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Four Ways to Energize Your Holiday Season: Special Tips for WAHMs (Work at Home Mothers)
By Susie Michelle Cortright

For many work-at-home moms, there's no such thing as time off. And that means we may need an extra energy infusion this holiday season.

Here are some tips to make sure you enjoy every last fa-la-la.

1. Rise and SHINE.

Greet each day in the right frame of mind. Here's one technique to help you do so. Inspired by Arnold Patent's "Ideal Day Exercise," this method is so empowering, you may find yourself skipping past the coffeepot.

As you lie in bed, summon the physical feeling that accompanies unabashed, unbridled joy. You know the feeling, though it's one you may have felt only a few times in your life. It's a feeling that's impossible to put into words, through I once heard it described as the urge to throw your shoes way, way up in the air, and I think that's fairly accurate. Seize that feeling. Experience that sense of joy fizzing inside you. Keep hold of it until you feel as though you're ready to pop. Then pop out of bed.

I follow this with a mantra or saying that I repeat, throughout the day, as a reminder to return to my center of joyful energy. My favorites: "What we focus on expands," "Joy to the world," and "This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Recite a rousing quote, a line from a song, an inspiring verse from your own religious faith, or make up your own saying.

2. Stay Centered.

Many WAHMs tell me they get requests to do all kinds of things during the day because they're "home." That means we have to pay special attention to how we structure our days and how much we take on.

An energetic and peaceful holiday season is possible only when you strive to live with integrity the whole year through. Right now, ask yourself: What do you value, above all else? What comes second? Third? How important is your spirituality, your family, your time for yourself, your profession?

After some thought and reflection, rank your top priorities on a Post-it-Note where you'll see it throughout the day. (Mine's on my computer monitor).

Use your list when asked to make commitments and compromises. If the request doesn't jibe with your list, you don't just have permission, you have an obligation to say no.

This list of priorities may set the course for new holiday traditions, as well. Perhaps you will donate toys, books, and food to charities. Perhaps you will help serve dinner at a homeless shelter instead of indulging in a huge holiday meal. Bringing joy to the world outside your own is one of the most energizing things you can do.

For a moment or two, indulge the ghost of Christmas Past. What memories immediately come forth that evoke a fond nostalgia? For me, it isn't the gifts or the shopping or even the parties. It's rocking my infant, alone, by candlelight, to "Silent Night." It's letting the 2-year-old crack the eggs for the cookies, and seeing the pride on her floury face.

Decide what the holidays are to you. Then make a plan to weave more of those activities into your holidays, and reduce the rest.

That's going to mean thinking ahead when accepting projects or deadlines during the holiday season. Budget (your time and your money) with these new guidelines in mind.

3. Deck the Halls with Light and Love.

Don't let commercialism spoil your fun.

Make the simple promise to yourself that, this year, you'll enjoy your holiday shopping. Brainstorm ways you can make this happen.

For me, the mall is a giant energy drain. The look of worried resignation as a shopper hands over her credit card tells me that she's shopping out of a sense of obligation and not one of joy. And it sours my holiday spirit.

Instead, I carve out an afternoon all to myself. I put on an Andrea Bocelli CD, sip Chai tea from a giant mug, and curl up with a fleece blanket to surf the Internet and page through catalogs. That's how I find just the right something for everyone on my very short list. When it ceases to be fun, I stop.

I so enjoy shopping this way that, throughout the year, I bookmark sites that offer just the right items.

If you find the materialism of the season draining your energy, commit to making an attitude shift. If you want things to be different this year, only you can make it so. Take the lead for your family, and live in such a way that you prove less stuff really does equal more fun.

Maybe you'll take the money you usually spend on one-too-many toys and enjoy, instead, a weekend family getaway. Maybe you'll make homemade goodies, such as picture frames, home movies, or goodie baskets, which the whole family helps to create.

Maybe you'll bag the traditional gift-giving and start a new tradition. In our family, it goes like this: Each guest brings a wrapped gift of roughly the same dollar value. We sit in a circle and each person, in turn, has the option of taking a gift that's already been opened or opening a new one. It's fun. It's festive. It gets everyone moving and talking, and it switches the focus to the relationships and the event...not the gifts.

One of the best ways to avoid commercialism is to simply turn off the TV and its advertisements for the newest plastic plaything. Return instead to the educational standbys...books, blocks, water, sand, and time with mom and dad.

Momscape humor columnist Linda Sharp once asked a group of kids to name one thing they'd like from their parents that wouldn't cost a dime. The answers: "Listen to me, please," "Teach me to cook," "Stop being so busy," "Hug me more," "Read to me..." Hard to wrap, but easy to give.

For WAHMs you are self-employed, there is often a push to make more money during the holiday season when there are more festivities and gifts to pay for. That means we have to work more just at a time when we wish we could get by with taking a week or two off. The solution: simplify. Then you can shop less, work less, and spend more time with your family.

4. Bring Tidings of Comfort and Joy...to Yourself.

This year, be realistic with your time and money. Start early, plan well, and take care of yourself. Here are some tips for doing just that:

- Simplify as much as possible. Eat out. Use paper plates. If a holiday tradition is old and tired, reinvigorate it or start a new tradition of staying at home. Plan ahead. To help, chances are, your favorite food website has a checklist for big holiday events.

- Replenish your natural energy by taking care of your body. Eat right. Exercise (in the crisp outdoors once in a while). Drink water. Sleep.

- Energize your image. Give yourself an early holiday gift or a great haircut, a brow shaping, a pedicure with bright red polish, or a free makeover at your favorite cosmetics counter and a purchase of the most vibrant lipstick shade you'll actually wear.

- Keep a "joy journal" this holiday season, in which you record the funny things your kids say, joyful times you share, your favorite things to do with your kids, your husband, and by yourself, and all the things for which you are grateful. Use your Joy Journal as a reminder of the facets of your life-and this holiday season-that are really important.

- Deck the halls with items of comfort and joy. Display photographs from past holiday celebrations. Keep in full view reminders that you take care of yourself...fresh flowers, indulgent hand crème, inspiring music, and energizing scents, such as citrus or peppermint.

- De-clutter. Here's an effective technique, created by the Flylady, who is committed to helping us all simplify and de-clutter. It's called the "27 Fling Boogie": Go through your home with a give-away box in hand and toss 27 items.

- Keep the romance alive. We all know about the prescription for a weekly date night. We also know how hard it is to make that a reality. Meanwhile, many married couples report that the simple act of kissing is the first part of intimacy to disappear. Schedule a 15-minute kissing date at least once a week, and marvel at its power to reinvigorate your relationship.

- Spend the season with your most energetic friends. Instead of letting the Scrooges in your life yank you down, send them something sweet from a Secret Santa. A little anonymous enchantment may be just what they need.

As you commit to keeping your spirit centered this holiday season, engage your kids in the process.

Recognize your children as the gifts they are. The gift to you as a mother, and your gift to the world. Strive to greet each day as though it were Christmas and await, with reverence, the surprises that your family will help you uncover. Today and every day.

Susie Michelle Cortright is the author of several books for women and founder of the award-winning Momscape.com, a website designed to help busy women find balance. Visit http://www.momscape.com today and get Susie's  course-by-email "6 Days to Less Stress" as well as the pdf ebook, "Spa Recipes for All Seasons."

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