I’m not sure exactly how it happens. But we are all enjoying some leftover Halloween Butterfingers, a steaming cup of fall apple cider and a walk in the foliage and then OH MY GOD THANKSGIVING IS LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY AND HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HOST THANKSGIVING, ORDER YOUR HOLIDAY CARDS, BUY GIFTS, DECORATE YOUR HOUSE, TIP ENDLESS PEOPLE, PLAN A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR ONE OF YOUR KIDS AND I THINK I’M HAVING AN ANXIETY ATTACK.
Because I want to make your life better and calmer, I’m here to give you some suggestions. I would have called this post 9 Ways to Calm Your Sh*t Down This Holiday Season but I recently made fun of all the lists out there and it seems a hair too soon to be hypocritical. So follow these steps and get ready to get calm….
Pinterest is Dead to You (for the Holiday Season)
You know what happens to the mind when you see stuff like this…
Courtesy of Dining Delight
You begin to feel very mediocre and inferior. That doesn’t sound festive or fun! STAY OFF PINTEREST.
Develop Calming Strategies
When you feel that paralyzing anxiety that prevents you from doing anything productive, take a look at things like this…
Oh my gosh, how can you be stressed when you see PUPPIES!!
Or if you aren’t a dog person, how about this…
Or maybe this…
Or maybe this is more your thing…
Find calming, stress reducing images and stare at them while taking 10 deep breaths.
There is No Award for Getting It All Done Quickly
I once received someone’s Christmas card the day after Thanksgiving. It just made me mad that they were so efficient. You don’t want to make people mad do you? So take your time. Holiday cards received on January 5th are just as special as ones received earlier. Or stand out and send your cards on Arbor Day. Or even easier, slap a family photo on Facebook and bam – you’re done. What’s the point of technology if we don’t take advantage of it?!
Do the Worst Job First
Think of the thing you are most stressed about. It’s different for everyone. Maybe it’s figuring out all those tips. How much to give? Who to give it to? Wouldn’t it just be easier to hand out $20 to every person you see from Thanksgiving to New Year’s? Or maybe it’s figuring out what to feed all the people that are about to descend on your house. Whatever it is – do it first.
There is something so liberating about getting a crap job off your “to do” list. It will actually lower your anxiety level, freeing up energy to get other stuff done.
Do Volunteer Work
I know what you’re thinking… I just cut 250 turkey feathers for the Thanksgiving feast craft project! I have 3 paper cuts and no longer have any feeling in my fingertips – why would I need to do MORE volunteer work? But forget the PTA for a minute, grab your kids and go volunteer for a soup kitchen, collect food for hungry children or pick up litter.
There is something so wonderful about getting out of your own head and just doing something for someone else. And you will also be role modeling the kind of person you hope your kids turn out to be.
Make a Gratitude List
This will take ONE minute and you can write anything you want. You can be grateful for your family, the fact that you live in a world where your DVR can record 3 shows at the same time, Jimmy Fallon or that your grocery store is once again carrying that pumpkin spice creamer you love so much.
When you remind yourself of all the amazing things in your life, you stop freaking out so much about how you are going to make a turkey for 23 houseguests. (By the way, I have no idea how you make a turkey for 23 houseguests. You’re going to have to find a different blog for that.)
There is No Shame in Buying
Don’t remake the gravy three times from scratch. Buy it and be done with it. Trust me, you’ll have plenty of time in January to perfect your cooking skills when it’s cold and dark by 4:23 pm.
Get your Soul Cycle, Crossfit, Orangetheory or Zumba on. Go for a crisp fall walk. Play a tennis game. Put on yoga clothes and pretend you worked out. Whatever works. When you get your body moving, your head always appreciates it.
Final Stress Reliever!
See? You’re calm. Now go kick some holiday ass.
There are certain awkward moments in life. Like when a guy-you-used-to-date sends you a LinkedIn request.
Because we all want an opportunity to reconnect with our past romances and endorse their digital media and business development skills on the networking site.
Or when you’re playing tennis and somehow your sports bra comes undone. Why would this happen? I’ve never seen this go on at Wimbledon.
