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Take the Day Off: 'Tis the Season to Say No to Doing It All
Give yourself the gift of time.
If the prospect of trimming the tree, decking the halls and tackling a never-ending list of holiday chores makes you feel less than merry, I have a radical suggestion: Don’t.
We all know that moms are the elves that make holiday magic happen. We send holiday cards. We purchase gifts. We wrap them. We decorate. We cook. We clean. We welcome guests or plan travel. And many of us do it in addition to working full-time.
Burdened by this overwhelming and inequitable load, we don’t even get to enjoy the fruits of our own labors: We take a quick pic of our kids’ big grins when they open their gifts, then go back to cooking and cleaning.
The holiday to-do list feels especially daunting during a year when many of us have been playing catch-up, taking our kids to the tutoring sessions, soccer games and birthday parties that they missed over the last few years. We’re still shaking off our pandemic-era parental burnout. Now we’re supposed to do more?
We deserve some peace on earth, too.
Don’t feel bad about shelving that Elf this year, or staying home for the holidays. Let this newsletter be the permission you need to scale back, guilt-free. Delegate tasks to your partner, parents or in-laws. Outsource where you can. Or don’t. Your kids don’t care if you buy matching family pajamas, we promise.
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If the mad dash to New Year’s Day leaves you feeling depleted, make sure you’re taking care of yourself, too.
That’s something Nicole Centeno, the founder and co-CEO of Splendid Spoon, tries to keep in mind year-round, but especially during the hectic holiday season.
“The reality of being a caretaker is that we have others (typically very little ones) who truly depend on us, and we sacrifice our own time to make sure they are always fed, rested and surrounded by love,” says the mom of three. “Let’s first start by acknowledging our work as caregivers is valuable (the caregiver economy is a $650 billion sector after all!), and that to do our best work, we need moments of respite and rejuvenation. We need a few days off dammit!”
We couldn’t agree more, so we asked Nicole to share her best tips for doing just that. Here’s what she suggests:
How to Find ‘Me Time’ When You’re Incredibly Busy
by Nicole Centeno, Founder & Co-CEO, Splendid Spoon
In my work as an entrepreneur, I know that grinding away at tactical everyday tasks prevents me from doing the bigger work of strategy, evolution and growth. By scaling back on these duties, I have been able to build my business, and enjoy my time more as a mom and wife, as well. These ‘Take the Day Off Moments,’ as I like to call them, prevent burnout and help us cultivate deeper personal growth.
Here’s how I make them happen:
Start with an hour, every week. Name this hour ‘off time’ and put it on whatever calendar you may share with your family. Your job is to protect that hour and stay disciplined about maintaining your boundary with your loved ones. This includes your kids, your partner, and any caretakers who are supporting you. You will be asked to move this hour around. Use this small piece of your calendar to practice saying no. This is a skill many of us caretakers need to develop, and you will be tested!
Drop two items from your to-do list. My older son taught me this trick. I was tired and overwhelmed while making dinner and chasing after my toddler. My son looked at me and said, ‘Mom, pick two things and don’t do them.’ When the list is a mile long, this is great advice. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that dropping the ball (intentionally) is part of prioritizing the most important things.
Delegate one more thing in your week. This can be moving to an online grocery delivery service, investing in a pre-made meal service (hello Splendid Spoon!) or asking your partner to accept one more household responsibility. If you are feeling overwhelmed it’s probably for a good reason—delegation is a critical aspect of leadership that we can embrace at home, as well.
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Whitney Casares, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a practicing board-certified pediatrician, author, speaker and full-time working mom. Dr. Whitney is a Stanford University-trained private practice pediatrician whose expertise spans the public health, direct patient care and media worlds. She is also CEO and Founder of Modern Mommy Doc and The Modern Mamas Club App. Book Dr. Whitney today!
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Family-friendly ballot measures, including ones that protect a right to abortion, win big. On Tuesday, voters in four states elected to protect abortion rights, according to CNN. Voters in Colorado opted to provide students with free school meals—no matter their families’ incomes. New Mexico will be the first state in the country to guarantee a constitutional right to early childhood education, after voters approved a measure that provides a dedicated funding stream for universal preschool and child care (roughly $150 million to early childhood education.)
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