Combatting Holiday Busynessby WFP Admin added on 8 October 2019, Comments Off on Combatting Holiday Busyness , posted in Blog
By Whitney Connors, Toddler PM Coordinator
Here it is! Another fall filled with mixed emotions. Although I welcome our routine back, the fall also comes with the daunting beginning of holiday season for my family and the many traditions that come along with it. It is this time every year, that, before anything even begins, I just feel busy.
I read an article years ago that explained the complicated cycle of the “busy” mindset. It turns out, it wasn’t complicated at all. It’s simply a mindset that needs readjusting. Busy implies stressed, overworked, burnt out, and distracted. When you tell everyone that you are “so busy,” then you will continue to feel all the implications of that.
Psychology Today says that “Busyness is a socially acceptable excuse. Just say ‘I’m busy,’ and people will forgive you for not doing something. Feeling distracted or irritated? Blame it on being ‘very busy.’ Moreover, when you can’t find time for yourself, use the same excuse: ‘I am crazy busy’. That’s how we end up lying to everyone (ourselves included).”
The article I read long ago said to simply change the word; describe your life as full.
I mulled this over back then, and it made sense to me. My life was full. I had a beautiful new daughter, a loving family, a career I was passionate about; yeah, my life was full! But then the holidays came. I immediately switched back to busy and just as immediately, my new calm, satisfied, happy attitude about life disappeared. I had no time to be calm, satisfied and happy… the holidays were coming!
Are Holiday Traditions Worth It?
So, I started to question whether all of these traditions were worth it, or were they just causing busyness?
I looked back at my own family growing up. Everyone called us a clan. It wasn’t just because there were A LOT of us; it was because we were so close. How did we get that close? You got it… traditions.
We had traditions big and small, weekly and annually. Our Christmas morning was a huge bash with my mom’s side of the family. My mom tried for a traditional Thanksgiving, but we kids eventually turned it into a very thankful taco night. On Valentine’s Day and our birthdays, we would wake up to a card and treat at our spot at the breakfast table. As we grew up, moved out and got married, we started Sunday night family nights. None of these traditions were magazine perfection, some were a real mess, but they all were perfect for us, and overall purposeful. They created a family bond.
What were your family traditions like growing up? Did they serve a purpose for your family? What do you want to have the same in your family, what do you want to have different?
The Value of Traditions in Early Childhood
Traditions create a family bond; they should not increase our anxiety or busyness. Plus, there are so many benefits of traditions for the developing child. We all know that children thrive in routine, so we have bedtime rituals or dinner rituals, but this idea of routine goes beyond the day to day life and into the entire year! Having an annual family reunion or trip is just as routine to a child as taking a bath before bed, it just takes more patience.
The benefits of traditions go beyond the child’s mental calmness that’s derived from routine and extends into generational bonding, family bonding and your child’s identity formation. Creative Child says that “They strengthen our bond as a family unit. They create structure, stability, a sense of familiarity and safety, all things that are important for children, particularly young children. Traditions help us to nourish one another”.
The article goes on to state that “If you grow up in a family with strong rituals, you’re more likely to be resilient as an adult” according to Dr. Steven Wolin, a psychiatrist at the George Washington University. It is interesting to me that with so many mental and emotional benefits, somehow, we have managed to turn some traditions into exhausting busyness.
Other Ways to Create Traditions
As I took a step back, I realized that my family has plenty of traditions surrounding holidays, celebrating and bonding with the different generations, but holidays don’t have to be the only reason to have a tradition. I started brainstorming both on the daily and yearly options for traditions. When I looked it up, there were an infinite amount of traditions! My favorite was from fatherly.com: “Give your kids duct tape on their 13th birthday, duct tape is very useful stuff. By the time your kid is on their own, they should know this.” This gave me a good laugh, but it wasn’t really my style.
I kept looking and found things like give thanks every day, plan a ditch day, play a yearly family yard game, have a weekly take out night, give kids your spare change, plan a game night, bake a generational dish, volunteer together, etc.
There were so many great options, but it comes down to what is meaningful for your own particular family. My husband and I decided we wanted 4 categories: thanking, giving, relaxing and challenging.
When we put the children to bed every night, we all go through our day and thank each other. We call it “Thank you for our day”, not a creative name, but my daughter now cannot go to bed without being thankful!
For giving, we decided to make food and serve it to homeless teenagers once per quarter throughout the year.
Our challenging tradition is to go on a family camping trip every year. For some people, this may be in the relaxing category… we are not those people. We invite my in-laws, which only makes the experience more meaningful for the children to have grandpa and grandma there.
And lastly, my favorite one, relaxing: we now do an annual trip, just our family, to Leavenworth every year. We live a very active, full life, so we make sure to take our Leavenworth trip, just the four of us. For months after each trip, my daughter plays “Leavenworth,” which just proves what a special experience it is for her.
So, there you have it! In order to combat the “busy” feeling and make things more meaningful, I added more to our calendar and daily routine! It makes no sense, but it truly does make our lives feel more full and less busy!
Purpose Over Perfection
So why did I let the holidays stress me out? For me, it is because I feel the pressure to participate in everything and make it all perfect. I just need to remind myself of the purpose of these traditions for my own family now, and the purpose isn’t perfection or doing everything; it is to create a special bond that will hopefully last long after my husband and I are gone!
It comes down to a simple message, take a step back from busyness to create lasting traditions with your family; be full.