5 ways to find more “me” time during the holidays
Shop by yourself
Schedule time for holiday gift shopping, but go alone. Make a list before you begin so that you know what you need at each store and can spend as little time as possible actually shopping, and let your spouse or babysitter know that you'll be gone all day. While you're shopping, proceed slowly, taking time to breathe and to enjoy the holiday lights and decorations. Treat yourself to a leisurely lunch at a nice restaurant, sometime after the mid-day rush, taking care to stash your packages securely in your car so that you're unencumbered. Take along a book or your journal, and plan to linger. When lunch is over, enjoy one of your favorite winter walks before heading home.
Give yourself an early present
Take a break in the midst of all the holiday hustle and bustle, and give yourself the gift of a relaxing massage, mani/pedi or spa treatment. Your inner demons will tell you that you don't have time, because too many people and holiday events are depending on you. But don't listen. Scheduling two or three hours to pamper yourself during this stressful season isn't going to leave anyone stranded. And by making time to rejuvenate your body and refresh your spirit, you'll have more energy to give to others.
Create a family tradition
Look for opportunities to create special memories by having your spouse and children team up for holiday tasks or outings that don't include you. Send them out to find the perfect Christmas tree while you enjoy a long soak in a hot bath and a cup your favorite holiday beverage. Or conspire with your spouse to make shopping for your gifts a special day, which will give you some well-deserved "me" time. Chances are those special parent-child outings will become holiday traditions your whole family will cherish.
Schedule a non-holiday event
During the hectic holiday season, every day seems to be about getting things done -- cooking, shopping, decorating, entertaining and kids' events. Doesn't that sounds like your normal year-round routine, only busier? If you start to feel a bit like a hamster on a wheel -- going round and round with endless activities -- step off the wheel for a few hours and reward yourself with some non-holiday "me" time. Attend a concert, enjoy dinner and a movie, take a nature walk...any activity you enjoy is great as long as it's specifically not related to a holiday goal. Go by yourself, or take your spouse or BFF, as long as they promise to honor the moratorium on holiday planning, thinking or doing. The point is to take a break from the holidays and do something just for fun.
Share the chores
Don't let your long holiday "To Do" list get you down. Team up with one or more of your closest friends to share the burden -- and transform some of your holiday chores into a party. Deposit all of the kids at one friend's home and split the cost of a babysitter. Gather at another friend's home to work through everyone's holiday baking and giftwrapping. To make the day more festive, pour a little wassail or egg nog and set out some finger food. Before long, you'll be having so much fun that you'll forget you're working. Share the clean-up before going to pick up the kids, and then smile as you cross a major task or two off your list and treasure the warm memory of a day spent with friends.
Sharon O'Brien is a freelance writer and licensed professional counselor in Portland, Oregon.