This Thanksgiving, Develop an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’
As we turn the calendar to “November,” many of us immediately think of Thanksgiving and the ensuing period of inevitable holiday stress. It doesn’t matter how much you love the holidays, it’s hard not to get stressed out when we add to our already hectic daily routines the additional efforts involved in preparing for holiday meals, guests, parties, and Christmas shopping.
Last year I attempted to offer some tangible steps for dealing with the holiday stress. This year, I’d like to get a little “new age-y” on you and focus on some more intangible ways you can remain calm amidst the holiday frenzy by truly giving thanks this Thanksgiving and developing an “attitude of gratitude.”
Write it down.
A dear friend of mine says she has been able to retain her sanity during some very challenging times by keeping what she calls a “positivity journal.” Every night before she goes to bed, she writes down at least one positive thing that happened during the day. As the saying goes, at least according to the memes I’ve seen on Instagram, “There is always, always, always something to be grateful for.” Taking the time to focus on the good things in life can help make the hard things seem less daunting.
The two M’s: Mindfulness and Meditation.
While keeping a positivity journal is one way to practice the concept of “mindfulness,” meditation is another. I know that Mindfulness and Meditation are both very new age-y sounding words, but they really are not all that “far out.”
Mindfulness is just a way of taking control of your own thoughts, making a concerted effort to focus on the present moment while pushing away concerns and stressful thoughts. Meditation basically just involves relaxing for a short period of time. If you can get comfortable, close your eyes, and just focus on your breathing for a few moments each day, it can be a great escape from the concerns and stressors that may seem to have taken over your brain.
(Tip: if you have a Fitbit Charge 2, select the “Relax” option and follow the instructions for either two minutes or five minutes of guided breathing exercises. Voila! You’re meditating!)
Some people like to repeat a positive word or phrase in their mind as they meditate. Maybe saying “thank you” or “gratitude” would help you shift your focus to something positive, if only for a few moments. Voila! That’s “mindfulness!”
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of taking for granted all the good things in our lives, when in reality, there are so many people out there who are dealing with much worse. Although of course we know we should be helping the less fortunate all year long, there seem to be more opportunities to do so during the holiday season. If you can volunteer to do something like help collect food for your food bank, ring a bell for the Salvation Army, participate in a toy drive, or serve lunch in a homeless shelter, it will not only spread hope and compassion to someone who needs it, it will help you feel good about yourself and will serve as a good reminder that you have a lot to be thankful for in your own life.
If you can develop an attitude of gratitude during this season of Thanksgiving and keep it throughout the year, research shows you will probably be healthier, more productive, and happier in the long run.
Of course, you can’t rely on mindfulness and attitude to completely alleviate all your stress this holiday season, so let me offer you one tangible tip: Before you host your Thanksgiving dinner or your holiday party this year, call Immaculate Clean to schedule a Holiday Clean! Just think about how thankful you’ll be for your clean home!
On Mother’s Day, Give Mom What She REALLY WantsOf all the Hallmark holidays, Mother’s Day is arguably the most important. That’s because moms are so easily under-appreciated and taken for granted the rest of the year. Whether you are a mom, have a mom, or are married to a mom, you probably don’t really think too much about just how much moms do every day for our families.
The Mental LoadToo often, aside from the day-to-day mothering activities, moms are shouldering an extra burden that tends to go overlooked. That is the burden of the Mental Load, that invisible responsibility we moms tend to take on for keeping track of all of the logistical necessities that keep a household running smoothly. You know what I mean: Who is the one person in your family who sets up all of the kids’ doctor appointments, who keeps track of the field trips and permission slips, who arranges the babysitters, who remembers to feed the dog or buy the toilet paper, who knows things like where the scissors are, or when the first day of school is, or when the last time the sheets have been washed, or when Aunt Mary’s birthday is? Even if you have a supportive spouse who helps out around the house a lot, the mom is too often still the one doing all of the directing and managing, usually on top of her “real” job and all of the “regular” mom duties involved in keeping children alive… Seriously, the role of carrying the Mental Load in a family is nothing to sneeze at, and most of us—moms included—have never really even given it a second thought.
