On our 5:15 a.m. run, on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Jen and I were discussing our various holiday plans.
Jen’s event at her in-laws: 22 children, 6 siblings and their partners, the grandparents, and an assortment of pets. Pretty much your average Thanksgiving holiday, or you would think so, for as casually as she mentioned it.
“Wow.” I said, “What is that like?” My head spinning with the commotion of it, simply hearing about it; I think the house fills up and gets noisy when my two nephews and one niece arrive for the long weekend.
And, then Jen said the most PROFOUND thing: “I’ve always loved going, and I really began to enjoy it when I learned to start taking care of myself.”
Jen admitted in the early years of this family-togetherness-extravaganza she struggled a bit. This side of the family is a little more sedentary, preferring late night story-telling versus early morning exercise. Initially, she got caught in the “should” trap, thinking she should do as they do (stay up late) or that they should do what she does (exercise).
Once she let go of the “shoulds” and focused on doing what she needed to do for her health, her happiness and enjoyment increased immensely. Now, she goes to bed when she’s tired and wakes up early enough to get in a morning run. My guess is the stories are even funnier now that Jen is well-rested and rejuvenated with a quick, easy jog and some alone time.
Jason and I host Thanksgiving for my family: my sister and her husband and their three kids and my parents. There are nine of us in a house that is usually home to only two people. Like Jen, the secret to making a success of my family’s long weekend together – Wednesday through Saturday – is to make sure I don’t SHORT-CHANGE myself on SELF-CARE.
If you are like me, you may need short periods of solitude and quiet in order to thoroughly enjoy the rollicking busy times. I make sure I enjoy my morning coffee from the comfort of my bed during the first half-hour of the morning – I don’t care who is up, I pour my coffee and slip back to my room.
I encourage my clients to make time for a quiet walk or their daily meditation. No one is really going to notice if you slip away for 20 minutes to recharge with a nap.
At 6 p.m. on Thursday evening, I realized I was exhausted from managing the kitchen for the last two days. Jason quickly offered to be on clean-up duty. I put on my PJs and watched a chick-flick with “the girls” while “the guys” loaded the dishwasher and put away the dessert. I came up stairs two hours later in a much better mood and ready to play a game of Settlers of Catan.
It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to get done.
Drop the “Shoulds”:
The word “should” is such a source of unhappiness. In what situations are you using the word “should” and setting an unrealistic expectation for yourself and others? My own “should” to emerge from the weekend was how much time “should” the niece and nephews spend on electronic devices. Turns out I enjoy my niece and nephews so much more when I’m not busy tsking at them for their online time.
What “should” can you let go of so you can have more fun?
Jen and I clearly thrive on a daily quota of exercise – hence the early morning runs. And, I totally advocate outdoor time for any family group. At the very least, stand on the deck and breathe in a few gulps of fresh air. An easy stroll around the neighborhood is a good way to sort out thoughts and feelings and to move through emotions brought up during times of extended family togetherness.
Amazingly, the great outdoors provides an excellent, device-free environment for a good, meaningful chat.
I’d love to hear some of your tips and tricks for navigating a busy, family-filled holiday event. Please share so others can learn from you, too.
And, if you’d like some support in creating a peaceful, relaxed holiday environment for you, and the ones you love, please contact me. As always, I’d love to connect with you.