and weekend commitments. Last week I did an informal Facebook survey asking who uses lists to organize for Christmas. I was amused by how many responded that they make lists of their lists. The sentiment is, though humorous, I’m sure not far from the truth.
So I ask why? Why do we let the holidays take hold of our lives, causing sleep deprivation and exhaustion in mothers who are already beyond tired. In a world where there is so little we can actually control day to day, here is the perfect example of something that we truly can. There is no real reason to say yes to every invitation we get and to set a standard that is unhealthy to achieve. These pressures are fueled by unreasonable expectations that matter little if you consider the whole picture.
So here it is, my first goal in my quest to live simply : As the holidays loom and life becomes more frenetic than usual I will consicously recognize the value of my time and prioritize how I spend it. In fact, I won’t restrict this resolution to Christmas, I’m making it a whole life priority to protect weeknights and weekends as much as possible in favour of down-time, catching up, and for enjoying my family. Starting now, I’m choosing to put me and my family before outside social obligations more often. As much as I value time away to regenerate, I prefer unstructured and worry free time with my family to unwind.
Parenting is all about setting examples. As Carl Jung so aptly said: “If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” In this age of hyper-parenting and over-scheduling our children, I think there is a lot to be said for setting an example and placing value on quiet time, relaxing at home as a family.
And so I realize there is some merit to starting this project during the busiest time of year. I’m hoping that if I can pull it together and reduce stress in November and December, than I’ll have conquered an important hurdle.
Do you have any holiday traditions that you could let go of in favour of simplicity? How do you manage this time of year?Image: ‘Almost there‘ via a Creative Commons license.