All Moms Want the Same ThingSo this Mother’s Day, which is Sunday, May 13, if you truly want to show your favorite mom how much you appreciate everything they do, seen and unseen, I’m going to offer you the only gift suggestion you’ll ever really need. Hallmark may not like this too much, because it’s not something you can find in their greeting card racks. It’s also not flowers, or chocolate, or jewelry—although all of these things are lovely and would make a fine secondary gift. Take it from a mom: The number one thing ALL of us want and deserve this Mother’s Day is a four-letter word: TIME.
Different Kinds of TimeHere’s the tricky part. The KIND of time a mom needs will vary depending on the phase of motherhood she is in. The mom of a baby or a toddler might just really need some alone time, ie., a chance to go to the bathroom by herself, take an uninterrupted nap, get her nails done, or even go to Target or the Mall without having to drag along a diaper bag, a car seat, a stroller, and a wriggly, energetic kiddo. Or, maybe what she’s really wanting is some couple time: a time to reconnect with the father of her children, to go on a date, to have an excuse to put on nice clothes and make-up and laugh and not have to cook or discipline children or even be the one to arrange the sitter. If her kids are teens or if she’s an empty nester, maybe what she’s really craving is quality family time—a chance to enjoy just being with the children that aren’t around as much as they used to be. That kind of togetherness can come in the form of a meal together, a game night, a hike, a movie, whatever—it doesn’t really matter. After all the time they’ve spent on you over the years, moms deserve some of your undivided attention for a few hours. So, there you go: I’ve given you the key to the perfect Mother’s Day gift. Your mission now is to figure out what kind of time the mom(s) in your life really want this year, and come up with a plan to give that to them. One easy way you can literally buy mom some time this year is to let her off the hook for at least one good house cleaning. To that end, Immaculate Clean is offering a $65 off special for the month of May for all moms and moms-to-be! Give them a call at (410) 549-0727 to set it up, then send Mom out to enjoy whatever kind of time she will appreciate the most!
5 Tips for Tackling Your Holiday To-Do ListIf you read my blog post last month, https://immaculateclean.com/blog/tis-the-season-for-holiday-stress/ you already know that I have been stressing about this year’s Christmas preparations since before Halloween. After much careful analysis, I’ve concluded that most of that stress is due to the fact that the holiday “To-Do” list in our house looks much like this:
Wife’s Christmas To-Do List
- Fill Advent Calendar
- Have Christmas Card photo made
- Order Christmas Cards
- Address and mail Christmas Cards
- Water Christmas tree (daily)
- Move Elf-on-the-Shelf (nightly)
- Shop for Kid 1
- Shop for Kid 2
- Shop for Husband
- Shop for Mom
- Shop for Dad
- Shop for Mother-in-Law
- Shop for Brother
- Shop for Sister-in-Law
- Shop for Brother-in-Law
- Shop for Nephews
- Shop for Nieces
- Shop for Teacher
- Shop for Mailman
- Shop for Toys-for-Tots drive
- Shop for Boss
- Shop for Dog
- Shop for Best Friend
- Shop for Neighbor
- Wrap presents
- Hide presents
- Buy outfit for holiday party #1
- Buy outfit for holiday party #2
- Bake cookies
- Cook/clean for holiday guests
Husband’s Christmas To-Do List:
- Shop for Wife
- WRITE IT ALL DOWN. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Lists are the key to keeping yourself organized and remaining calm. Although a list like the one above might fill you with a wee bit of panic at first glance, it sure beats floating through your days wondering whether you’re forgetting to do something important. Plus, I’m all about that little dopamine rush that comes from crossing an item off of the list.
- SET AN EARLY DEADLINE. As a serial procrastinator, this was a hard lesson for me to learn, but after being burned by too many Christmas “emergencies,” including things like sick kids or snow days, I now set a drop-dead date for myself of December 20th for all shopping to be done and gifts to be wrapped. Without the last-minute shopping pressure, you might actually be able to relax a little bit and enjoy the last few days of the season.
- SET THE MOOD. Although I’m a Grinch when it comes to stores decking the halls in mid-October or TV stations showing Christmas movies before Halloween, once Thanksgiving hits, it’s all fair game. Crank up the Christmas tunes and sing along, loudly; it will put you in the right frame of mind to do whatever holiday-related task lies in front of you.