I’ve been trying to play more tennis because it’s good exercise, it’s fun and it keeps me close to my Connecticut upbringing – a state in which they require every child to learn at least some kind of tennis proficiency.
I finally found some ladies to play with and was playing last week with one of them. She’s a very nice woman who I hardly know. And then suddenly my bra snaps apart and no amount of awkward maneuvering could get it back to gather.
In case you think I’m a total train wreck – this wasn’t a normal bra clasp. It was some kind of mini clasp that I can’t reattach when I’m wearing the bra.
(Right now, every high school guy is nodding this head and thinking, “Those bras are harder than they look!” Okay, no high school boys read this blog but if they did, they would totally be relating right now.)
Alright, I know you are all thinking about hot high school guys now…
But let’s try to refocus.
So after admitting to my tennis partner that my bra had come undone and holding up the game while I attempted to jerry-rig it back together, I gave up and said, “I hate to ask you this but is there any change you could refasten my bra?”
Let me review a few things…
1. I barely know this woman.
2. I’m sweaty.
3. I’m asking her to re-hook my bra in the middle of a tennis game.
Because she is probably the nicest person ever, she does it for me and we are able to resume our game. I’m trying to suppress my memory of this whole experience. Obviously she is too.
Finally moment of awkwardness… seeing Kim Kardashian’s very shiny tush on the internet. I wrote about it on Lifetime Moms. I think even her toddler daughter North is shaking her head in disbelief.
Okay, I can’t leave you with that. So I’ll leave you with this…
There is something about growing older that can make one feel more fearful. Instead of a youthful exuberance to bungee jump across Europe, you suddenly find yourself sitting down with a guy named Hank to compare life insurance plans – just in case you really do get hit by a bus when you go out to get your mail.
Maybe it’s that you have more to lose than you did when you were 20. Or maybe because you were a size 4 with tight abs and no neck wrinkles so you thought you were untouchable. Maybe the world seemed so wide open with possibilities that you wouldn’t have even considered limiting your options in any way.
I’ll admit – even when I was young I wasn’t the “jump out of an airplane” kind of girl. But I was certainly more daring.
I didn’t worry much about anyone but myself. Now I worry constantly about these little people that are all over my house. Am I giving them a good life? Am I raising them to be kind, compassionate people? Am I to blame that one of them is standing on top of the roof of the minivan having a sword fight? Stuff like that.
Somehow as we age, we start shutting ourselves off to possibilities. We think – hey, maybe I can control my fate if I’m just a bit more careful. But I’ve actually heard that we can’t actually control the world which is sort of lame but certainly noteworthy. So I thought to myself – maybe it’s time to do a bit more leaping.
Which is how I found myself at the top of a trapeze last weekend. I did the trapeze about 10 years ago in New Paltz, New York and I did not particularly like it.
So why was I back a decade later?! Because I have a 7 and 10 year old daughter and they wanted me to do it while we were on vacation at Club Med. And if I couldn’t be brave for myself, I could at least be courageous for them.
Plus, when we live our lives being too afraid, we start losing ourselves. Oh and my mother-in-law got up there and swung from the trapeze so I didn’t want her to think her son was married to some kind of pathetic wimp.
So I did it…
Okay, it’s not a high flying Cirque du Soleil trapeze performance but it was scary to climb up the ladder and jump off from that plank of death up there.
And I showed my girls that in life you push through fear and go for it. Because taking the leap is what life is all about.
An no, you won’t find me jumping out of an airplane.
Or bungee jumping across Europe.
But sword fighting on top of my minivan is definitely a possibility.
I have never had one bit of interest in cars. I mean, except learning to drive one when I turned 16. And I was also very interested in getting myself into a Jeep Wrangler when I was in my 20’s so I could have the sun on my face, the wind in my hair and the pouring rain on my head when I couldn’t get the top up in time.
I now drive a gold minivan which I pretend is just a very large mini cooper. When I take my car in to the shop, they talk about “transmission fluid and gaskets and tire rotations” and I hear “This is going to cost a lot of money. How is Ryan Gosling so hot and so talented at the same time? I wonder how long my car is going to be in the shop because I have school pick up at 2.” That kind of thing.
