Setting Boundaries | When “Yes” Should Be “No” This Holiday

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Why is it that as mothers, we secretly wish the holidays were spread out more or we could skip it all? Is it because we tend to bite off more that we can chew? There are only six weeks that separate Thanksgiving and the New Year and the amount that gets packed into those weeks … well, it’s a lot. As a people pleaser, I hate to disappoint, and have a tendency to always say yes. Chances are you’re reading my words and seeing a lot of those same qualities in yourself. They’re beautiful attributes but man do they make us work way harder during this season than we need to. This is why over the years I have had to learn how to say “no” to people (cue the gasp!).

Now that my kids are adults, I have gained some wisdom I’d like to share. Here are 3 things I have implemented to help keep the holiday season an enjoyable time instead of something that I secretly dread!

  1. You don’t have to have perfect Christmas cards. We all know what real life actually looks like the day you have booked for your Christmas card photos … The outfits you spent way too much money on – the kids aren’t interested in wearing them. The tantrums start and the tears well up in your eyes out of frustration, while your husband sits quietly knowing that this would. The sweet photographer you’re paying a fortune for, tells you all to look at each other lovingly, but in reality, you’re all a mess. Girl, you don’t have to do it! Take the pressure off and send a card using a candid photo from earlier in the year with the kids all smiles.
  2. Pick and choose which events you attend. Maybe you want to check out the Junior League of Waco Ladies Night at Deck the Halls or go see Waco Symphony Orchestras performance of The Nutcracker. Maybe you prefer to create your own glass blown ornament at Stanton Studios or take the kids to Wild Lights at Cameron Park Zoo. Do you really want to attend your office Christmas party or the Friendsgiving your neighbors are throwing? Be picky! Whatever is important to you, is where you should spend your time. I am telling you it’s okay to choose NOT to do it all. There have been years where not only was I scheduled to do something every weekend during October, November and December, but I even double booked us for things to be sure I didn’t miss out or disappoint anyone. You don’t owe anyone an explanation! Your mental health through the holidays is worth more than making an appearance somewhere. Trust me.
  3. Set boundaries and allow others to help. Driving hours to family just to share a meal and get back in the car … it’s miserable – especially with little kids. But we did it for years! We packed up the van and headed on a pilgrimage across the state to see both sides of our families. Once again, tears were shed and arguments were had – then I got smart. I began inviting everyone to MY house and set some boundaries. On Christmas morning, I had an “open house” from 10AM – 12PM. I had bagels, pastries and coffee. After that we had time to ourselves; we cleaned up and rested, then everyone came back for dinner. I asked everyone to bring their specialty dish; we always had everyone’s best. I didn’t have to prepare all of the food myself and it was something we looked forward to every year. It was much easier than traveling and it became a tradition.

Remember when you choose to say no to something, you are saying yes to something else – you are saying yes to the things that matter the most … your kids, your significant other, and most of all to yourself. Offer yourself some grace this year and make the one person happy that you so often forget … you.

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