Holiday Stress And Taking A Break

Is it just me or is this time of year often full of holiday stress?

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.

Sentimental Silver

I typically worked 16 hours a day from mid-November until Christmas.  Piles like this would go to the post office every few days.

Holiday Orders

I resorted to decorating my workshop with a small Christmas tree, because I spent all of my time in there in December.

Little Pink Tree

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 crazy crazier. 

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.

Christmas Recipes

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.

Grandfathers

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.

Care-Map-For-Grace2This 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.

Crazy Year

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.

Pinterest-PerfectionBut 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!

Real Teacher Gifts

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.

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!

Christmas With My Girls

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.  :)

Comments

  1. says

    Amen Sister! I could not have said it better myself. This is exactly how I feel, and as a new blogger I don’t feel as though I can take off, but I am right their with you. Every year I say things will be less crazy next year and than next year rolls around and it is actually crazier. I am already saying….next year will be easier, but will it?

    Thanks for the great post!

  2. says

    Enjoy your VERY WELL-DESERVED break! Your blog is fabulous, but it won’t be if you aren’t able to step back ad enjoy your life and your family. Myself, and all of your readers, will be here when you get back. Have some fun and relax!

    • says

      Mandy, thank you so much for your kind words, they mean so much to me, truly! And I do think breaks are good for all of us, creativity can start to run thin when your batteries are low, so hopefully lots of creative inspiration will come from enjoying some down time. :) Have a very happy holiday!

  3. says

    Christi,

    I can not even begin to tell you how much this post resonates with my family. I read it nodding my head with tears in my eyes. I will keep your family in my prayers and wish you a most ‘normal’ stress level at Christmas and time to make cookies that have already been blogged and things that are not Pin worthy.

    My family will be stepping back a little as well. Thank you for your inspiring words.

    Merry Christmas!

    Donna

    • says

      Donna, while I’m not happy to hear that you are feeling the same way, I think it totally helps to know that we aren’t alone in those feelings. I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas and that you can truly enjoy it! :) xoxoxo

    • says

      Dorothy, I can’t imagine having the cookbook right now as well (I pretty much pray every day I don’t get my edits back from my editor this month), so you have your hands full. I always have that “I’ll make it up, we’ll do it later…” attitude, but I’ve now had a decade of that not happening. It’s actually been a really nice few days, when I don’t break into a panic attack thinking about the fact I’m not working. Hey, not like you can go from 100 to 0 *that* easily! :) Good luck, I hope you get some down time to have some fun.

  4. says

    Christi this was supremely awesome and so well written! Pinterest Perfect. I’ve never heard that expression but gosh, it’s so true and I think we all have a big case of wanting to keep up the P.P. notion. The modern day, keeping up with the Jones’, so to speak. Being too busy creating PP gingerbread houses to create un-PP ones with our kids, isn’t that the truth. I go ‘on vacation’ every year around this time but it’s really, really hard to just kick back and relax b/c everything is busting loose at the seams and everyone needs something and it’s just nuts…completely relate to everything you said. And please, ENJOY!!! your well-deserved break! :) xo

    • says

      Averie, thank you my sweet friend. I’ve always appreciated having you there to understand how crazy it is and that sometimes trying to sit down one ball means that they would all fall and you just struggle to keep them going. Your candid honesty means so much to me, and I’m thankful to be able to know I can say to you “I’m going to pull my hair out!” and you get it. Thank you. I hope you guys are enjoying the beach and being able to get some relaxation. I’ve always felt that the ocean has some magical quality that helps reset our soul, so grab all of that you can. Hugs my friend.

  5. says

    A blogger friend shared your post with me today and I’m so grateful she did. I can totally relate, trying to make all these sugar free holiday treats for my readers and still trying to plan a fabulous Christmas meal for my family, working on a cookbook and homeschooling 3 kiddies. I’m almost ready to throw my hands up with a white little flag saying I give up! BUT I try to rely on the one day at a time message and a to do list and at the end of the day if I can say I stepped away from the laptop and iPhone and spent quality time with my family, I am happy. They will always come first. You are an amazing momma and you’ve made a wise decision. Merry Christmas!

    • says

      Thank you so much Brenda. I can only imagine – your plate is SO full. You are right, they do come first. With my oldest about to turn 11, it’s like oh my heck, where does the time go? We can’t slow it down or get it back, so we really need to do what we can to make the most of it. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas.

    • says

      Thank you Kristen, I appreciate it. It’s felt really nice to be able to focus so much of my attention on the girls and the holidays. Interestingly it already seems to have me feeling more creative and inspired – sometimes you just have to let some of the pressure off of that pressure cooker and find ways to fill back up like you said. Thank you!

  6. says

    You go, girl! Take your break and enjoy it. Just today I was stressing about how to get it all done and I thought “goodness, who cares if that last Christmas cookie doesn’t get published until after Christmas?”. If I push too hard, I will begin to resent it and what’s the point of that?

    • says

      Thank you so much Carolyn. I think you are so right, it is easy to push it to a point where we do resent it. And really, what’s the worst that can happen if we don’t get one more recipe up? In the long run, that is probably not what we’d have a regret about in the big picture. :)

  7. says

    I have been doing the bare minimum these days. I love that you are taking it easy for a couple weeks. Nothing wrong with that at ALL!! Once life calms down a bit after Christmas we need to get together….finally! xoxo

  8. says

    Wow, it’s crazy that we all work ourselves up into a frenzy for a holiday that should be about reflecting on the things that are most important. This was such a great post for me to read during my first Christmas as I blogger. I left my full time non blogging job after the first week in December and thought I’d have time to get everything done. But no, I’m running in circles faster than I was before! Thanks for being so open and reminding me to slow down. And for giving me a heads up that next year probably won’t be better unless I approach things alot differently :) I can’t count the number of times in the past few weeks I told myself next year would be less crazy!

Trackbacks

  1. […] As with so many people, this “most wonderful time of the year” is busy.  A few blogs I follow touch on slowing down, making time for and taking note of special moments with family and friends, and stop trying to be “Pinterest Perfect.”  I’m going to link to one of the bloggers who stated it well, and I want to share this blog anyway because she makes some awesome treats: Love from the Oven. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>