Is it just me or is this time of year often full of holiday stress?
For the past decade, I have always had jobs that were pretty crazy during the holidays. For over seven years I ran a jewelry company called Sentimental Silver, and Christmas always meant chaos. Orders would triple, and since my product was geared for moms, a lot of dads ordered. At the last minute. Like guys do. I was blessed to have a successful small business, but the holidays were crazy for a one woman shop.
I typically worked 16 hours a day from mid-November until Christmas. Piles like this would go to the post office every few days.
I resorted to decorating my workshop with a small Christmas tree, because I spent all of my time in there in December.
And every year I thought “next year won’t be so crazy”, and that I’d make it up to the kids. And like clock work, next year was
Holiday Stress, Blogger Style.
As a food blogger and recipe developer that focuses on baking and sweet treats, Christmas is pretty much just as crazy as retail was. Everyone is looking for recipes… readers, brands, websites, everyone, and we so very much want to provide everyone with all of the recipes and ideas we possibly can. Christmas cookies, fudge, candies – people are ready to make it all, and as a blogger, we truly work hard to create an endless stream of ideas for our readers and the brands that we work with.
So even after closing my jewelry company, Christmas is still crazy, and I still say “next year” or think “I’ll make it up to them” as I’m too busy photographing a beautiful gingerbread house to actually sit down and make completely un-Pinterest worthy ones with my kids.
Holidays are odd when you work in this little niche of the world. While Christmas is a few weeks away, I’m busy working on Valentine’s projects for brands. Christmas? Yeah, I started that back in July! I think bloggers, publishers and other folks have kind of a weird warped calendar that we work on when it comes to holidays. It’s funny, it’s not the most normal, but it can also leave you feeling a bit burnt out on a holiday before the holiday ever arrives. The magic can wear off a bit. Every year I seem to cut a few more things off of the list of what we used to do. Holiday portraits – it’s been two years, homemade gifts are becoming rare, the favorite traditional family recipes are replaced with ones that have not already been blogged, and I don’t even have a Christmas card on my radar yet this year, much less one ready to send out. The holidays on the blog and off the blog are very different, at least for me.
It’s not surprising to me that I’m really feeling the holiday stress this year more than ever. It’s been a bit of a stressful and emotional year for us. I’ve lost both of my grandfathers, and my heart is heavy thinking of Christmas without them, especially with one of my Grandpa’s having a Christmas birthday, and me having spent Christmas with him almost every single year of my life. I worry about my oldest daughter, my parents, my brothers, my aunts, uncles, cousins and one remaining grandparent, as we all face a Christmas that will be missing some special people.
We’ve greatly increased my little one’s therapy schedule this year, with an average week including 7-10 therapy appointments. To put that in perspective, think of going to the doctor, dentist, any place, 7-10 times a week, and leaving with homework each time, and each time being reminded of how behind your kiddo is and what an uphill battle lies ahead. I’ve shared on my other (not so sugar coated) blog just how much goes into our daughter’s care. I joke that it’s like running a small corporation, it’s a lot to manage each and every day. There is an entire team of specialists, doctors, therapists, and case managers, stacks of paperwork and miles of red tape to tackle., day after day. And that caregiver burnout thing is real. Huffington Post Parents even shared my care map in a post earlier this year.
This year I’ve also written a book. Well, I’ve written the manuscript, to be honest there’s still editing and a lot of work to be done soon. It’s something super exciting and completely amazing, but also incredibly demanding and pretty exhausting. We added a room onto our house, with my husband doing most of the work himself. I love the end result, but oh boy, it’s a journey getting there over nine months time with a big hole in your house! Lots of little things over a year that have added up to a whole lot of stress.
Don’t get me wrong, in many ways it has been an amazing year, but it’s been at a crazy pace, full of highs and lows. None of which I’ve really had time to wrap my head around.
So, I’ve decided to do something crazy. Take a break. Catch my breath. Nothing major, just a week or two of down time. I have commitments and contracts that require my attention soon (two new ones which came in while I was writing this post, go figure!), but I think for two weeks, things can wait.
