We had so much more we wanted to say in our previous blog post, 4 Tips for Christian Parents to Fight Holiday Overwhelm, we decided to break down some of the parts a little further.
It never hurts to get more practical how-to's for sleeping and eating well. Especially when we are in the middle of a coffee-crash-that-coincides-with-hungry-toddler-meltdowns-and-everything-ever-feels-overwhelming kind of moment. Been there. So here you go:
To fight holiday overwhelm as a parent, first try to sleep and eat well. When pressures rise, sleep and good food are the first things to go. Staying up late to finish that project. Grabbing a quick drive-thru, something to keep going. We cut corners to meet our holiday goals. It's all based out of a heart of love, so shouldn't it be worth it? Well, sometimes yes. But keeping up this pace for weeks (or months) all keeps stress levels high. While making the season merry and bright for our loved ones, we may forget our own basic needs, and turn our own hearts and minds into plum pudding.
You're tired. You're irritable, and it's clearly everyone else's fault.
I know, Honey. It's hard. Now, I want you to do something:
Set a bedtime for yourself. I mean it. Select a person to hold you accountable. Like a parent used to tell you it's time to turn out the lights, and no, you cannot have five more minutes. We still need this kind of accountability. A text from a friend. An alarm on your phone. A gentle reminder from a spouse. Something. Anything.
"But I can't shut my mind off!" you say. I know. Me neither.
But I learned a simple trick. Talk to yourself. When your thoughts run away with you, you can "parent your brain." Talking out loud to your thoughts does something. You will believe yourself more. Think of it like this: in a conversation, we typically remember snippets of what the other person said, but we can tell you most of what we said. Turns out, we take our own words quite seriously. Use this to your advantage. Tuck yourself in and have a goodnight talk. Outloud. Tell yourself, "I am not thinking about my to-do list anymore. I am done for the night. It's time to sleep. It's time to relax. All will work out. We can tackle that problem in the morning. Now I am going to sleep." Then take your words seriously. Sleep.
It's winter. You're hibernating. And you have found yourself having coffee and gingerbread for lunch the past three days. Or is that only me?!
I've heard the good advice that when you're craving sugar and caffeine, eat root vegetables and dark leafy greens. They say it's the minerals and vitamins your body is actually craving. I know, that's no fun. But remember, we are fighting holiday overwhelm, which isn't any fun either! So in that case, let's have no fun while nourishing our bodies, shall we? The goal here is to feel better. Here are some ideas:
Snack Ideas for the Commute:
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Yogurt Cups
- String Cheese
- Oranges/Strawberries/Kiwis (Vitamin C!)
- Soups/stews cooked with real stock. It has tons of minerals and calcium. (btw, the term these days for stock is "bone broth," but they're exactly the same. It's the carcass of the chicken (or beef bones, or pork bones, or fish bones) boiled in a big pot of water with celery/onion/carrots/pepper/and a splash of white vinegar to help leach the minerals out of the bones.)
- Sauteed chard/kale/spinach. Again, vitamins and minerals.
- Slow-roasted roasts, cooked all day in the crock pot. Bonus, the house smells delicious all day.
- Roasted root vegetable medley (think carrots, potatoes, yams, turnips).
- Beans. (Iron, fiber, protein)
- Fresh salads with nuts sprinkled on top.
- A side of raw sauerkraut/kimchi. (Think: good bacteria=healthy digestive flora=boosted immune system)
In order to feel better, we must give ourselves the basics: we must sleep and eat. The goal here is to feel better. We many not be able to control weird Uncle Ben's affinity for telling war stories to the young children on Christmas Eve, but we can control ourselves. We can control how we care for ourselves so we can make wise decisions each day. We can control when we sleep and when we wake. We can control what we put into our mouths.
Remember: self-judgement is out the window. Every day is fresh. Every day we get to make new choices. As we take care of the bodies God gave us, the world may feel a bit more friendly. We may be able to see the people God has given us a bit more clearly, and love them as He has loved us.