We all want to offer rich experiences to our kids, but doing so can feel so chaotic and exhausting that we wonder if it’s worth the trouble. Is the day in the woods worth the complaining it’s sure to bring? Is the seasonal ritual you want to create worth the snarky comment from your partner? Is teaching the kids to cook worth the extra time and patience it’s inevitably going to take?
A few thoughts to help you enjoy:
1.) Enjoy some things without your kids. It’s essential to recognize our needs as distinct from our children’s, and it’s often easier to meet them at different times.
For example, one of my favorite things to do this time of year is visit local makers markets and craft shows. (There are a gazillion amazing artists in my community, and supporting them is not only aligned with my values but one of the few kinds of shopping I actually enjoy.) For years, I attended these shows with my kids and/or with friends, but I now make it a point to go alone. It’s a gift I give myself every holiday season, and always a highlight. I like to take my time admiring people’s creations. I also know many of the artists and love being able to catch up. Going with other people often results in me feeling rushed or torn between connection time with them and what I really want, which is a chance to take it all in and meander unencumbered by other people’s agenda or expectations. Sometimes I’ll go back the next day with a daughter or a friend, but meeting MY need allows me to feel more filled up and able to give from my overflow. Seeing my kids’ needs as separate from mine years ago changed and improved everything.
2.) Let your rituals feel awkward. At first, it always feels clunky and weird to create new rituals and traditions, especially if we’re listening to our intuition and making them up. We can expect to be visited by imposter syndrome, perfectionism, insecurity, and grief whenever we flirt with spiritual self-authority. Whether we’re grieving the loss of ready-made ceremony and community we once had within the too-small-for-us religion we grew up in, or the bone-deep knowing that we’re meant to have ancient ceremonies passed down to us, we must welcome the awkward feelings and create space for our grief in order to eventually feel less awkward and more self-trusting.
3.) Consider what you gain by wearing the cape. The supermom archetype isn’t serving mothers, children, or families. It’s serving capitalism and patriarchy. So every time I feel the need to put on that cape when I’m already burned out, I ask myself…
Who benefits from my over-functioning? Who is harmed or enabled by it?
What do I gain when I overfunction (i.e. a soothed ego when others are pleased, a sense of control, etc.)?
What disempowering norms and narratives does my overfunctioning perpetuate?
Is this the version of motherhood I’m eager to model for my kids who will likely one day be parents?
How much more dangerous could I be to oppressive systems if I were well rested?
What feels more aligned with my values that I’d rather be putting time, attention, and resources towards?
And you? What helps you feel empowered this time of year?
May your rest be deep and (at least sometimes) uninterrupted during this holiday season,