The more the stores and commercials ramp up the message the holidays are coming, the more stressed you can get. November is the worst. That’s the time when mothers feel they can’t get everything done. This is not to say men can’t decorate, shop for gifts, wrap presents and prepare appetizers for 40 during the holiday season. It’s to say that it so often falls on the female to-do list. So, this article is dedicated to the women who have too much on their plate.
It takes some special tips to mesh work and motherhood and the holidays. If you’ve ever thought you could be more productive or take a more organized approach, now is the time to get it in gear.
The key to not losing your mind in November and December is to create a master plan for meshing home and work items. There are four key components to this: list making, planning ahead, scheduling your day and outsourcing.
Hopefully you are already a list maker to some extent. It might be just a grocery list but you can take any list making and expand it to really help you.
Grab your favorite beverage and list making tool. Honestly, a pencil and pad of paper might be the easiest way to add, cross off and move items but if you want to go electronic, feel free. The exercise of sitting down and doing this will take 30 minutes to an hour but you will thank your lucky stars you did so.
Keep in mind you’ll want to focus on items that must be done before the New Year. It’s okay to have a “wish list” of items you wish you could get around to- like installing a new mailbox- but unless yours is crushed, it can wait until January. Be picky.
Start with work.Due to year-end budgets or annual goals, there is often a push to wrap up things by year end or bring in new clients before then.What kinds of goals were set that you need to meet in the next 60 days? This certainly needs to be priority one. Mentally go over what happens at the year end. Do you need to finish projects? Complete annual reports? Set up first quarter marketing for the next year? Create a great list. Use subcategories to put like items together. Finish this list by prioritizing the items.
Make a List for Home. There are always more things to do at home than hours in the day so I know you have them in your head. Take a moment to get them on to your list.Keep in mind you are focusing on what needs to be done now or soon. Anything that can wait needs to wait. Some of the kinds of things you might have on your list: having firewood delivered, getting the leaves cleaned up, shampooing the carpets, taking down Halloween decorations and so forth. If it is regular daily cleaning, laundry and cooking, don’t write it down. Just keep up your routine.
Being uber organized will relieve a lot of your stress even if it isn’t your cup of tea the rest of the year. Grab your planner or calendar.
- Start by inserting any special events into your calendar. If you don’t know the date, look online or email/text someone who does. The kinds of things you’ll want to include are: work holiday party, church plays, concerts, choirs, rehearsals, holiday gatherings for scout troops or sports teams, family gatherings and parties you are attending or hosting. Don’t get caught off guard.
- Prior to each of those dates on your calendar, note anything you need to buy, make, find, beg or borrow to make those events happen so you won’t be without or forget.
- Now that you’ve got important dates blocked off, begin inserting your to-do items, from your many lists, into the weeks available on your calendar. Start with work. Divide up the tasks that need to be done before year-end so you can spread them out.
- Divide up the home and holiday to-do lists among your calendar. Keep in mind the more home items you can knock off the list in November, the more you can concentrate on holiday items in December- such as decorating and baking which you may not want to do too early.
Scheduling Your Day
You now have a master to-do list for each week that contains work items, holiday things, home chores and kid-related stuff. Based on priorities, make a list for the day. What are the most important things to have done by the end of the week? If you can get your work done and tackle a couple personal items each day, you’ll be knocking the list down in no time at all.
One favorite reminder is you don’t have to do it all! Remind yourself that behind the scenes, all the famous cooks and home décor gurus on TV have a ton of people off camera that get things done. Even if your budget is tight, you can pick one thing to help you out. Maybe just having a house cleaner come can save your day?
At work, take a moment to think what you can outsource off that year-end list. Is there someone you can assign something to? Can you bring in a temp worker? Can you use a professional organizer? How about a personal shopper to take care of gifts for clients or employees? Try to move something to someone else.
Here is a buffet of outsourcing ideas:
Personal Shopper:Can take your gift list and fulfill it.
Professional Organizer:Will get all that stuff in the house whipped into shape.
Lawn Service:Can spiffy up the yard and banish the leaves.
Concierge Service:Will do all your errands from picking up dog food, to taking the dry cleaning, to dropping off shoes to be repaired to getting 400 copies made.
Use an App: Apps like TaskRabbitor NextDoor can connect you with handymen to fix things or babysitters or places locally to get firewood. They can even find someone to put up your tree if you don’t find that fun.
Handyman:Make a list of all the wish items for your house then give the list to a handyman. From replacing hard to reach lightbulbs to painting the front door to assembling furniture (or a holiday gift!) to fixing the broken hinge on a kitchen cabinet. Just get it all done at once.
Caterer or Restaurant Food:If you don’t wait until the last minute, you can order food for your party or big family gathering. Give yourself a break. Maybe you can make your favorite entrée and a cake then order all the sides? Everyone wants to eat and they honestly don’t care if you made it or not.
Outsourcing the things that stress you out plus planning ahead is the greatest gift you can give yourself.