Mothers everywhere know that the holidays bring with them an abundance of extra responsibilities and to do lists.
The stress of this season has become a widely accepted struggle, but I’m here today to share how I FINALLY found a better way.
You deserve to enjoy this time with your family. That is why I’m breaking down the process I used to go from burnt out and overwhelmed to managing a busy schedule with ease.
In this episode, I am sharing:
- The extra load that comes with this season
- Why I am no longer overwhelmed
- Deciding and holding our boundaries
- How to create the holiday season you and your family deserve
Welcome to the Postpartum University podcast where we support you and your provider in understanding the science, the art, and the sacredness of healing after birth. I’m Maranda Bower, your host, your postpartum nutrition specialist, and homesteading mom with four wild kids. It’s time to get you the holistic, whole-body healing that works.
Hello, my beautiful friends, Maranda here. And today I’m gonna get really personal with my life and what’s happening this holiday season, especially because the holidays are upon us. So we’re gonna have a really serious conversation here about holiday expectations and boundaries. (upbeat music) It’s the season. There’s tons of things happening, school and sporting events, and this never-ending to-do list of holiday crazy. And I know for a fact how stretched-thin moms are. And then we add this season, and we’re faced with all of the extras, not to mention other people’s expectations, not just our own, but the financial obligations, the interesting encounters with relatives, and the sheer pressure to put on the very best for our children. It’s really, really overwhelming.
And one of the questions I’m always asked, because I am not overwhelmed, and I show up as such, and I’m asked all the time, “How do you do it all? And I’m going to tell you how I do it. It’s called boundaries. Now, I know that probably sounds vague and like some pretty social media post, but hear me out. I have an intensely crazy, busy life. But I don’t let the crazy get to me. As a matter of fact, it’s kind of silly to call it crazy, because it doesn’t feel that way. I’ve got four kids, my youngest is three. My oldest is turning 13. We homestead on 40 acres in the middle of nowhere Alaska on top of it. So we’ve got the crazy weather, the really cold winds coming in and the cold weather. It’s already freezing. We’re expecting snow for the first time tomorrow. By the time this recording goes live, we will absolutely have snow and the days are getting really short, meaning that we don’t have a lot of sunlight. So on top of all of that, I’ve got an amazing, incredible husband who has a full-time job. My kids are private school, but they are also dual-enrolled in homeschool. So there are things that I homeschool them on, particularly we do home-ec kind of things, but it’s very much like gardening. It’s… It’s very hands-on experiences. I teach them about herbs and harvesting from the earth. That kind of thing is very much involved in the home-ecke, as well as cooking. I teach them Spanish and a multitude of other things. Plus, we have sports. We’ve got gymnastics. My daughter is a competitor. She’s pretty up there and we have to travel a lot. We actually have to travel out of state even for her meets. So that’s really fun and interesting. We also have horseback riding for my daughter, gymnastics for my other daughter. My son does confirmation for church. We’re very much involved in our church life. And we just have so much not to mention that I have a multi-six figure company that I run by myself.
Okay, so hear me out. I’m saying I’ve got a crazy busy life. I got a lot of pieces that are going on, but it’s not crazy, especially this time of year. I used to get extremely stressed. Like I tell you, insanely stressed out. I was so stressed out that I would be exhausted, tearful, overwhelmed, and then in my life. up hating Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the birthday parties that ensue because we’ve got a lot of those coming up. And it was really intense. Every year I would tell myself that I would never ever do this again. I bet you can probably hear yourself saying those exact words too. And then I would repeat that literally every year until a few years ago. A few years ago, I was immensely stressed. It was Christmas Eve and my parents were coming over and I was trying everything I could to get the last minute gifts wrapped. My house was a disaster. I had Christmas Eve dinner that I had yet to even start and I had kids who needed baths and it was absolutely insane. And to top it off, my husband thought it would be a really great idea to go clean the basement. I know that you guys are probably laughing. Maybe you have husbands or partners who do the same thing when they get stressed out. They go find something that is completely irrelevant. Anyway, I was so stressed out and so upset and was like, “Honey, I need your help up here. We’ve got to start cooking.” I’ve got all this to take care of and I nearly passed out. Literally got very very ill. I lost my sight for a split second. I had to sit down I was shaking profusely and I had to gather myself. It was incredibly scary. I ended up having to go lay down for an entire hour while everybody kind of rambled around me trying to figure things out. And I told myself never, ever, ever again when I allow myself to be so stressed out that I neglected to feed myself. I was neglecting to breathe properly and I caused a storm within my body that was completely unacceptable. So never again, I was going to lay down some serious questions. Boundaries for myself, for my family, and for my life. So here’s what I did, and I want you to do the exact same if you feel that you are in this position of having all of these holiday expectations and you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything that’s going on.
