I started this post a month ago, so that should give you some insight into how I am handling the holidays this year.
I was watching insta-stories the other night in bed, and listening to another Mom describe feeling totally overwhelmed and stretched thin this year, and all I could think was "PREACH IT. Me too". I DM'ed her on Instagram (because I was feeling a connection to this virtual stranger, and I dunno - that's just how I roll) and it became clear to me that maybe this is just a part of this season of my life. I am busy. I am stretched thin. And it's not just about my kids.
This winter I bit off a bit more than I can chew - but it's all getting done. I have a wonderful network of support, and a husband who can see my eye twitching from a mile away and knows the best ways to lend me help how I need it. I lately have been feeling like I wanted to stretch myself a little, beyond just caring for my kids at home full time. I don't miss working, and I wouldn't give up my time with my kids for the world, but I feel pulled to do more. To pursue forgotten interests and explore the idea that I have something to offer. To play a role other than Mom.
This feeling manifested in different ways. I started to write again for other sites, and ultimately started my own. I really started to pour some energy into my small joint business (it's this if you're curious), and I knit things like I always have for people. Amazing things started to happen. I discovered that when I focused my efforts onto these types of projects, people paid attention. When I wrote, people read it. When I focused on building our business, I landed clients. When I knit, people bought it. Success is an amazing feeling, and is the best motivation for continuing to push forward. But I also have this parenting gig and it doesn't leave very much time for other things during the working part of the day, and it can be really challenging (dare I say impossible?) to find a good balance.
Though I find myself stressed out and sometimes overwhelmed, I thrive in the chaos - or so I like to think. I am a lot more productive when I am racing the clock (which is exactly why I'm writing this at 10pm instead of packing for a holiday market tomorrow), but if my space is in shambles then so am I. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind. Well I absolutely HATE to say it, but this completely applies to me. Oh the irony! I am an actual slob, so this is a particularly cruel condition to suffer from. For me, the best way to cope is to ruthlessly purge my home of basically everything, and to upgrade my spaces to suit my needs, both in function and form. This may seem contrary, to tackle home projects in the midst of a busy season of life, but I truly feel more able to handle my life if my home is serving me and my family. If you haven't read Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, seriously consider it. Game-changer.
I suppose I have nothing novel to say on this topic, other than to encourage others to continue to pursue those things outside of motherhood, even if they throw your life off balance a bit. Part of the privilege of being able to stay home with the kids has been realizing what I truly care about, and I've been able to carve out small snippets of time to see if I could really take on a bit more. Everything is always evolving - the house, the kids, our routines. Somewhere in there, is the balance I'm looking for, but in the meantime it's OK to feel a little overwhelmed. It means I'm trying.
**If you are also purging your home of all your things this season, I wrote a guest post on Network of Moms about where you could donate your items this winter. Give it a read if you are looking to give some of your things a new home.