A Healthy Stepmother . . . paces herself through the holiday gatherings.

The number of holiday functions we attend in December is a bit mind-numbing. In the last week, we’ve hosted four of five gatherings in our home. Over the years we’ve done the math, tried to consolidate or condense, but it’s nearly impossible to find the right balance. Not only are the kids with their mom and we work around that schedule, but my husband has divorced parents who don’t celebrate together. Most recently, my aging father is preferring to celebrate with us at a quieter time and we’re creating a new ritual around that.

I’ve discovered a few things that have helped me calm through this last week and keep my center. Super happy to report that my husband and I have had one quote-unquote discussion and we are so in sync this year it makes my heart sing.

As I write this, we’re headed into the last of the suppers and I’ve snuck away to my room to write and get out of the fray. Fortunately and amazingly, I’m not dreading this last dinner and am actually looking forward to some time with my mother-in-law and the kids.

How in the world did this come about . . . well, I’m as amazed as you!

First, we opened most of the presents a couple of days ago and tonight feels calmer and more about being together. That has been our dream, that our gathering time with the kids would be about being together.

Second, we made sure to have more gaps between events. It used to be that our Christmas Brunch was not even done and the kids came over excited to see about their presents. We had barely cleared the dining room table from our morning guests and we were into the next frenzy and activity. Some years it’s been suggested that I not have my Christmas Brunch and I’ve stubbornly resisted. We are now in our 8th year and it’s my favorite time of the holidays. This one is for me. Some years we have my father, some years my husband’s father and stepmother, another year my husband’s mother, always our neighbors who don’t have young children, and often a few friends. This morning as we laughed over our mimosas, I was reminded of what a great group of people I share my life with. It sustains me to feed my friends especially at a time of sharing and caring.

Third, we let go of worrying about what we would have rather had. We didn’t get our way with all the plans about where we were and when or who was with us. In some ways, once we let go of it, we really were able to relax and enjoy our time. There were less politics and more connecting with the people we were with. Last night especially, at my sister-in-law’s house (shout out to you, lovely Patti), we visited and Skyped with our nephew who is married and living in Japan. I noticed that he looked very good and my summary is that marriage agrees with him.

Fourth, I anticipated a difficult evening a couple of times and I took a handkerchief with a few drops of essential oils on it and inhaled deeply. I repeated and repeated and even if you don’t think essential oils do anything, the deep inhalations sure helped. And, it smelled wonderful. I felt like one of those women from the past with a vial of smelling salts. You can order the Adrenal Support blend and do the same. I highly recommend it for part of your daily self-care routine.

Fifth, I kept checking in with my husband and making sure we were on the same page. A couple of times we were not. And, I finally noticed and admitted that when the stress came crushing in, I was found to be wanting to change the plan. Postpone this, speed up that. And, that all seemed like so much work so I let it go and we stayed with as close to what we usually do as possible. Had we tried to make changes, it felt like turning around a train hurtling down the hill.

Sixth, we opened presents early to take pressure off of Christmas Day evening, as I mentioned earlier. Because of that, we were able to release one of the kids from feeling obligated to come and eat a meal with us. We will visit with him tomorrow or another day very soon and it will be more fun than if we had pressured him to be with us this evening. I even told him I was a little jealous that he could sneak away with his friends and have some chill time. Oh, how I’d love to do that myself sometimes.

I can hear the noises from my kitchen below and I’d better scoot. My husband’s other kids are here and so is my mother-in-law, so I’ll go and enjoy their company.

Blessings to you on this season of change. I hope this fall of self-soothing has been useful for you. Stay tuned because when I get back to the edits my editor made in these posts, I’ll be compiling them into an ebook. You’ll be the first to know.

And I slipped away to have time to calm myself but also to connect with you, so maybe that’s a number seven, to stay connected to other stepmothers that you know. All the best to you.

Merry, merry, Happy, happy!!!

Kim

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