Needless to say, a lot of these suggestions for sanity retention are also useful at other times of the year. Some might require a little practice. Some might be life-changing. Here is an example from a reader:
My very first job (in a diner) was grueling, and the boss was a creep, but he gave me a tip I’ve used every day since: Never Go Empty-Handed. Whether at work or at home, there is always something that needs to be somewhere else. Before you move, look around for the thing that belongs in that other location, and take it along.
Please try to face the fact that you will not acquire superpowers for the holidays. Prepare to be supportive of other adults who are struggling to make nice memories for kids. Maybe even cut yourself a little slack. The archived post “Take It Easy on Yourself” offers more excellent thoughts about controlling expectations, a lot more.
Helpful new ideas
In addition, here are a couple of fresh references. Amy Meyers, M.D., offers four specific suggestions that can transform expectations from tyrants that rule us into friends that help us.
— Anticipate something will go wrong.
— Know that you will feel tired after staying out late at a holiday party or with friends and don’t make any taxing plans the next morning.
— Set your expectations for just you. You cannot control other people.
— Focus on what you can control — your time and yourself.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed when preparing a home for the holidays, writer Samantha Lande advises that we create a definitive list of the most important aspects, and concentrate on those. Wash the dirty dishes, because looking at them is just a stone bummer. Wipe down and sanitize kitchen surfaces. Clean out the refrigerator. By providing space and clean containers beforehand, show love to your future self, the one who will be responsible for storing leftovers when the festivities have ended. If you plan to send guests home with leftovers or desserts, get hold of some disposable containers that they don’t need to be responsible for returning.
In public rooms, banish clutter, especially from surfaces where guests might need to set plates and glasses. In general, start from the top, because debris obeys the law of gravity. To sweep and vacuum floors first, before dusting or cleaning things higher up, is to invite failure. Lande issues a reminder to scrub the guest bathroom and offers explicit instructions, especially for those who were raised in households where this sort of thing was neglected.
Feet and hospitality
The author didn’t mention this, but if you have a no-shoes-in-the-house rule, warn guests ahead of time so they can bring slippers. Or provide shoe covers, and of course a chair right inside the door so they don’t have to do awkward one-legged acrobatics. Speaking of the front door, make sure it is nice and clean because first impressions count. Take care of these vital cleaning chores, and let the rest go.
Lande provides one last hint, which is to make the place smell good. Avoid store-bought chemical-based gadgets, which can fight with or overwhelm natural cooking aromas, and even cause discomfort to sensitive people. Provide some kind of natural scent, like brewing coffee, or simmering spices or citrus peels.
Once again, the reason for doing all this is to keep stress levels low in responsible adults both for their own sakes, and to prevent the transfer of malaise from stressed-out adults to children, because emotional turmoil is a direct cause of overeating in people of every age.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Tips for Gut-Healthy, Stress-Free Holidays,” AmyMyersMD.com, 12/15/22
Source: “8 Things to Clean Before Company Comes,” AARP.org 12/07/22
Image by Nick Amoscato/CC BY 2.0