We all love the holidays. The traditions. The food. The giving. Time to slow down and enjoy one another...except that rarely happens until the holiday is actually here and over. The lead up always seems to be quite the production. I try to convince myself that that is part of the fun and it is...until it’s not. So this year, or this week at least, I'm finding some balance by doing these 3 simple things.
Turning off my phone. Now I know this isn’t totally realistic, but set aside some time each day where your phone is out of sight and out of reach. Mine is usually between 2:30-5:30. At first I thought that this wouldn’t work for me, with real estate transactions always in play, and there are times when it doesn’t, but for the most part, it does. Believe it or not, no one actually dies if they can’t reach me for an hour and a deal has never fallen apart because of it either. Shocker.
Once you put your phone away, you’ll realize how much time you spend checking it. It’s a waste of so.much.time. and brain power. Not only that, when you’re not constantly seeing someone else’s elaborate Christmas vacation or over-the-top-tree or holiday family picture, you’re able to enjoy your own space so much more. For the record: all those people’s Christmas’ and family life look more similar to yours than you realize.
Trim the fat. We all have too many things on our to-do lists. Go ahead and give yourself permission to take two...or a dozen off that list. I’m sure they are all great and wonderful things, until you’re up all night trying to get them all done, yelling at your kids to ‘hurry up and help’. Perhaps my house is the only house that can get a touch too hectic and then we’ve really missed the point all together.
Don’t have time for neighbor gifts? Stop doing them. Really. You’re neighbors are not keeping track of who is knocking on their door and dropping treats (if they are, that’s their own issue :)). They’ll still be your neighbors and if you really can’t handle the guilt of skipping neighbor gifts, just move your gift to Valentine’s Day and make that your thing. We all have too many neighbor gifts sitting on our counters anyway.
Keep your wrappings simple. In all honesty, I love a beautifully wrapped gift & even better when it all coordinates with my tree. It’s probably more important to me than it should be so I try to get ahead of the game. Even still, every year I’m up until all hours on Christmas Eve. With a new baby, I know I can’t handle that this year. So I’m simplifying. I ordered these boxes on amazon — because I get tired of gift bags and I’m using a whole lot of bakers twine instead of ribbon. I have yet to hear any of my kids complain about the wrappings, I know this is my own personal thing I love, but this year, I'm scaling back.
On the flip side, I hope to gain a few more quiet moments -- I know my real challenge will be to not fill up any free time I've created with more stuff. Instead, hopefully I'll get in a few games of HORSE on the new basketball hoop, that was delivered 2 weeks prior to Christmas. How's that for a Christmas surprise. ha!
Home is where the happy happens & while it's taken me a bit to figure out just how to create that, I think I'm getting there. Maybe the fact that I think I can control it & that it can actually happen is half the battle. Don't get me wrong, I have good days & bad days, just like everyone else, but I thoroughly dissect my good days in an effort to have more good days. A few tricks to making more happy happen in your home.
1. In the wise words of Tommy Boy, 'harness the good, block out the bad.' I can't even quite remember what Tommy Boy was referencing here, but it applies to creating home. When you find a good moment, recognize it, then tuck it away in your mind to review. This review process usually happens as I'm laying my head down to sleep. Ask yourself, What made it good? What made it memorable? Why did you notice it? What happened just before that?
Once you've identified some of those things work towards to re-creating them so that they happen more often. Was it music playing? Windows open? A good meal? Those are the good things you want to harness & then leverage. Make them the habits of your home, as you do, your family will follow suit & make it easier & easier for those good moments to happen spontaneously without so much effort on your part.
As for the bad, well there will be bad. There will be door slamming & feet stomping & tears before bed. Along with leaky faucets & dying shrubs & a garage that needs organzing...but somehow just knowing that there will be bad, makes it easier to accept. Don't be surprised when it happens & don't let it torpedo your spirits. It's normal & it's okay. Deal with it as best you can & then move on. Take a day if you need to & then start again...back to the good if you can!
2. Live within your means. My husband loves when I preach this because he's naturally the saver & shocker, I'm naturally the spender. But he's right & I'm grateful he always draws a hard line on this issue. It's hard to enjoy a home you can't actually afford. Looming behind, over & around you is always the collector & it makes life stressful and miserable. It doesn't matter how much or how little you can afford, live within those means & you'll be happier.
The hardest part is learning to be content, but you can learn it. When a case of the comparisons start sneaking in my favorite way to get back to content is to start listing everything I'm grateful for. My dad taught me how to do this & it usually doesn't take too long. Let's see, I live in America, statistically I'm already better off than the majority of the population & in the winter time I follow that with I live in Arizona...now I'm in the top percentile! ;)
3. Allow for soft landings. Ever been on a airplane & had a rough landing...it's uncomfortable & a little scary. I like home to always be a place to land softly...for everyone. As a work-from-home mom I'm the commander in chief of soft landings. I know everyone's schedules & therefore, can usually prep a soft landing. When my kids are coming home from school, I try to have it be a 'no work time.' I'll step away from my computer, ignore my phone & just be available to them. Often times, I'll have some music on & the house relatively picked up. This allows for my focus to be on them for at least 15 minutes to get the ins & outs of their days. I've found if I pay attention at the transitions, everything else goes a bit smoother.
Now don't get me wrong, some days we are rushing & some days I'm up to my eyeballs in work, in those cases I have to ask them to allow a soft landing for me and most times they are up to the challenge.
I'm sure there are a million and one other ways capture the happy & I'd love to hear your approach so I can grow a little more happy...because once you get a taste of the happy, you definitely want more.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.