December 6, 2016

Strategically Winning December

My family thought I’d taken my well-earned nickname – “Rou-Tina” – a bit too far recently when I spent almost an entire day mapping out our December activities. My daughters and I take a break from most of our homeschool academic studies for most of the month, but I wanted to plan for the Advent devotionals we’ll be doing, and I needed to schedule daily practice time for their various instruments and make note of recitals and outside lesson times that occur throughout the month. There are also a few non-negotiable family traditions to incorporate, and I thought it would be fun to consider participating in some well-chosen Christmas-oriented community events.

Mapping it all out in table format allowed my picture-smart brain to see all the options, which was part of my goal. But it also helped me commit to another goal, which is to avoid holiday over-busyness. I know all too well – from personal experience as well as the regular laments of far too many friends – how easy it is to allow this time of year to become harried and hectic, the very antithesis of the beautiful, peaceful, reflective season it should be. I didn’t map things out to set a regimented, inflexible schedule – I fully anticipate that we’ll add some things and eliminate others as we go. But by laying out all the possible activities of which I’m already aware, I’ve been able to set a plan that I believe will allow us to actually enjoy the season.

Of course, every family has its own level of “tolerance” for a healthy amount of busyness. Thus, what would be crazy-busy for one family would represent the height of boredom for another, and what would constitute “just enough” activity for one would be chaos for another. I am planning for quiet, low-key weekday mornings and roughly two or three afternoon or evening activities of various sorts each week. I’ve avoided double scheduling – i.e., planning for two outside activities in one day – and, in fact, I’ve aimed for an activity no more than every other day because I know what my kids and I can handle. For each weekend – when my husband is home – I’ve listed one or two events to consider, and we’ll decide as a family when the time comes whether to do both, just one, or neither.

I realize that planning in December seems “unromantic” to some; in fact, there are those who appear to thrive on flying by the seat of their pants all year. But, realistically speaking, it seems that most of us too easily fall into the very stressful trap of non-stop activity because we haven’t taken time to set a course of action. I’d rather have my family tease me now and thank me later than find myself sniping at them because I’ve become over-extended. Strategy can win a war and it can “win December” too.

Photo Credit: Green Bay Botanical Garden

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