- GET YOUR HOUSE CLEANED. Maybe you are hosting your husband’s office party (yep, I somehow got roped into that this year), or maybe no one is going to step foot in your house besides your immediate family. Either way, having it professionally cleaned during the holiday season can alleviate a lot of your stress. For one thing, it is a lot easier to focus and get things done when your house is clean. Immaculate Clean makes it easy! They offer one time cleaning services! You can hire them to clean your whole house, or just have them focus on something like bathrooms and the kitchen. They even offer a One Time Holiday Clean Discount! Contact them for information.
- ASK FOR HELP. As evidenced by my list above, that’s a lesson I still haven’t taken to heart. But delegating some of the the tasks on my side of the list would probably do wonders for my stress-level and wouldn’t hurt my marriage either!
’Tis the Season for Holiday StressA few days before Halloween, I was getting ready for our annual family pumpkin-carving night. With a college kid who doesn’t live at home, a too-cool-for-school 17-year-old, and a husband that hates the mess of pumpkin guts, this is a tradition that frankly just involves a lot of begging and arm-twisting to get anyone to even participate, but I refuse to give it up just yet. So I turned on the TV to see if I could find a Halloween classic to get us in the mood—preferably a good old-fashioned slasher thriller about Freddie Krueger or Michael Meyers or Jason in the hockey mask. Instead, I stumbled upon something much scarier: a movie called “Matchmaker Santa.” Yes, three whole days before Halloween, The Hallmark Channel was apparently already knee-deep into their “Christmas Countdown,” in which they show original holiday-themed movies 24-7 until Christmas day. This immediately threw me into a state of panic. I haven’t even thought about Thanksgiving yet, let alone started my Christmas shopping. What is wrong with me? Am I that far behind the eight ball? How will I ever get ready on time? This holiday panic attack is nothing new for me. It just never happened in October before. What is supposed to be a joyful time full of family, friends, food, and fun is often preceded by weeks of stress and anxiety. I know I’m not alone in this. So many of us women take on all the responsibility of creating a perfect holiday for our families, to the point that the holidays feel like a burden. That’s something that needs to stop. While I don’t believe there is any way to eliminate the holiday stress completely, I know there are a few things we can do to help ease it a little bit.
Make Your Lists, Check Them TwiceI’m a big list-maker. I’ve learned that if I don’t write something down (or have Siri put it into my iPhone Notes), I will forget to do it or buy it. For example, if I’m hosting Thanksgiving, I make a list of the menu for the main meal, as well as the kinds of food and drink I want to have on hand for overnight guests. Then I gather my recipes and make a grocery list of ingredients I’ll need. I even make lists of basic tasks that need to be completed (ie., changing sheets, ironing table cloths, stocking bathrooms with soap and toilet paper). Also, let’s face it, these days if you haven’t started Christmas shopping before Black Friday, you’re already behind. It helps me to remain calm and focused if I make a list of every person I need to shop for. I also include gift ideas as I come up with them. Tip: if you find yourself struggling for a gift idea, an Immaculate Clean gift certificate makes a really great gift for just about anyone, from a busy mom, a messy bachelor, to an elderly relative! You’re welcome. (By the way, Immaculate Clean offers pre-pay discounts up to 12% off. Gift certificates are a great way to take advantage of this discount!) Contact them for details.
De-Clutter in Short BurstsStart early to make room for holiday decorations and for all of the new “stuff” that’s going to be coming into your home. If, like me, you only use your dining room for actual dining twice a year, chances are it has become a spot for collecting junk during the rest of the year. If you spend just a few minutes each day finding a home for any extraneous items that have accumulated there, by Thanksgiving Day you’ll be ready to set the table without much ado.
Schedule a Professional CleaningThink ahead and get a professional cleaning on the schedule to help you prepare for holiday gatherings. This will do two great things:
- It will force you to clear out any clutter that still remains so that the cleaning crew has room to work
- It will free your time so you can focus on something like baking or memory-making rather than toilet scrubbing.