Well, friends, tomorrow it’s November.
Just because of how our daughters’ school/sports/fine arts schedules go, I feel like once we hit the first week of October, it might as well be January 5th. The last three months of the year just fly by for us. Besides our girls’ extracurricular activities, there’s all that goes along with Thanksgiving, celebrating both of their birthdays, Christmas, and New Years – and this year, we’re throwing a college visit into the mix, too!
I love the family time and the special events that happen over these next two months. But from previous years’ experience, I know what this season can be like and want to be ready for it. These tips aren’t new, but it helps to be reminded of them as I prepare for the full days ahead.
1. Plan ahead…but not too far ahead.
For me, it works best to plan in one-week segments. On Sunday afternoon, I sit down with my calendar and look at the coming week. I write out my menu – all three meals for each day; start a shopping list for the grocery store; note what events I need to prepare for (buy cards or gifts for a birthday, make or buy snacks for a class party, wrap a present, etc.); and pencil in any errands that need to be run.
If I try to think too far ahead, it’s overwhelming. I usually end up forgetting something, and have to make extra trips to the store anyway! My exception to this would be doing basic Christmas planning early on, i.e. writing out a detailed budget well before you actually start making Christmas purchases. I just did our Christmas budget this past weekend!
2. Let go of expectations.
Since we’re getting home late most evenings, I’m serving simple meals. The slow cooker is my friend! We may not have perfectly matched outfits for our family pictures, but that’s okay. Simplifying and using what I already have works just fine in most situations.
This tip obviously speaks mostly to the expectations I put on myself! My husband and daughters go with the flow fairly well. I’m usually the one who wants everything to be “just so.” I have to remind myself that it’s the time spent making memories with family and friends that’s the most important thing.
3. Communicate clearly.
If you want to plan a specific family activity, let your husband know. If you need your children’s help with certain tasks, explain what they need to do. From how much to spend on gifts to where and how holidays will be celebrated, clear communication helps everything flow more smoothly.
Now that are our girls are older, this means that I also need to include them in the planning of activities. They may have things they want to do with friends or school events they’d like to attend that I’ll need to organize our schedule around.
4. Put people before tasks.
You’ll probably not regret making time for lunch with a friend over finishing that “Pinterest-y” Christmas wreath project. Taking your children to the park on a beautiful afternoon certainly trumps having only from-scratch dishes on the Thanksgiving table.
I’m naturally task-oriented, so I have to remind myself of this frequently. Being fully present and able to enjoy these moments is the best gift I can give my family. It’s good for all of us if I’m at peace and not stressed out!
5. Make your quiet time a priority.
Spending time in prayer and Bible reading every day helps us keep our focus where it needs to be. There are so many sweet lessons about gratitude and God’s love and Christ’s birth and new beginnings that we can focus on in this season. No matter how busy the day promises to be, beginning it with quiet time always gets things started on the right foot.
So, as we approach another holiday season, what tips do you have for thriving when life is busy?