I want to enjoy the holidays with my kids first and foremost. I’ll never have another Christmas with a three year old and ten year old in my home. Ever. I can’t buy it back. I can’t make it up. There are no do overs. And I don’t want to miss it. Again. It’s easy to stay on the treadmill of work and think “it’s always slow and quiet after Christmas” but that’s not quite how it works with little ones who find so much magic in the day leading up to Christmas. I want to make gingerbread houses, bake my family’s favorite holiday cookies – all of which are already on the blog, and find ways to be of service, help my community and give back, and teach my daughters how important that is. I want to spend time with family, so many of whom live so close, yet we see so rarely. I want to look at lights, drink hot cocoa, read stories, and have gifts purchased (and wrapped!) and under the tree before 11:59pm on Christmas Eve. I want to decorate paper trees with glitter and glue, make homely gingerbread men, and create ornaments made with paint, hand prints and those fleeting moments of childhood.
Why am I telling you this, versus just taking a break?
No, I really don’t think that my little spot on the web is so important that anyone is going to care if I’m MIA for a few days. I’m telling you for two reasons.
First, by telling you, I’ve put it out in the world, out on the web, and there’s no taking that back. It’s a way to keep me on the track I want to be on, no matter what awesome project shows up in my email box next. I’ve often been guilty of having good intentions, and not following through. This provides a level of accountability. I’ve said it. I’ve made it real.
Second, and even more importantly, I am telling you because sometimes I think as bloggers, we set the bar artificially high. You see all of the amazing things we bake, we craft and we create. These amazing creations, are for most of us, our job, our work, how we earn our living. We make it all Pinterest Perfect (read more on my thoughts on that here). And you know what, that can feel like a lot to live up to sometimes.
But guess what, even those of us creating all of those great things don’t always have it together. And that is okay. With all the great treats you see on my blog, you probably think I’ve created some super amazing treats for our teachers, right? Well, here’s the pic I shared on Instagram earlier of the gift my daughter gave to her dance teachers last night. Hot Cocoa, PEEPS and Gift Cards (I did at least manage to wrap them up). I can promise you, that’s not going to end up on Pinterest!
I’m sharing this in case you are a mom who feels like oh my word, I can’t keep up, look at all these amazing ideas, recipes, crafts, gifts on Pinterest! Look at the perfectly decorated straight out of a catalog Christmas trees on my friend’s Instagram feed! Look at the perfect holiday card from my perfect friends who have the perfect holiday photo of their entire family and pets on the front of it – with everyone looking, smiling, perfectly coordinated and no signs of stains, winter eczema, the need for a haircut or too short pants! It is so easy to feel that everyone else has it together, except me!
I’m sharing this in case you too are wondering how and if you will get it all done. All the gifts, the treats, all the activities, all the decorating. I just want you to know that at least one blogger, who helps feed the never ending screen that is Pinterest with recipes and ideas, is right there with you, feeling the same things. And you know what, that is okay.
I am a huge fan of the blog Finding Joy. If any of what I just said resonates with you and you do not already follow Finding Joy, leave my page now and get over to hers. Her words and message are so amazing, about all of the little moments that matter in life. And those moments are often not what you see on blogs or on Pinterest. And those are the moments that sometimes I think we need to focus on, at least I do. So for the next few weeks, I’m going to do just that. Focus on those moments I can’t get back. Turn down the crazy amount of holiday stress I’ve grown to accept, and replace it with an old fashioned dose of average holiday stress.
I most likely still won’t mange to get Christmas cards sent out. I’ll probably still be shopping for gifts at the last minute on Amazon Prime (yes, I’d like the overnight option!). I’m sure we won’t get in all of the holiday activities that we want to. That’s okay. As long as we are able to do some of them. So for now I’m going to put down my camera, and enjoy these two girls of mine as much as I can. And I’m going to try to not get all sappy and sentimental and cry over how big they’ve gotten in the two years since we took this photo – which is not in front of our home, we are doing great to have one strand of lights up!
You may still see some new posts pop up before Christmas. Some are already done and ready to go, and you never know when that overwhelming desire to create and share may strike, especially with another week of school for the girls. But in the meantime, I hope you are have wonderful holiday season, and find time to do some of the things that YOU want to do most.