Seven “E”z Tips for Holidays Filled with Fun, Family and Freedom from Stress!

I woke up the other day with a very familiar feeling, and in trying to discover what it was…  I realized it’s – that  BEGINNING OF THE END feeling!  Some of you may recognize it yourself – that little bit of exciting/ but doomsday feeling, that “can’t wait until it’s over/ but over the moon –  thrilled it’s finally here!” feeling.  You know, October is almost over, SO…that means the Holiday season is officially about to begin!  When I say Holiday season, I mean, well…..

HalloweenVeteransDayThanksgivingAdventChanukahChristmasNewYear’sEveNewYear’sDay!  WHEW!  Putting it all together like that, feels kinda overwhelming, no?  And that’s just saying it in one breath –  not actually living it – day to day, week to week, over the next,  2 ½ months!

Moms regularly comment to me at this time of year, they want their holidays to include more family time, more fun, and more freedom from stress.  Unfortunately each year come January, these same moms seem more discouraged, broke, and worn out from their well-intention, over-stretched, stress-filled lives from the prior October through December!

I decided to share my Seven “E”z Tips for Holidays Filled with Fun, Family and Freedom from Stress!

1.   ENVISION: (End in Mind)

a. Find a quiet place for you to be alone and take three slow, deep breaths, close your eyes and Envision: WHAT YOUR “END IN MIND” IS FOR EACH HOLIDAY!

                             i.    Be clear, specific and detailed about what it will “look” like:

                            ii.    #1 Top Priority? – What is it and Why?

                             iii.    Be extremely descriptive so you can remain focused on what you are truly trying to achieve: The feeling, environment,                                                    connection, etc.

2.   ENCOURAGE:

 a.    Encourage your family to share their ideas, top priorities, hates and must haves to join you in collaborating for a shared End in Mind.  It also offers an opportunity to get to know each other better and to encourage “buy-in” or “ownership” for this process from those who are helping to create this shared vision.

 3.   ENLIST:

a. Once you have a shared vision, you will need to ENLIST your family members as “teammates” or “partners” to plan and carry out the “End in Mind.”  Enlisting is “getting them on board!”  All human beings desire to feel needed, valued for the importance of our contribution.  The key, then, to Enlisting each teammate is by having them chose how they will contribute, which tasks to carry out, and vocalize how achieving our shared “End in Mind” helps them feel valued and important.  Allowing family members to engage in choosing how they participate is important for true enlistment – they have to want to get to the End, or they won’t necessarily continue with the plan through to the End.

4.   EASY:

a.    Keep your plan as EASY and simple as possible.  The Holidays are busy enough without adding more chaos to them!  If things feel chaotic –           its time to EVALUATE!

b.   Give step by step instructions whenever possible.

c.    Have a buddy system to help with accountability and follow through.

d.   Have clear, defined times, dates, assignments, etc., WRITTEN DOWN.

 5. EVALUATE:

a. As a team, EVALUATE your plan:

                         i.    What could possibly go wrong?  Are there any holes that need plugging?

                              ii.    Is this item necessary to the “End in Mind?”  If so, how?

iii.    Is it EASY and simple enough?

iv.    How are we helping each other succeed?

v.    Are the time deadlines reasonable so everyone can be successful?

vi.    When do we meet again to re-evaluate?

6.   EXECUTE:

a. No one reaches “The End in Mind” without taking action!  After Evaluating your plan – put it into action immediately!   “A thing done, when           thought of, needs no further attention!” (Thank you, Betty!  My sweet Mother-in-law)

7.   ENJOY:

a.    Take a deep breath!  You and your family have things in hand!  You have a Plan, Stick to it and you will succeed!  Fail to plan and you plan to           fail!

b.   Remember: What I give returns to me tenfold – share the joy that comes from relaxing, enjoying the time you get to spend with your family,            the fun you are having and the freedom from the stress of chaos and contention that used to come with the holidays!

 One mother, I had the opportunity to work with, wanted to change the “lack of feeling” around Thanksgiving.  I invited her to try my 7 Ez Tips.  She decided her “End in Mind” for one Thanksgiving was to “encourage the development of gratitude in her family along with providing learning opportunities for recognizing abundance in their lives.”  As a single mom, she didn’t have many financial resources or available time.  She called her two grade-school daughters and teenage son together to Encourage them to share their ideas about creating a game to play for the month of November.  She had already made a mock-up of her idea – an Advent-type calendar that had a word to be revealed beneath each day of the week – to see what they thought, and to collaborate on: what words to use, how to use the calendar, and if they wanted to use the calendar.  A discussion ensued with the calendar being agreed upon.  Next, the mother Enlisted each member of the family by asking them to volunteer for particular assignments in creating the actual calendar that would be used and choosing the words to use with it. The words ranged from kindness, to laughter to service.  When they decided on how to play the game, they kept it Easy and simple, so they could stay with it until the End. In their Evaluation of their plan, they determined the purpose of the game stayed true to their goal, and the time frame for the game (breakfast and dinner) fit everyone’s’ schedule so it was less likely for things to go wrong.  The family then went to work Executing their decisions and taking action – making the calendar was fun for the girls – they consulted mom, when they needed her help, but did most of it on their own.  The older son and mom worked together to find words that would appeal to all members of the family.

 When November rolled around the following week, and the family of four came together for their first Calendar Breakfast – the word for the day was revealed, “living.” Each family member was to discover how it applied to “gratitude” and to “abundance.” Later, at dinner that night, they would each discuss what they found out.  On Thanksgiving, each individual shared what they had Enjoyed learning through this process.  This game brought their family closer, with more time spent together and they discovered how differently they each experienced the people and world around them.  It also provided them shared opportunities to serve others outside their own family, resulting in a realization of the abundance in their own lives.