I blinked and just like that – Thanksgiving was around the corner.
As I watch everyone around me become consumed with holiday to-do lists, I make it my mission to focus on the contrary. Fewer lists. Fewer to-dos. More sanity (or clinging onto the little I have left). After all, life as a Mom of Multiples offers enough stress and pressure.
What if, as parents, we could find ways to lessen the load of what we have heaped upon ourselves during the holidays? If just for this season of thanks and giving we could stop giving in to the pressure and the expectations and the sense of needing to compete with the digital world of false perfection?
I resolved a few years ago that I will refuse to give in to the man-made pressures of the holidays. When I begin to feel overwhelmed, I consider my priorities and reestablish my personal goals:
1) Refuse to give into familial or societal pressures – because who gives them the right to dictate how WE do things? Do you. Do what works for your family. Do what allows you to honor your beliefs, faith and values.
2) Refocus energies towards immediate family – for me, that is, those living under my roof – not everyone else who feels they have a say in what I do with MY family.
3) Put the phone down! Really, the craving for social media is only as strong as I convince myself is necessary, so I don’t have an excuse. Something has got to give, so social media gets the boot (even if it’s just for a little while).
Despite this personal directive the lists continue to grow – regardless of our goals and priorities. Family photos, choosing outfits, visiting families, traveling, meal planning and preparation, festive decorating get added to our growing lists of to-dos.
The question is – who are all these tasks really satisfying?
If you don’t find joy and satisfaction in fulfilling any of these, then it’s probably time for a reassessment!
This Thanksgiving season ask yourself what is best for your family and your children?
For me, spending quality time with my immediate family takes precedence above all. How do we accomplish this togetherness? We spend less time running around dropping kids off to activities and more time together as a family. We run errands together (after all, if we keep the kids home, they will only destroy the place). We look for low-key activities to do together as a family such as having a movie night or game night, taking car rides or walks together, go on nature hunts around the neighborhood, look for free or cheap local events happening and take advantage of memberships.
The overall goal: minimize. Simplicity = less stress. Life with multiples is hectic enough, without the holiday drama. By taking a step back you can start to think of ways to minimize the pressures of the holiday and avoid becoming overwhelmed. A few simple ideas include:
Prioritize your family’s wellness
This includes mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Set intentions for each day so you have a focal point (I will be kind, I will be patient, I won’t get overwhelmed, etc.). Try journaling about what you are thankful for or what you are grateful for. Work out. Do what fuels you most, not what drains you. Think about what activities are best for everyone in your family.
Avoid social media comparisons
When it feels like social media is a stumbling block in your life, considering giving yourself a social media detox and focus on real-life, instead of the digital world. Skimping on social media can help you truly live in the moment. I highly doubt any of us will grow old one day and reflect on the value social media added to our lives.
Be Who You Are
What you see on social media is most likely more of a highlight reel than a reality check. You see those perfect pictures of twins dressed identically and smiling perfectly for the camera. But moments before there were probably plenty of tears and frustrations. We all struggle – and it’s normal.
Be confident in YOUR efforts
Only YOU can do what YOU do and what is best for your family. Stop comparing and embrace your gifts and special talents. Accept your role and own it. Each one of us has special skills and talents to offer the world. Use the tools set before you to make your mark.
Enjoy the Holiday as a Family
Most importantly, tell yourself that you CAN eliminate the pressures of the holiday. You do NOT have to succumb to the expectations or standards of others!! Prepare to stay home for the holidays if that feels right. Let the extended family know that you need the extra time to reconnect with those in your household. Ask them to visit you rather than feeling the stresses of traveling. You could try visiting friends or family that are close by. And if you do decide to travel for the holiday, remember that it won’t be picture-perfect. And that’s fine.
Now what? Feeling the pressure of cooking or cleaning? Make your spouse do it. Kidding (kind of). But really, make it a team effort or a family effort, or better yet – make it a potluck! Pick ONE dish you want to prepare and ask every person attending to bring something. Check out perfectpotluck.com or signupgenious.com and prepare a sign up for your family members to list what they will bring.
Don’t stress over house chores. Do what you can. If the family can not handle your real-life madness, then that’s their problem, not yours.
Do What You Can – Forget the Rest
Lastly, treasure your family and your time together this holiday. After all, this time of year offers the greatest opportunity to express gratitude and thankfulness, all of which can condition the path to joy. If we let the hustle of the holidays consume us, we will most certainly lose focus and feel overwhelmed, run-down, tired and incapable of cherishing the sweet simplicities this season offers.
End the “I have to do it all” era and enjoy life with your loved ones, to the best of your capabilities. Create moments. Celebrate victories. Remember the day exists as a fleeting second in time. Press forward and aspire towards the days where you will look back, reflect and smile.
Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving and may you find MANY reasons to be thankful, amidst the chaos of life with multiples.
Written by Gracie, mom of four – two girls ages 7 and 3, and 18-month old twin boys.