Wait. It’s only October. I haven’t even figured out Halloween costumes, yet!
So why am I talking about Christmas, today?
It’s very simple: While I do all sorts of freelancing, all year long, I will earn more money through my shopping site, Want Not, during November and December than I will make there for the entire rest of the year combined. And the only way that happens is if I work my tail off during those two months.
And—coincidentally, haha!—those are the two months when I most want to be able to relax and spend time with my family. Quite the conundrum.
What that means is that now, while it’s still October, I have to start planning how I’m going to do the work I need to do but still get the time with my family (and the down time) I want, as well. Every October I sit down and try to figure this out, and every October I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.
I do have a few ground rules that seem to work pretty well. For one thing, I always plan to work on Black Friday (prime shopping day, you know…) and make arrangements for my family to stay occupied without me. That’s a loooong day, though, and so to balance it, I generally take the next day off. I also know that the last day to order anything from Amazon and have it shipped in time for the holidays (with Prime, of course) will be a busy day, as well. So those two days I mark off as being completely unavailable.
On the other hand, I sit down with my husband and talk about ways to maintain balance on other, less-critical, days. We do a bit of shifting around of household chores to take some of the pressure off of me during this busy time (for example, he cooks more often during these months). And I take the school calendar and his calendar and my calendar and make sure I have a master calendar with all critical activities and appointments highlighted, so that I don’t end up forgetting anything or missing a band concert at school or whatever.
Those are all logical things, and easy things.
What’s not so easy for me is setting boundaries on how much time I can spend working on a “normal” day during these two months, one where I don’t have an appointment or a meeting or something the kids need me to take them to. During the other 10 months of the year, I pretty much work when the kids are at school; often I will work another hour after they get home (and are doing homework, themselves), sure, but I don’t generally work in the evenings. But during these two months I almost always go “back to work” (translation: back to the computer) in the evenings. And I have to figure out a better balance, because often what happens is that I am, quite frankly, a gibbering mess by the time Christmas arrives.
So. Things I’ll be doing this year:
1) For my birthday this year (yes, several months ago), my husband gave me a spa certificate which I haven’t yet used. Rather than framing this as my general failure to take a break already, let’s pretend I was saving it for these busy couple of months. Yes. I’m going to call and schedule that massage for the day after Black Friday, I think.
2) We are scheduling our holiday travel in a way that will force me to take some breaks. That’s kind of like multitasking, right?
3) I am going to try my hardest to continue my rest-of-the-year habit of taking Sundays off. I have a hard time sticking to this during the peak shopping season, but I’m going to try.
4) I am going to totally use my children to force myself to take breaks. I am strategically planning events with them that will force me to step away from the computer. Because I love them. And because if I make them a promise, I will keep it.
I don’t know if this is going to save me from holiday burnout, but I’m hoping it might. I’ll have to report back. Until then, ho ho ho!