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
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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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.