StressLess Holidays: Post-Holiday Debriefing — 10 Minutes, 4 Questions

StressLess Holidays: Post-Holiday Debriefing -- 10 Minutes, 4 Questions

Invest 10 minutes to make your next holiday StressLess!

“Did you have a nice holiday?”      “How was your Thanksgiving?”      “Did you have a good Christmas?”

Everywhere you go this time of year, someone is either wishing you a happy holiday or asking how your holiday went. We usually answer the latter with an automatic “Very nice!” or “Great!”, but there is a lot of value in spending a few minutes alone with that question and answering it more deeply.

I know you are busy today. Most of us are simultaneously relaunching our regular workaday lives and trying to gear up for the holiday for which Thanksgiving threatens to become a mere prelude. But could you find a way to take 10 minutes to sit quietly with a pencil and paper (and maybe a cuppa) just to think a little? Here are four questions to help you stress less during the next go-round:

  1. How did you feel during the holiday? Peaceful? Stressed? Happy? Resentful? Joyful? Exhausted? Exhilarated? Frustrated? Relaxed? How about the rest of the people in your orbit?
  2. What didn’t go so well? Food plans too elaborate? Schedule too packed? Not enough pauses for naps, exercise, prayer? Or, Aunt Winifred fought with Aunt Prunella? Not enough chairs to go around? Forgot to pack extra diapers? Nobody liked the new dessert we tried (and need more pecan pie!)? Long travel day left kids exhausted?
  3. What worked great? Make-ahead turkey freed oven for other cooking? Ditching the kids-table and mixing ages got all generations interacting? Post-meal walk suggestion proved popular? Everybody raved about your sweet potatoes?
  4. What can I do to make the next holiday StressLess?
    • When it comes to what others control or what affects the group, think in terms of nudging: Give Aunt Winifred plenty of tasks to help her feel needed, and seat her far away from poor Aunt P. Ask if the mealtime might be adjusted from 2 pm to noon or 1 o’clock to allow littles to get a nap afterward.
    • When it comes to what you control, you can make bigger changes faster: Sacrifice some of the afternoon fun and games to withdraw to a bedroom with your toddler for a rest. Go outside every couple of hours for a ten-minute breather. Give new recipes a test-run before the big meal. Round up some extra folding chairs. Simplify the menu — make more of fewer items.
    • When it comes things that can’t be changed, work on your attitude: Recognize how much you set the tone for the rest of the family, and lead by example. Realize it’s only a meal, it’s only a day, it’s only a weekend, and nobody will die from missing a nap or having to wear a tea towel for a diaper. Count your blessings — everybody has ’em. And, try to forgive Aunt Winifred for being Aunt Winifred.

So, how was your holiday? Share the good, the bad, and the ugly here!

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6 Comments

  1. Posted December 1, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    My notes:
    How did I feel? I felt great – it was a lovely and satisfying day together. I didn’t feel harried during the prep despite the fact that I went to the grocery store on the SATURDAY (gasp!) before Tgiving week for the supplies. I did a little cooking on Monday (cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole; it was a lovely, warm day so I wanted to work outside), a lot of cooking on Tuesday, and a little cooking on Wednesday.
    What didn’t go well? I wish there was a way to quickly and graciously turn the temporary dining room back into a partial living room after the main meal. I feel like there aren’t good places to relax with more comfortable seating.
    What went well? I liked having the late afternoon snacks, although we could have done with a little less. We need a cheese/bologna platter w/ crackers, some fruit, some pickles, and a healthier thing with a dippy-something. No need for sweets – there is plenty of dessert still available. We’ve learned we can accommodate 18 comfortably, but 20 is really pushing it. I love that everything was made ahead except the dumplings and the gravy! Alyssa’s decorations were spot-on. I liked having the puzzle in the kitchen, the games at the real dining room table, and conversation in the LR. That was nice.
    Changes for next time: See above re snacks. I’d like to add doing the turkey to my part of the work – that’ll be once less thing on Mom’s plate. I’d like to keep the numbers slightly lower if we can – my crew prefers that, although they ended up enjoying the day just fine.
    Lori recently posted..Flow: Lose Yourself in Something Now and ThenMy Profile

  2. Sylvia
    Posted December 1, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    I think next year I will skip the fall on the kitchen floor in front of 10 20-somethings on Wednesday night – that really didn’t work well for me or for my ankle. 😉

    We had Thanksgiving day dinner here for the first time ever – just us, minus the son and daughter-in-law. Another big dinner in AL on Friday.

    Less stressful this year than others, but soooo much I could do to make it even easier if I could get my act together.

    • Posted December 2, 2014 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Injuries fall into the last category of no control, I know, but they can be hard to bear. God bless you, my friend, and I hope next year will see you sailing through your preparations!
      Lori recently posted..Kiss in Front of Your KidsMy Profile

      • Sylvia
        Posted December 2, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        Oh, my ankle wasn’t hurt worse than my dignity. 😉

  3. Susan McKee
    Posted December 2, 2014 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I like your flow. It seems soothing to me. Even an article about stress!
    Our Thanksgiving Day was much different than usual. It started out with getting up at o400
    to catch a flight to B-ham out of Baltimore and we missed it by about 5 minutes. The gate was already
    closed. They put us on standby for a later flight. David had booked the earlier flight because it was
    cheaper. We did get cleared for that flight and without any more money, made it to B-ham an hour and a half earlier than we would have with the flight missed since it connected in Chicago and the flight we got was non stop. How’s that for being late but ending up early!
    The others ( David’s mother, sister and brother ( and sister in law) did the cooking. We enjoyed talking, and playing Mexican dominoes and catching up with everyone. Looking forward to more of your post.

    • Posted December 2, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      It seems it’s rare to hear a POSITIVE air travel story around the holidays, Susan — so glad it happened to YOU! I haven’t been a non-cooking guests at a Thanksgiving dinner since I was expecting our 26 year-old, so I imagine it would seem odd to me, too.
      Lori recently posted..Parenting for Lazy People: The Napping House, Part IIMy Profile

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