In general the only time I ever think about cars is when I listen to “Car Talk” on NPR. The show, featuring two Cambridge, Massachusetts brothers, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, has been airing on NPR since 1987.
Recently Tom Magliozzi passed away from complications due to Alzheimer’s. And I can’t help escape the feeling that the world feels a little emptier. Certainly more quiet. Because Tom had a laugh that was so compelling – you had to join in.
The show’s long time producer Doug Berman had this to say about him…
“His laugh was so great and infectious. It just made everyone around him feel better. It was such a gift. He had a way of making everyone around him feel good and when you put him in front of a microphone, millions of people felt better and I think that’s a great legacy.”
(If you’ve never listened to the show, stop reading immediately, download the NPR app and listen to one of the podcasts.)
The two brothers went to MIT and ended up running their own “Do It Yourself” auto mechanic shop in the 70’s where they would help people fix their own cars. (It sounds like a crazy idea but the 70’s were a very “How hard can it be to fix your own car radiator?!” kind of time.
What the Magliozzi brothers quickly learned was they were doing all the work, they weren’t making any money and the garage finally transitioned into a more traditional auto shop.
It was an appearance by Tom on a Boston radio station that turned into a local show which was eventually picked up by NPR and loved by millions.
The brothers were brilliant at being themselves and not taking life too seriously. Tom would give out advice like…
“Do it while you’re young. You may never have another chance to do anything this stupid again!”
Their NPR show was about cars. And it wasn’t. There were a lot of tangents, diversions and comedic banter. You didn’t even have to own a car or care about cars to adore these two guys. As a listener, you were just along for the ride – wherever it might go.
Previously recorded episodes of “Car Talk” are still on the air.
The thing about parenthood is that you usually feel like you are doing it wrong. Before kids, you have some kind of confidence in your abilities to navigate life. You think to yourself, “Hey, I have a job! I show up on time. My shirt is reasonably clean. I pay my rent. I eat pretty good food. I get to the gym sort of regularly. I’m kicking ass in this life thing.”
Then one day you have a baby. And life gets strangely hard. You are no longer on time, you are eating leftover chicken nuggets for breakfast and by 4 in the afternoon, you are still wearing pajamas. What the hell happened?!
Luckily, there are lots of resources for getting your life back on track. A quick google search will tell you how to get your baby sleeping better, eating better and doing whatever else better.
And as your child grows – there are even more tips and advice (usually in number form like… “The top 5 ways to manage your kids screen time!” or “The top 10 biggest mistakes when it comes to helping your kids with their homework” or “Six reasons why you should let your kids fail or else you will raise the biggest losers of all time”).
And if you click on these lists (which you probably will because those links are like crack cocaine for parents), you will read through some mediocre or maybe helpful advice which will make you feel like you are doing this parenting thing wrong.
I have many downfalls as a parent (I’d like to yell less, not worry about the mess so much and put my phone away even more) but overall I really love my kids an insane amount and think they are turning out pretty awesome. So I don’t want to constantly hear about how I’m failing all the time.
Which is why I felt a great sense of relief and happiness when I read the following quote from comedian Jim Gaffigan…
“I love being a parent and enjoy finding the humor in parenting. If you complain about how you spend your Saturdays taking your kid to birthday parties, that means you are taking your kid to birthday parties. If you complain about how hard it is to get your kid to read, it means you are trying to get your kid to read. If you are complaining about your kid not helping around the house, that means you have a fat, lazy kid. You joke about it. That’s how you deal. If parents don’t like being a parent, they don’t talk about being a parent. They are absent. And probably having a great time somewhere.”
So my friends, if you are complaining about your kids because your toddler washed his hands in toilet bowl water this morning or your 4th grader was sobbing because she got 3 minutes less of screen time than her sibling or because your kids were squabbling over who got which chair at dinner time or because someone was singing too loudly for someone else or because one certain child said, “I’m hungry” for 14 straight minutes in the car – THEN YOU ARE DOING THIS PARENTING THING RIGHT.
It means you are involved. You are passionate. You are present. You love them madly. And your kids sometimes drive you crazy.
It means you are kicking ass at being a parent.