Surviving the Holiday Mommy Meltdown
Turkey’s, Gift Wrap and End-of-Year Results—Oh My!
Words by Teresa Taylor
The holidays are upon us, and there is magic in the air. As a mom, you would think this would be a fun time of year – for family traditions and making memories. As a working mom, you think of the disorder encroaching on the household. Right?
In fact, it is the beginning of a two-month long meltdown that I unaffectionately call the “Holiday Meltdown.” Once a year, like clockwork, I fail to keep it together when the simultaneous pressures of fourth-quarter work and holiday pressures collide.
At work, by November, we are always behind in our financial commitments. In order to close out the fourth quarter in line, we needed to make expense cuts. The pressure is unbelievable and unpleasant. How was I supposed to figure out how to reduce my budget with two weeks’ notice? Why did we have to go through this exercise every year? How am I supposed to forecast the next year’s results when I can’t even figure out next week?
At home, the upcoming holidays bring another form of pressure. Costumes, school party supplies, family commitments, extra baking (wait, I don’t bake!), the perfect presents, formalwear, coupons, sales, and new tradition expectations – everything at once! On top of all that, the winter sports begin with a heavy game schedule as January dawns, gotta think about that now, too. More paperwork and registrations.
Yes, work and family schedules are busier than ever during this time of year.
The following five “meltdown” tips will help you survive the holiday adventure and the fourth-quarter pressures at work. They are written from my personal and professional experiences and shared in my book, The Balance Myth: Rethinking Work-Life Success.
1. Wear the game face. It is not necessary to let everyone know how miserable you are. It is not productive and only creates more chaos. It is ok to cry but find a place that you can cry alone – mine was the women’s bathroom in my office.
2. Third grade only comes once. Each school grade comes with unique characteristics that shape your children. Try to rise above the details and look at the bigger picture. Treasure – don’t dread — this busy holiday-at-school time.
3. Manage your time more efficiently. Be present in what you’re doing, finish it and move on. I have my list of things to do, and I’ll assign time slots to it. If I have one hour to work on a presentation at work or one hour to wrap presents, I do the best I can for that one hour.
4. Combine your work and family schedules. I used to keep two different calendars – one for home and one for work; but, I was missing work deadlines, my kids’ activities and other events. So I combined the calendars, which caused me to start talking about my family at work and integrating my two lives. It’s one life and one calendar! And,now, I don’t miss a thing. More than ever, the holidays are the right time for combining.
5. Stay in the moment. When you’re at work or in a meeting, be there. When you’re at home, be there. If you’re in a business meeting, don’t be wishing to be somewhere else. Be present where you are, and don’t feel guilty about where you’re not.
At the end of the day – or at least every time the holidays came around – all over again, I learned a valuable lesson about adversity, setbacks, disappointment, difficulties and everything else that came rolling down the pike. It takes faith that things will work out, and they always do.
So enjoy and savor the holidays with your kids and family while still surviving at work and leave the “mommy meltdowns” behind.
About the Author: Teresa Taylor is a nationally recognized, Fortune 200 executive who brings integrity, focus, vision and agility to corporate leadership, while advising companies, government agencies and others on a successful business model. Her book, The Balance Myth: Rethinking Work-Life Success, is inspiring women to succeed professionally and personally.