Do not wait until it hurts you. I’m going to repeat that again, oftentimes we as women wait until the pain is so significant that we have no other choice but to do something about it. Don’t let yourself get that deep. If you are in a position where you are feeling overwhelmed and overcommitted and stressed out over the holidays, your time to do something about it is right now. Are you loving this podcast? I’m going to be real with you. Words of affirmation are my love language. And if you leave a review, I seriously want to express my appreciation for you. So here’s what you want to do. Leave a review here on Apple podcast or on our Facebook page, snap a photo and then send it to the email provided in the show notes and as a huge thank you, we’re gonna send you access to a library of exclusive trainings, paid content, and never before seen interviews that you don’t wanna miss. Thanks so, so, so much my friend from the bottom of my heart. So here’s what I did about this.
First off, I got really realistic. What is it that I don’t like about the holidays and this time of year? What do I need to let go of? What do I need to say no to? There was so much that I had to release. We have these expectations that we’re gonna do all of the things and so I had to reevaluate our traditions as a family. What is it that I want? What is it that I am here for and I want to be here for? And so things got really, really interesting. I will tell you, I decided that I’m no longer doing holiday cards. You will never get a holiday card from me. My husband had this huge work party that we used to always go to, and you have to dress up super fancy and eat a wonderful meal. And of course, it’s always a wonderful time. But there’s a lot of stress that comes with it. So what we decided to do is instead of going to this big work party, we’ll just go on a private date together. And that feels so much more aligned with who we are as people. We’re very, very introverted, believe it or not. I am a hardcore introvert. And it just, it reduces a lot of the stress we all give ourselves permission to skip sports practices during this time. And I plan really far ahead.
Right now, it’s October. And so I am already looking at what do I want to give this year to my family, to my extended family. And by the end of the month, I will probably have purchased everything and started crafting. So sometimes I’d like to make quilts and things for people I love. And so I will start that journey now and some of them have already been done. So that’s super exciting. But I already have that in my head. So by the time November mid-November rolls around, it’s done. And I don’t have to think twice about it. I can sit back and relax. So get realistic with yourself. What do you want? What do you need? Access where your needs are. What is it that you need during this time?
Now here’s another component. It’s really cold and it’s really dark here in Alaska. And so I noticed that during this time, even if holidays weren’t upon us, that I’m going to need a little extra TLC. I’m going to need a little bit more warmth, a little bit more outside time that is strategic, and a little bit more nourishment and time to myself, especially for naps. I give myself a lot of permission to take naps this time of year. It’s just so wonderful. There’s so and it’s such my personality like my idea of the perfect date is snuggled up on the couch watching a movie with slippers and a giant blanket. And some sipping some hot tea and some chocolates. That is the perfect, perfect time. So to give myself more of that during this stressful time makes everything so much less stressful. So do that for yourself. What is it that you need? What do you need to let go of? What do you need to say no to? Even if it’s somebody else’s holiday party, even if it’s a family gathering that happens every single year, there’s things that you can say no to, even if you think that it’s not okay. I swear to you, it totally is, okay? Here’s the other component.
