TIS THE SEASON - All Year Long

Cheri West, M.A..

Here I am (at the 11th hour) making one last attempt to produce a meaningful article for this newsletter.  You see, I have tried to find a moment to sit down and write for the past two weeks and every time I set aside the time, well, life seems to get in the way!  Can you relate?  I have made my excuses and asked for just a bit more time but still struggle to find the balance in my hectic days. 
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks!  Balance??? What's that?  It's tough enough trying to find the balance in our daily lives let alone during the holiday season, which we are in the midst of as we go to press!  We still do all the things we always do every day, but now we add to that shopping lists, decorating, the company Christmas party, other social gatherings, family get-togethers, a Christmas feast, more shopping, making our list and checking it twice, three times, four times…every day?  Tis the season but how do we find time to be jolly? And after the holidays, it's still the same.  School schedules, sports, family obligations, work, time for ourselves … ha!  Our to-do list isn't shorter after the holidays … just different.
Well, after giving this some deep thought (in the only three minutes I had to myself today) I realized that what is missing from daily life during this festive season, as well as the rest of the year, is balance.  This means that we might have to give something up on our never-ending to-do list and allow a bit of time for ourselves and our families.  Even though our days speed by and deadlines are always upon us, let's try to set aside at least a mandatory one hour each and every day for quality family time and, most importantly, one hour each and every day for ourselves. 
This nurture time is necessary in order to keep going at the frantic pace we have set for ourselves and also for our good mental health!  If we fall victim to exhaustion, stress, frustration, etc., it will begin to take twice as long to get anything accomplished and we can get ready for an Excedrin headache #25 in addition to everything else!  Find the balance!  Have a Calgon moment!  Read a magazine!  Have a hot cup of cocoa while watching "It's a Wonderful Life" for the hundredth time!  Sit and rock in your favorite chair while listening to soft music.  Tinker with fixing something!  Sit and watch your pet relaxing and think about absolutely nothing!  Sleep in on the weekend!  Allow yourself to have take-out for dinner!
I think you get the idea.  Balance!  I too often forget the balance in my holiday schedule, and my rest of the year schedule.  Tis always the season to be rested, nurtured, relaxed, and of course, jolly.  This article is the first hour of doing something I really wanted to do that wasn't on my to-do list!  I feel better knowing I took the time.  So please…don't forget yourselves in the everyday chaos.  Take a moment to re-group.  Figure out how to balance the "to-do list" with the "want to list".  Give yourselves a little time each and every day to relax, enjoy your family, and reflect on the true meaning of what matters in life every season.  I know I will!

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daycare center with lots of staff turnover may not be as good a choice as a family member or licensed in-home caregiver.  The key here is safety and experience, as well as continuity.
4. If you do work, remember that it's even more important that time at home be a time of connecting, being together, trying to have time and space to just be together.  It's very difficult, so enlist as much help from others as possible.  Single moms can join together to trade dinner nights and support each other through the evening routines.  Married couples can try to trim schedules and chores as much as possible, and trade off so that one can be "on call" for the children while the other does dinner, etc.
5. If after reading this, you're feeling challenged and even angry, please know that all of us as parents are in the same boat.  We all want what's best for our children, and we're all trying to provide that.  Sometimes knowing a little more about how they develop can help us find a new direction that makes our family function better, and that's good for everyone!

Families Counseling • 1633 Erringer Road, # 204 • Simi Valley, CA  93065

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