The holiday season is notorious for inciting panic in women and if they don’t know how to deal with that shoulder-burdening aspect of this time of year, they’re destined to miss what the holidays are really all about…PEACE, JOY, HARMONY. We need free time to re-charge.
Last year at this time I appeared on a local television talk show in Portland, Oregon, to talk about the free day I have in my weekly plan. To bring up this topic, this time of year when most women who work outside their homes can barely find a free hour let alone a free day each week, seemed absurd!
If you'd like to watch that segment, just click on my little Christmas girl. She's my granddaughter Brooklyn who is now a freshman at Berkeley.
Today it seems we women are more concerned about recharging our cell phones than about recharging ourselves. If you don’t take time for yourself, you’ll end up being an old lady who looks in the mirror one day and says, “Who are you?” You won’t know what you love and you’ll regret not giving yourself time to just be you and do what you want to do without an agenda, without a “To Do” list of stuff to do for everyone else.
So when I got on the show and talked about all there is to do as a wife and mother, plus working full time and taking care of 80% of the work involved in running a happy household, she couldn't have agreed more. Then I talked about all the extra things we do for our families to make this time of year festive and fun and how we can eek out some free time even though it’s the busiest time of the year.
A few days before I went on the show, I had my semi-annual dental check-up, so I asked the hygienist if she has a free day. She looked at me as though I’d ask her if she has five breasts! Then she said, “I had this discussion with my husband a couple of months ago. I told him I either needed to cut back my hours at work (which would mean less money for us) or he needed to pitch in and help. He’s a longshoreman and gets paid for full-time but often works half-time. He didn’t like either option, but he said he’d try and help more. I gave him a month to see if he actually would help more. When he didn’t, I cut back to only three days a week instead of five and it has really helped me! Now I get a break from work in the middle of the week so I can clean and keep up the laundry and I can enjoy my weekends with the family instead of catching up all that gets behind.
She went on to say she has one of those deals you strap to yourself that counts your steps and she averages 20,000 steps a day. I told her she should strap it to her husband to see how many steps he clocks. Her eyes got huge and she said, “I wanted to do just that, but he wouldn’t let me! He knows he’d probably clock about 2,000 steps!
When my dentist came in I asked him if he feels the pressure of the holiday season. Instantly he said, “Oh yeah! My patients want to use up all their dental insurance before the end of the year, and college students come home and want to get dental work done while they’re home. Then I said, “No I mean the pressure from all the holiday activities like writing Christmas cards and sending them, shopping, decorating, baking, gift wrapping and mailing packages in time for Christmas and entertaining?” He thought for a minute and responded, “Oh, right, well yeah, I have to get up in the attic and get all the boxes down for my wife. Oh and I put the tree in the stand and put the angel on the top.”
Well now, isn’t that so special?
There are two things you need to do if you want free time during the holidays.
1) Learn to delegate and give up control of having things exactly the way you want them. 2) Be willing to eliminate activities that aren’t fun. For example, I quite writing and sending Christmas cards at least 20 years ago. Instead, every card I receive goes on a “calling” list. Since I love to talk on the phone I take time to sit and call each one.
That’s it! Delegate and eliminate.