Do you feel the pull of the holiday season calling you to speed up and fill up even more? There is a buzz around the holidays that some of us love, while others dread. If you are already feeling burned out with balancing life and work, then adding more on your to-do list is the last thing you want to do. But you feel this pressure both inside and outside of you to make the holidays memorable for your kids. To take them to do every fun tradition you can find and get them every gift under the tree that you never had.
Responding to all this pressure whether it’s retail marketing ads, posts you see on your social media page, or the internal nagging, can overwhelm even the calmest parent. What if during the holidays, we focused less on doing and more on being? And what if we focused not only on what others desire but also on what we need as busy parents during the holiday season? Imagine starting off the new year with more energy instead of less.
Parental Burnout is Real
We only have so much energy to use and give in any given day, but most of us push well beyond what is sustainable. Trying to get just one more thing done before we crash onto our beds at the end of the day. It’s become almost a badge of honor to share how busy we are, even though we can feel it eating away at some of our personal goals and desires.
If you are giving more than you are receiving, then you are at risk for burnout. Giving from a place of depletion can leave you feeling disconnected and resentful. If you aren’t reserving any energy for yourself or your own needs, you will become very exhausted. And that may lead to burnout where you aren’t just tired, but also feeling unproductive and like you want to retreat.
Burnout is a signal that something is out of balance and an invitation to do these differently, both for yourself and for others. It can take time to recover from burnout, so let’s focus on a time when most people tend to drain themselves more…the holidays.
Holiday Visioning Exercise for Preventing Burnout
In order to move toward more energy and less parental burnout, you will need to tap into what you most want your holiday season to look like this year. So grab a pen, paper, and colored writing utensils (if you have them nearby). Resist the inner critic’s voice telling you that you don’t have time for this. Instead, create some space either now or within the next 24 hours to go through this exercise, so that you don’t get to the end of the year more depleted then you feel right now.
- Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine what you want to feel and be like by the end of this December.
- Open your eyes, and make three columns on your paper with the following headings: Self, Values, & Holiday Tasks
- Under the “Self” column, write down all the words that describe how you want to be and feel by end of this year. (For example, some common desires are wanting to feel nourished, connected, rested, etc.)
- And under the “Values” column, list all the things you most value and appreciate about the holiday season. (For example, some common values are family, fun, spirituality, etc.)
- Next, under “Holiday Tasks”, write down all the tasks and events that you think you “could and should do” for the holidays.
- Now circle which of the “should” tasks and events you “want” to do this year.
- Then put a star next to any of the circled items that align with your vision for yourself and what you value most about the holidays. (Try to narrow down to the top 3-5 things that are most important to you.)
- Lastly, put a line through the items on the holiday task list that you are letting go of this year.
- Pause and thank yourself for creating the space to focus on what matters most to you.
Any time you find yourself feeling frustrated, stressed and overwhelmed by the holidays, pull this paper out. Remind yourself what you are saying no to when invitations, inner critics, and ads arrive. Hopefully, your holiday to-do list has gotten smaller and you will be focusing on what matters most to you without sacrificing your well-being and sanity in the process. And maybe you even add a few things that you want to do that will bring you more joy and nourishment.
If you’d like a space to help you tune into what you need, consider counseling for mom burnout. Marci Payne is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Greater Kansas City area and works with stressed-out Missouri parents (men and women) both online and in her office in Independence MO. I help you identify what drives you to burn yourself out, what choices you are ready to make, and how to go beyond self-care to really practice loving yourself more so you can be there for what matters most to you. Schedule free 15-minute phone consult with Marci to decide if this is one of the steps you need to take.