I find myself being very passionate about this blog topic because I feel that this is something that I struggle with around the holidays. After talking with a close friend, she admitted that she also struggled with this as well around the holidays. I figured it would be a good time to discuss what this looks like through the holidays.
End of October, beginning of November hits and BOOM. Your phone is starting to get flooded with texts and calls regarding Thanksgiving, Friends-givings, Christmas , and Friends-mas, NYE parties, and then any little luncheons/dinners for gift or ornament exchanges. Don't forget Secret Santa at work, and the yearly potluck. For each event you bring a dish and a gift. Every weekend is stacked top to bottom with events.... Don't forget our sweet family and friends who have a birthday during these times, too! Our head is spinning, we are dollar by dollar going into debt, working up a credit card debts that will take us at least the next 6 months to pay off. We have friends that put themselves further in debt to purchase even a small gift, and then we continue to go into debt to gift them back. It's total chaos, and extreme stress during the holidays. There HAS GOT to be another way of holiday-ing.
OH! Let's not forget about spending money, time, effort, energy around and on people that we don't particularly care for, or family members that make us uncomfortable. I mean, yes. At some points and occasions we have to "adult" and be mature... but ultimately we get to decide where, when, how, and who we spend our holidays and free time with. Of course we don't want to be rude or ugly towards other people, or family, but this should not come from the expense of our own mental, emotional, or physical health. These should be the most wonderful times of the year, spent joyfully with people we love and care about. Coming out of the holidays looking like we've been run over by a truck is NOT the look.
Below, I wanted to make a list some things to consider while setting boundaries for your holidays.
I would get a planner and look at what days you are off work, first. Seeing your actual availability to others vs having any time off for rest or spent under your own roof is going to be vital to your joy and health during the holidays.
Prioritize! Prioritize the people and things that you wish to spend your time with and on. Remember, it's not that you don't want to spend your time with everyone, but you have to decide whether you are going to friends-giving or your actual family Thanksgiving dinner if they happen to be on the same day. For me it's family before friends, and rest/ chores, before friends. I, personally, cannot go a whole month or two without doing chores pr resting simply because I over committed myself.
Once you have priortized who you want to make sure to spend time with, reach out to them ASAP. For example: "Hey mom, I want to make sure we get to spend some time together for Christmas this year. These are the days I have off work and available to spend holiday time together. What would work best for you?" Next on my priority list would be my dad. I would then call him and let him know the availability I then had.
If you are married or in a relationship where you are expected to spend time with their family as well, this can be very challenging. If you can fit it in on your calendar, then that is great! If not then maybe look at suggesting that you combine the families. If you have a home of your own, you might consider hosting.
Now, my friends are next on my priority list. Depending on my work schedule, how the family events worked out, if I have had a day off to rest or do my chores, I will wait for them to text me regarding their event. If you are the type of person that likes to host these events, then maybe you are great at juggling lots of extra things during the holidays, that is great. Just skip this part. You may or may not be able to go. Try not to put so much pressure on yourself to make it to EVERY event. Maybe you can go to some, and not all. Maybe this isn't your things and extra events add pressure and stress to your life. For me, staying home with family, making a good meal, staying in my PJs, lighting the fire place and watching movies sounds more fulfilling to me than extra holiday events. I try to find the balance, IF I CAN.
GIFTS: Again, come back to your priority list. Who do you know you want to have a gift from you? How can you make it affordable to gift even just the people that are priorities? I know last year we spent close to $2,000 on Christmas for all of our family and some friends, and random parties we went to. Dreadfully, some of that being on a credit card. We really do have the right to say, "I am sorry, that is not in my budget." You can even set a budget up before you even prioritize and say, "I am not going to spend over $500 this year on Christmas." PERIOD. Then find and work a plan that supports that. All of these people are not paying your bills, or going without groceries or gas at the expense of their gifts. My fiance and his family, we all drew names for and set a price limit. They also picked to do a white elephant gift. This is two gifts, but much easier than buying for 6 people in his family. I then told my dad he would get one gift, and my mom and step dad that they would get one big combined gift. With the budget that has been set for family, we have met our $500 budget before any parties, work gifts, or friend gifts. It stinks to not be a participant or feel "cheap" but it does not matter. You taking care of you, your health, your budget > being "lame" Life is too expensive, and people just simply don't make enough money to support the holidays that everyone expects from each other.
I hope this has been helpful and encouraged you to go even further and set more boundaries that support you, your health, you budget in all ways possible. If you think of ways and ideas to set boundaries, please share. If you have any questions or would like feedback on how to set a specific boundary, we are here for you! Please don't hesitate to reach out!
I hope that this year is different, less stressful, and more enjoyable for YOU, and doesn't come at the expense of your pocket book, or your wellness.