Welcome to the December Mindful Mama Carnival: Staying Mindful During the Holiday Season
This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month participants shared how they stay mindful during the holiday season. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Yes, I really am going to write a list article on mindfulness and the holidays. And yes, the first tip is really going to be about to-do lists. I’ve had trouble accepting these realities, because lists hardly seem all that spiritual. Yet if it weren’t for my lists, I’d have a mind even more filled with plans and clutter and garbage than I do now, all getting in the way of my awareness of the present moment, whatever that might include … the Christmas music on the stereo, the oblique light of the day, the weight of the darkness that comes too early in the evening….
1. If you give gifts for the holidays, don’t write a shopping list. Write a to-do list.
Every year I make a budget based on the previous year’s budget, and then I write a shopping list based on the budget. In past years, I would treat that shopping list like a to-do list. But a shopping list is a list of items to buy, not a list of actions to take, and so every time I looked at the list, I’d have to think through all the actions I’d have to take to cross the remaining items off the list. Again and again and again. The less I have to think about anything the better, I say, and so this year I wrote a proper to-do list. A proper to-do list (in my book, anyway, as well as in Marilyn Paul’s) uses verbs. For example, don’t put “cards for Critter’s teachers” on the list. Put “write cards for Critter’s teachers.” And if a task includes multiple steps, note each action that you know needs to be taken. For example:
- Get cards for Critter’s teachers
- Find out the name of the new assistant teacher in the Critter’s class
- Write cards for Critter’s teachers
I love my to-do list. I really do. So much of my anxiety about getting ready for the holidays has fallen away. I know exactly what I need to do, and bit by bit I’m actually taking care of it.
2. When you’re not planning, stop planning.
The trick with the to-do list works only if you keep yourself from constantly thinking about what’s on it. Oh, and how my monkey mind loves to obsess! While I’m taking a shower, while I’m waiting for the bus, while I’m chopping up broccoli for dinner, it just wants to think and think and think about what’s on the to-do list, and when I’m going to take care of it, and what’s on the to-do list, and when I’m going to take care of it, and what’s on the to-do list, and … well, yes. It really is that repetitive, distracting, and useless. If you find yourself planning when you don’t need to be making plans, just let the thoughts go.
3. Don’t try to do too much.
One hundred (or more!) holiday cards? Yeah, I don’t do that anymore.
4. However, when it comes to the practices that take care of you, now is not the time to let things slide.
I’ve learned the hard way that when I give up on regular zazen and writing, going into survival mode in the midst of busy, busy, busy-ness, I end up feeling as though left with nothing more than a wasteland of a soul. Or worse, completely colonized by the busy-ness, as though there were no more me to me, but just the constant doing, doing, doing. Whatever your regular practice is — yoga, meditation, art, writing — don’t let it go now in order to make room for the busy-ness. Even just fifteen minutes a day can be enough.
5. If the darkness of winter gets to you, be gentle with yourself.
From the ending of Daylight Savings Time in November to the beginning of Daylight Savings Time in March, I rely on my nifty sunrise/sunset chart from the U.S. Naval Observatory to remind me that not only does it get better, but it doesn’t get too, too bad. “It” being the darkness, of course, and “not too bad” meaning at least the sun doesn’t ever set before 4:00 around here. And yet every year the early darkness stuns me. It’s always worse than I remember it. And so I sleep more. It’s OK. Now is the time for dreams.
6. Remember what the holidays are really about — for you.
For me, Christmas is childhood, is giving, is the divine made manifest in this world. The fairy lights, the gifts, the music … these are physical reminders of these deeper truths at this time of year. Yes it is cold, and yes it is dark, but even now, we are heading back toward spring….
What are the holidays really about for you?
Visit The Mindful Mama Homepage to find out how you can participate in the next Mindful Mama Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Enjoying Busy Times Moment by Moment Amy at Peace 4 Parents offers a handful of simple pointers to make the most of any busy season in your life.
- Staying A Mindful Mama During The Holiday Season Terri at Eco-Crazy Mom shares her thoughts on being a mindful mama, while keeping your sanity throughout the holiday season..
- Holiday Parenting: The Gift of Natural Play Moorea at MamaLady shares her holiday plan for mindfully spending time with children in her extended family.
- The ABC’s of Mindful Parenting Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama provides a comprehensive list of Mindful Parenting Resultions for 2012. In addition, she briefly reviews her mindful parenting journey for this past year.
- The 123’s of Mindful Parenting Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares part 3 of her Mindful Parenting series (Link will be live tomorrow, Dec 14).
- Mindful Mama Guest Post from Hybrid Rasta Mama Zoie at TouchstoneZ is honored to share Part 2 of Jennifer’s series on staying Mindful for the Holidays.
- Saying No to Plastic Toys Nada at minimomist and her husband Michael, have certain rules when it comes to toys for their daughter Naomi. Here’s how they deal with well-meaning gifts that don’t quite work for their family.
- Can you LOVE WHAT IS at Christmas? with so many expectations and no many people’s needs to accomodate, Patti at Jazzy Mama has decided to simply accept what can’t be changed and love whatever happens.
- Minimal Temptation, Minimal Gifting Adrienne at Mommying My Way shares how not exposing herself to tempting purchases, as well as having fun family traditions, helps keep her Christmas list under control.
- Choice And Consequence In Conscious Mindfulness Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares her realisation that consciously monitoring our thoughts have a powerful effect on our lives, regardless of circumstances or influences.
- A Light in the Darkness Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about overcoming holiday blues through the miracle of motherhood.
- Nature-Inspired Christmas Tree Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling describes how she and her children discovered the beauty and simplicity of a nature-inspired holiday tree.
- Giving The Gift of Life Free Range Mama at My Healthy Green Family shares about teaching children how to look beyond the well-wrapped box and learn how to give. .
- Can a collection of moments be more than the whole? Tat at Mum in search asks how do you turn a holiday from hell into a series of beautiful moments?
- Flying Through the Holidays Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction discusses how a simple organizational plan has kept her holidays balanced.
- Celebrating Advent week to week Lauren at Hobo Mama finds that counting down weeks instead of days helps children with the long wait.
- 5 Ways to Stay Mindful This Holiday Season Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares ideas and photos that help her stay mindful throughout the holidays.
- Simplifying the Holidays Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shares how simplifying the holidays has made them more special for her.
- Mindfully Managing the Mania Erica at ChildOrganics fights against “the gimmes” and shares strategies for staying balanced during a time of year when it’s easy to overindulge.
- Six Ways to Enjoy the Holidays Without Losing Your Mindfulness Rachael at The Variegated Life shares tips on thinking less, planning less, doing less, and remembering.
- The Gift of Presence Darcel at The Mahogany Way explains how important it is to be present for and with her family during the Holidays.
- Mindfully meditating on celebrations Dionna at Code Name: Mama hosts this guest post from Child of the Nature Isle about desiring meaningful celebrations for the whole year.
- What Does It Really Mean? Staying Mindful Through the Holiday Season Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about how she stays in touch with what the holiday season means for her and her family, in spite of all the temptations to do otherwise!