Thanksgiving is over! Now you can... relax? If you're like many of us in the United States, the end of Thanksgiving signals the beginning of... the next, very busy, often hectic, holiday season. From the end of November to the beginning of January, we are hurled into a mix of celebrating and long list of to-dos that can make anyone weary -- but even more so if you're pregnant during this time.
The good news is that there's a growing movement towards minimalism -- doing and consuming less while enjoying more. The principles of minimalism can be a wonderful and welcome addition to your holiday season. What better time to start doing and buying less than a time when your body is taking on so much more.
It can be hard to change your routine and habits in order to pare down the holiday season, but the benefits during pregnancy (and beyond!) far outweigh any of the potential downsides. To help you get started -- er, rather, get started slowing down, we've prepared a few simple tips.
Buy less. Gift giving is fun, but it can become stressful when it is overdone and strains your finances and mental health. Figure out in advance what you are willing to give, what you are able to give, and what you want to give. If it's a deviation from previous years, that's ok. If you feel the need to explain, you can let others know that you're simplifying your holiday season this year. Consider giving the gift of time and friendship, like meeting someone for a movie, or going out to dinner (bonus - no cooking involved!).
Plan, prepare, and make lists. The more you can do to organize and make your holiday season more efficient, the less likely you'll run into a constant state of rushing and last-minuteness. Use your smart phone to make lists, set reminders, and update your calendar. There are great apps created just for the holiday season that can help you organize gift giving and celebration planning. When you plan, consider the time you'll need for shopping, meal prepping, holiday cards (if that's part of your tradition), house cleaning (if you're hosting an event), and more.
Delegate. There is always something on your list that can be handed off. Whether you involve your partner more than usual this year, take a friend up on her offer to help out, or hire a personal shopping assistant -- get help and don't feel guilty for asking! This is a popular time of year to hire out housecleaning, too!
Relish in the little things you actually enjoy. Do you gift wrap better than Martha Stewart? Are you an expert at finding just the right gift? Do you bake the world's best cookies? Enjoy the little things that bring as much joy to you as they do to your recipients.
Ask for help. If you're in charge of hosting friends and family for a gathering, ASK FOR HELP. Whether pregnant or not, planning a big social function is a lot of work to do alone. Whether you involve those closest to you or hire out help (think cleaning service, catering, purchasing store-bought pies from your favorite bakery instead of making them yourself), save yourself time and effort by asking for help and delegating tasks.
Change up the tradition. Do you usually host a party for 40 of your closest friends every year in December? Go out for dinner this year instead! Or, suggest attending a holiday concert or botanical garden outing together.
Be an attendee instead of host. Take a rain check on hosting the festivities this year -- let others invite you this year. You may miss being the host, but you'll be thankful for the respite.
Mindful Time Out
Schedule time for you. Be proactive and intentional about scheduling downtime. Whether it's a nap, time to read your favorite magazine, or a weekly prenatal exercise class, it's important to make time just for you.
Volunteer. If your energy permits, find ways to actively give back to others less fortunate this season. Doing so is a good way to remind yourself of what's most important during the season. If you want to give back but your energy is tanked, make monetary donations instead.
Choose stress-busting activities. Yoga, meditation, exercise, time spent with a good friend, reading, hobbies like knitting or crafting, and coloring are just a few of the many ways you can engage in non-holiday related, stress-reducing activities.