Celebrate with Simplicity this Holiday Season

Celebrate with Simplicity this Holiday Season

By Brooke Radloff, MA IWLC

If you are pregnant, postpartum or have small children at home this holiday season, then I have a message for you . . . Simplify. Be kind and easy with yourself. Lower your expectations—for yourself, your partner and the holidays themselves. 

Don’t try to do everything. In fact, make it a goal to do less than ever. Practice saying no, exorcize your “shoulds,” give precedence to your well-being and prioritize your sleep and sanity over obligation. You won’t always be pregnant, or postpartum, or be a mom of small children.  Give yourself a break. Give yourself a pass. Give yourself a pat on the back for doing all that you are already doing….because it’s a lot.

You are doing a lot. You hear that?! Growing, feeding and caring for small humans are big and decidedly important jobs. It will run you ragged if you try to do that well, take good enough care of yourself AND everything that is expected of you this holiday season. Not to mention whatever else you have on your plate with work and life.

Although not all of them will be, many of those expectations are put onto you by yourself, so that should be a gift you give yourself this year—A free pass to do the bare minimum.  Celebrate simplifying your holiday season.

When my youngest daughter was born we were nigh on the holiday season. As I prepared for her birth I didn’t give much thought to how we would manage the holidays that year. And yet, there I suddenly was—new baby in arms, eyes glazed over, deep in the new baby haze, staring Thanksgiving right in the face.

We had a tradition of spending Thanksgiving with my family, a few hours drive away, which to my newly postpartum body might as well been on the other side of the planet.
There was no way we were getting in the car for that drive. So we decided to stay home. I may have managed a shower, but I doubt it. Luckily my husband was on the same page, as he was almost as tired as I was, and was entirely as spread thin. Things were already hard enough as we all made the transition to being a family of four. We didn’t invite anyone over or offer to host our families. I didn’t attempt a turkey or any of the traditional sides. We just let it all go, and we were fine with that. My family was disappointed but they were able to understand and supported the decision.   

[pullquote quote="I learned that doing less had a much bigger payoff."]

At the last minute my husband picked up Thanksgiving dinner from the deli at Whole Foods. I remember the four of us sitting on the floor together, me nursing my daughter as we ate turkey
and mashed potatoes. We had a lovely meal, played a matching game with our four year old and took turns saying what we were thankful for. It was lovely. Simple. Easy. Fulfilling.

Ahhh . . . the magical power of lowered expectations. I’ll let you in on a secret….No expectations = no disappointments.As the months wore on and life with a new baby and four year old began to normalize, I was able to do much more. However, it soon became clear that my capacity had not yet bounced back to match my intentions. We celebrated Hanukkah and traveled to see family for Christmas. We launched back into our usual family traditions and forged forward with creating new ones for our new family of four.Honestly, that time is now all kind of a blur, but I do know that we kept it simple all the way through.

I kept hearing my own words, the things I would counsel my own clients on. “You will have the capacity to do it all another year, trust me, you will. You will have more energy. You will be well-rested again.  Your capacity will eventually match your intentions without wearing yourself out in the process.”Sometimes I listened. I forced myself to keep releasing my “shoulds” and feelings of obligation. And, yes, I had to wrestle with guilt and still pushed myself to keep up the pace and do more than I actually had the capacity for, but doing this always had consequences. Inevitably my exhaustion would get the best of me, and I’d end the day in tears, get a bout of mastitis, or take us all on an emotional roller coaster ride. Time and time again, I learned that doing less had a much bigger payoff.

So if I were to give you a gift this holiday session, it would be an invitation to be kind to yourself, an invitation to give yourself a break, an invitation to prioritize that which is most important to you and your family, an invitation to lower your expectations and hopes, an invitation to do less and enjoy more and an invitation to enjoy the sweetness of simplicity this holiday season.