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Holiday Boundaries

Holiday Boundaries

By: Heidi Schertz, Mom of three

I saw a sassy quote the other day, “strong women don’t have attitudes, they have standards and boundaries.” What does that look like in an emotional sense? How can we, as moms and parents, make sure that our emotional needs are met?

Last time, I talked to you about advocating for yourself after having kids. We talked about setting up boundaries that allowed you to meet your physical needs. And why it was hugely important. I’ll say it again- you have permission to meet your own needs! I can’t say it enough. Eating, drinking and sleeping are all basics that allow you to function as a human. If you fail to do them you are not effective as a person or as a parent. 

So you’re eating meals, drinking your coffee/ water (ahem), and getting mostly enough sleep. You’ve started having those convos with your partner that sound a lot like, “Hey can you watch the baby while I pee?” You are probably also having a lot of conversations about exposure and COVID and navigating testing. Perhaps you are having hard conversations about how to enjoy a normal holiday season and keep your family healthy. 

Allow this year to be different

The one thing I wanted this year was a normal Thanksgiving. We were supposed to go to my  in-laws like always. We were supposed to have the same food as always. My kids were going to get to play with their cousins. But due to COVID exposure on their side of the family that wasn’t possible. This really enraged me. I felt like the thing that had been I had been holding onto as my “one thing” had been ripped from me. 

The Thanksgiving I ended up having was wonderful. It was calm and restful. It was slow and allowed me time to spend the morning drinking my coffee and playing games with my kids. I don’t know what the rest of the holidays are going to look like for me. I do know it might be beautiful, even if it’s different.

This holiday season isn’t like most. Chances are you’re having a holiday that looks different than what you’re used to. Maybe that’s a good thing for you. Maybe you’re really missing all that tradition. I want you to take a moment and think about what the ideal holiday would be for you this season. Keep it realistic. What compromises from “normal” are you going to have to make? What are you unwilling to compromise? How can you navigate the two?

Being able to opt-out

Once you have your image of what YOUR ideal holiday looks like you need to have a chat with your co-parent. What is THEIR ideal holiday? What compromises are THEY willing to make? 

Here’s where having a kid or baby really comes in handy. I want to give you permission to lean on the fact that you have a kid. “Hey, I’m sorry we can’t make it, but Graham’s been sleeping poorly, and that’s right in the middle of our nap time,” is a great excuse if you don’t want to attend an event. Or “We’ can’t get a sitter because of the pandemic, so sorry we can’t come,” is another one.

Your IMMEDIATE family gets priority here. How can you best ensure that the people in your household get their needs met? THIS INCLUDES YOU. You are allowed this year to opt-out of events that make you uncomfortable. I encourage you also to opt into the events and people that bring you joy. Find a way to see people safely. Set up a time to video chat with your sister who lives in another state. Take time to read the book you want to read. Focus on loving up and loving on those who are with you.

The best gift you can give yourself is time

The other day my friend asked me how I’m doing. I answered, “Ok I think. But it’s been a long time since I felt like I was doing more than just surviving. I know that’s not just me, but it still sucks.” We need to recognize that we are not alone. 

I know this year has felt like too much time. Too much space stretched around you. With no real answers. No real end. Each day we navigate this year and it changes on us. That’s stressful. You are not alone. How can you carve some time for yourself that is rejuvenating this holiday? A bubble bath might not solve the pandemic, but it might let you relax. Taking time to go for a walk with your kids might not change who we can and can’t see, but it does help to reframe our perspective. 

Yesterday, the kids and I went for a 10-minute walk around the block. I’m pretty sure it took more time to get their coats on. But we saw a new family putting up lights and we said welcome to the neighborhood. When asked about what the best part of their day was both older kids said the walk. I couldn’t agree more. Small gifts of my time this year are what I’m focusing on. Gifts of time for myself and my kids. 

Happy Holidays Ladies. Let Your Hearts Be Light. 

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