Combating Holiday Overload

Ellie helps me combat holiday overload by helping untangle garland & lights!
 Are you experiencing holiday overload this year? Not sure? Here's some of the symptoms:

- You know you should be happy and festive but instead you feel stressed, frustrated and run down.
- You feel like you have too many tasks to do and not enough time.
- You just want everything to be perfect or "just so" for your family's holiday.
- You'll relax once you get this gift wrapped. And that pie baked. And that phone call returned...

We're into the holiday season now and people are getting even busier than normal so this is a subject that's been on my mind a lot recently.

We have holiday cards to mail, presents to wrap, online sales to shop, and emails, text messages, phone calls, and voicemails to return, reply, and forward just about every day. (I find myself longing for the days when I used to open my inbox and have "no new messages.") We have bills to pay and endless amounts of chores to do - laundry that's never ending, dishes that pile up quickly, floors that need to be swept - even more so if we have family coming in for the holidays or parties we're hosting. Different foods and holiday treats need to be prepared. We have mail to sort, homework to do, a career to keep up with, things to read, crafts to finish, places to go, and people to see. You begin to feel like you can't ever get caught up with it all. You get frustrated, run down and exhausted.
On a daily basis we are inundated with information and sensory overload. Add to this our children, spouses and family members who need our attention and care, our households that need to be cared for, our jobs or businesses, and our own personal goals and aspirations...some days it just feels like way too much!

In the book 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way, the author Sarah Mae says this:  
"Everything is heading toward decay, and we are striving against it. No matter how many loads of laundry we do, there will always be dirty clothes. No matter how many times we clean the kitchen, for as long as we live it will get messy again. This is all part of the Curse. Work is not the Curse, unproductive work is."

As we continue to get further along in this holiday season {and in our lives at ANY point in time} we need to keep two things in mind:

1. We don't have to do everything. Our kids aren't going to be shattered if we don't do every Christmas-themed craft or activity we've seen our favorite bloggers post. We don't have to attend every holiday party. We don't have to make every DIY Christmas present we've pinned on Pinterest. You don't have to manage every single task of the annual Christmas program. It's not a requirement to make every single food item on your Christmas menu from scratch.
Let me say it again, we don't have to do it all. I'm horrible about telling people no and have ended up overexerting our family in certain ways this year so I'm making a concentrated effort NOW to not overdo it in these next two weeks. And as stated above, unproductive work is the bad thing, not work in general. Are we spending too much time on things that aren't helping us or encouraging us? We need to choose quality of activities and interests, not quantity.

2. Why are we doing this all again? What's our reason for what we do? For me personally, this season is all about faith and family - and if the things I'm doing aren't contributing helpfully to those two things, then perhaps they need to be reexamined. The reason for the season for me isn't about presents and food - although those are fun parts of it - it's about Jesus and the Christmas story. And as far as family goes, I want my kids to enjoy the season but I also want them to learn - to not get obsessed with presents & "the gimmes" but to instead focus on giving to others and helping those less fortunate. I don't want them to look back on our Christmas with blurred memories of hurriedly rushed events and crafts. I want them to remember the Christmas story, the midnight church service on Christmas Eve, special crafts and giving gifts from the heart to others.

I challenge you to reexamine your holiday plans and see what (if any) parts need to be trimmed back or perhaps what you can do to help your family focus on what's really important this season. :)

(The website Joyful Mothering is going to be doing a 31 Days to Clean Challenge in January which I will be joining in because I *LOVE* that book and because (as always) I need all the help I can get in cleaning! I definitely recommend the book and the challenge - it really helps you to understand the how's & why's of cleaning and how it isn't just boring old housework.)

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