Whether you and your family celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, or any other cultural and religious traditions, the holiday season is here. As moms, we often expend lots of energy and considerable time creating holiday magic for our children, but at what cost? Too much merry making can lead to overeating and excessive drinking. We blow the budget buying gifts for our children, family, and friends. We stress ourselves trying to create an elaborate holiday menu and then dealing with the dreaded clean up after everyone leaves. Or perhaps we do too much as we adorn our home with pumpkins, turkeys, and grand cornucopias for Thanksgiving followed by snowflakes, iridescent and glittering ornaments, and holiday lights for Christmas and the New Year. We neglect our physical and mental health, too. Sprinkle in a global pandemic, and the regular exhaustion increases exponentially.
So, my gift to you this holiday season of 2020 is REST. Yep – good ole’ fashioned REST. We don’t get enough of it and often overlook it as we burn the proverbial candle at both ends. And if any year is going to require REST, it’s 2020. Many of our regular holiday traditions have been or will be heavily modified, or scrapped altogether, as we do our best to remain healthy and safe and keep our loved ones healthy and safe.
Here’s what REST looks like:
It’s time for a do over. Even if your usual go-to is busy, busy, busy Mama, you can interrupt the status quo and replace it with a reset. Establish new holiday traditions. Instead of buying gifts, plan to make gifts for loved ones and wrap them in furoshiki, Japanese traditional wrapping clothes crafted from vibrantly colored fabrics. Have a socially distanced cookie decorating party. Set a budget and honor it this year. Or maybe have a holiday staycation complete with holiday music and movies and matching pajamas just for those who live in your home, and forego traveling altogether.
Breathe. Yes, Mom, just breathe. Deep breathing exercises are a fantastic way to manage stress and overwhelm. Breathing exercises relax the body and calm the mind. Belly breathing is an easy method to learn. Simply place one hand on your belly below your ribs and the other hand on your chest. Then breathe in deeply through your nose followed by expiration through pursed lips as you push your belly outwards. Practice it now for three cycles and experience the calm.
Sleep is elusive for so many mamas. According to a blog post on Live Science, for women ages 45 and below, having children in the home is the only factor that impacts sleep. This article also notes that less than half of women in this age group reported getting the recommended 7+ hours of nightly sleep. Furthermore, each child increases the risk of poor sleep by 46%. Clearly, the odds are stacked against us, Moms! Do your best to go get restful sleep every night. Establish a bedtime routine. That means pick a consistent bed time, no caffeine, no exercise close to sleepy time, and find ways to wind down such as relaxing ocean or rain sounds and a nice bath if you can fit it in. And, by all means, put those babies to bed.
Treasure all the moments, all the feels — the harried and the languid, the celebratory and the arduous, the beautiful and the painful. Time quietly slips through our fingers unless we intentionally chose to remain in the present; for the present is a gift. Imprint these moments with our children upon our hearts.
Everything you are doing, Mama, no matter how you see it, is magical to your children. You are enough for them — perfectly imperfect. So, whatever you decide to do for this holiday season and the remainder of 2020, please REST, Mama. Reset. Exhale. Sleep. Treasure. I know it won’t be easy as we mamas know how to grind, but it will definitely be worth it.