As we head into the holidays, I think it’s an excellent time to visit this Essential. There’s a joke-not-joke that the reason there are so few well-known female artists is that male artists have generally had wives. The point being, that in order to be creative, you simply have to have a space carved out for creative work to happen (Virginia Woolf famously called this “a room of one’s own”), but still – households have to be kept running, which means a great deal of scut work has to be done every day. Really – think about it. Even with all the modern labor-saving devices (thanks, Alexa!), beds still have to be made, laundry still has to be washed, dried, and folded, meals still have to be prepared and dishes still have to be washed, dried, and put away. Groceries have to be bought, carried in, and put away. Floors have to be vacuumed, swept, or mopped. Trash has to be taken out. Pets have to be fed, groomed, and taken to the vet. If you have a yard, grass has to be cut and leaves have to be raked. Houses have to be maintained, bills have to be paid, and accounts have to be balanced. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera – and that’s not even touching of the work involved if Small Ones share your house! Add in holiday decorating, cleaning, inviting, prepping, cooking, shopping, wrapping, and dozens of other tasks and it’s amazing more women don’t check themselves in to asylums before January arrives.
In my house, both adults work demanding full-time jobs and in the past, I’ve run myself ragged trying to Do It All and I often felt like a failure when I fell short of my self-imposed standards. That level of insanity (and it IS insane, make no mistake) led to quite a few stony silences, one-sided arguments, and crying fits before I realized this Essential was, well, Essential. ASK FOR HELP.
Self-care isn’t just about bubble baths and wholesome food. Oh, sure, it involves those things (along with sleep, generosity, and kindness), but it’s also about taking an honest, hard look at things as they are and deciding what lines need to be drawn. I don’t mind making the bed, emptying the dishwasher, and keeping up with laundry. But much beyond that was getting to be too much for me to handle with my work schedule, so – after talking it over with my Other Half – we’re exploring having a professional come in to regularly do some of the deeper cleaning. It’ll cost money, but I think it’s going to be a bargain in terms of me being less short-tempered and generally calmer.
What tasks could you outsource this holiday season? Keep the ones you love, of course. If you dream about holiday baking all year, you should keep that going. But if you dread finding the time to do six dozen Christmas cards, well . . . maybe it’s time to hand that to the kids or even (quelle horreur!) scale it down. On the other hand, maybe you love sitting down with a stack of cards and a roll of stamps but dread making holiday cookies, yet you feel that you just have to because you always have done that. In that case, write the cards while you listen to soul-restoring music and sip something delectable then go buy your cookies. (I’m partial to Mrs. Hanes’ Moravian Ginger Crisps, myself.)
The holidays are meant to be enjoyed. You’re a Diva. Don’t let anyone else tell you what they should look like.
PS – You might find links like this one useful to help you set small, easily-attainable self-care goals during the looming busy time of the holidays. You might also enjoy revisiting my efforts to live Fiona Ferris’s 30 Chic Days from last year – just use the search tab to look for “30 Days” or click here for the list! And don’t forget the “Home Luxuries” material in the Resources tab – maybe at at-home kitchen spa day would soothe your jangled nerves and keep you from screaming at a caroler.