I take a lot of time off. I take more time off during the holidays than most people do. I take a full week for Thanksgiving and I take two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight weeks for Christmas. And I give myself permission not to engage on social media and to do anything that I don’t want to. And I try really hard not to work during this time. I will tell you I’m not always successful. I am obsessed with my work. But I do make sure that I have a lot of extra downtime. I literally schedule in my downtime, my time where I do nothing. It’s literally in my calendar. Today I will do nothing and I get to sit and I get to read and I get to play games with my children and I just get to be and do whatever it is that I want without the need to have something done without the need to work. So if you’re that A-type personality like myself, where you have to schedule that in, do so, but give yourself some ample time off. Here’s the third thing.
We have a family meeting. This is really to bring in the idea of all of us matter, which we all do, what do we want for this year?
Not the material things, but how do we want to spend our time together? Because we have some extra time off, we have some amazing time that we get to spend together and we want to utilize it to the fullest extent. So we sit down and we think about what are some really fun things that we want to do together? And so sometimes it’s driving around a little late at night and looking at all of the beautiful Christmas lights that are lighting up certain neighborhoods. It’s not my neighborhood ’cause they really don’t live in a neighborhood and you can do that ’cause 48 farms don’t really do that. But we go explore other neighborhoods and it’s super fun and engaging. And sometimes they have like little light shows too that we can go to. We have every year where we go out and we find our own Christmas trees. So that’s really important to our community. And sometimes we’ll make an extra trip to like the arcade where something really fun and engaging that our whole entire family likes.
We also do family time with like gingerbread houses. Like those are standard things and we make a plan for it. And it’s so, so beautiful because everybody gets to participate. Everybody gets to share what it is that they want to do during that time together as a family, and it puts everybody on the same page. And I think this is so important when you are laying down boundaries is that you are communicating, here’s what we’re going to do, and here’s what we’re not going to do. And that everybody gets to chime in and talk about it.
That is so, so key to everybody having a peaceful, engaging time together where everybody’s needs are being met and no one is left out. And it’s important to lay some boundaries down. And I have four kids, so we are really particular. Everybody gets to pick one thing that they really want to do. And we might have a list of other things that would be super fun, or maybe we would want to do, but we’ll see how we all feel when that time comes. And that just frees up so much of the burden and the responsibility, right? So if you have lots of kids, maybe limit the number of things that you have so that they can pick one rather than, oh, if each kid picks five different things, now you have an incredible amount of things on your plate. But also just pick out some boundaries.
It’s maybe you are someone who doesn’t like to do late night things. You want everybody to be in bed at a certain time because that is your time and that is so legit and necessary. So maybe that is one of your boundaries. You let everybody know that this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to make sure everybody gets on bed on time because immune systems are lower, stress is high, and we just need some time to extra rest because there’s just so much on the plate. That is a completely really boundary to set. OK, so we’ve got assess and get realistic about where you are. Take some time off, have a family meeting. And here’s the other component. Write your boundaries down and know your non-negotiables. And I think this is so important because sometimes there is a need to be fluid and flexible. And as moms, we know this 110% because people get sick, plans change, things happen. And so we have to have this fluidity and this flexibility in order to be okay in the world. However, there are some things that are a non-negotiable.
I’ll give you a like a second one of one of mine. We have an immensely large extended family, all of which I’m super blessed to love immensely. So no awkward uncle meetings or great aunts or anything like that. But I have a very specific rule. When we meet with their family, which is a lot during the whole season, no one’s to be sick. I don’t want to be exposed to anybody who is sick, actively sick, right? And this used to be a thing where, you know, oh, somebody showed up and they had been throwing up the night before. And that was really frustrating to me because as a mom who works really hard on taking care of our bodies and having all of the other things to juggle, it’s kind of, you know, a given that people are going to get sick, but I don’t want to overly expose my family to certain things, the tummy bug being one of them. So I make sure that, hey, I’ve laid my boundaries down with my family, like, hey, if y’all are sick, just let us know. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to show up, but that means that we as a family might not. and that’s totally fine. It’s up to us to make that decision but just give us the courtesy and heads up before that happens. So that’s my non-negotiable. That’s one of my non-negotiable. So figure out what yours are and be really clear. Communicate those boundaries again. Write them down and when you exercise these boundaries, take note. Follow through with them and practice them. That’s how you become really good at it and that’s how other people start to truly honor your boundaries too.
If you’re a person who sets boundaries and then you are overly flexible with those boundaries, people will pick up on that, whether it’s overly flexible with yourself or if you’re overly flexible with other people. Thank you. They see that, they’re less inclined to follow through with that. So it’s very, very important that you speak up and you lead by example and say, “Nope, this was a boundary and I have to respect that.” And when you do that, other people are more inclined to respect that as well. So what will you do if someone in your family, a violent, violates your boundaries? This is a really big one. Now, sometimes it’s not just family, sometimes it’s friends, sometimes it’s the extended family, sometimes it’s the uncle or the great aunt who doesn’t necessarily listen to your boundaries.
The first thing I always recommend is make sure that you communicated that and reiterate what your boundaries are. And secondly, don’t… don’t allow yourself to be in a position to have to put those boundaries up if they are always being knocked over. So for example, if great aunt comes over and she has a boundary that she is pushing on you that you don’t find acceptable and you’ve communicated that effectively to her and reiterated that to her and she’s no longer coming. It’s plain and simple. and sometimes that brings out their own riffs and family troubles but you know what when you are so set and what it is that is important to you and you are clear in your mind and body that no this needs to happen this is too much it is unacceptable then it becomes everyone else’s problem and not your own.
So be really really clear and figure out what are you gonna do when that awkward moment comes up, when somebody does violate your boundaries? If it happens at all, what are you gonna do? So that’s always really important to look through and figure out those things and have those conversations with your partner or your spouse because oftentimes they’re a support system for you. So be really, really clear and figure out what are you gonna do.
So maybe it’s not you communicating that, maybe it’s your husband reiterating that important boundaries so that person knows, or instead they’re the ones having the conversation and making sure that you just simply steer clear of that person, like they’re always being redirected by your husband or your partner. And that helps you maintain your stress levels to something that feels… really good, i.e. non-existent. So I hope this has been incredibly helpful for you in moving forward with living a stress-free holiday season. There is so much that happens during this time. There’s so many obligations that we place on ourselves and so many obligations that others are allowed to place on us.
And I think it’s time to say goodbye. I think it’s time to step back and say no more. I get to choose what is right for myself and my family, and we get to make those choices together. And we’re going to have an amazing time every single holiday year, because that’s what it’s about. It’s about spending time with your loved ones. It’s about the love that we can share together. It’s about giving from our hearts. And if your heart is stressed, out, it’s really not a great place to be. It’s really not. It’s really not healthy. And it’s really not helpful. So let’s make some changes and adjustments. And let’s make this holiday year your absolute best.
Love this episode. Let us know by leaving an amazing review. Your support is everything. Want more? Head over to postpartumu.com. That’s postpartum, the letteru.com, and explore how we support moms like you in holistic whole body healing that’s specific for the unique needs of mamas in the years postpartum. See you there.
- Grab your FREE Provider's Postpartum Nutrition Toolkit
18 pages of PDF handouts that serve as your comprehensive resource for delivering whole-body nutrition care and achieving better health outcomes for the families you support.
- Learn what your symptoms really mean with our Postpartum Health Assessment
Postpartum depression, anxiety, depletion, and autoimmune issues have become a new normal.
Take the most comprehensive postpartum assessment to discover what your symptoms are telling you and even more importantly, what you can do to fix it for good.
- Get started on the path to holistic recovery with the Postpartum Nutrition Repletion Plan
- Come hang out with us on Instagram!
Feeling inspired and ready to learn more about how you can actively revolutionize postpartum care?
- Learn about the Postpartum University Professional Membership
- Stay in the loop about the Postpartum Nutrition Certification Program
- Check out our courses in Postpartum Mental Health, Postpartum Nutrition, and Herbal Care