In between overdoing it

Organizing Month 11: Holiday stressWith the end of November comes my second to last installment of my walk through the book “One Year to an Organized Life,” by Regina Leeds. So far in this series we have tackled emotional and physical clutter and it has made all of the holiday activities so much easier. Here are links to the spaces we have organized so far; Kitchen, Garage, Bathroom, Bedroom, Paper Organization, Memorabilia, Travel, Kids Rooms, Living/Dining Room.

The author said it but I didn’t really believe it until Thanksgiving came upon us. She stated after creating organizational habits throughout the house this year your home will now support you during the holidays instead of sabotage you. She was totally right!

The freak-out begins

Every year about two weeks before Thanksgiving, I start to get anxious. I start to freak out imagining all that has to get done before Thanksgiving. Creating lists upon lists or what needs to be cleaned, purchased and cooked.  Tending to take on way to much this time of year, the process of prepping for the holiday’s makes me over complicate all of these things.

I worry will there be enough food? I envision how messy my house will be for guests.  Not to mention the time it will take to shop, prep, cook and clean the house, while still having to work a full-time job. Add to that the anxiety of seeing Christmas ads all over the place by early November. Are they kidding I haven’t even gotten through Thanksgiving yet and I’m already feeling the pressures of Christmas shopping?

Turkey, family and flooring oh my!

Well, to my surprise this year that didn’t happen when by all reason it should have been worse. See, about two weeks before Thanksgiving we were scheduled to get new flooring installed through almost all of our home. This renovation was scheduled for October but had to be postponed due to Hurricane Matthew.working-mother-clip-art-multitasking_mom1

Not only did I have my entire house in shambles, I had no floor for about a week and a half before the big day. Almost the whole house of furniture was packed into three bedrooms and we were still living in it! So roughly about four days before Thanksgiving, I had to put my entire house back together.

Still we could not move all the furniture back completely until the baseboard’s were done THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING. What? When I should be prepping, cleaning and cooking I had to move furniture.

The weird thing was, this year I was not stressed. I truly believe all of the work of de-cluttering had played a large roll in this lack of the anxiety I have come to associate with Thanksgiving.

In fact, once the floor was installed we realized how much nicer our home felt with less stuff. As we moved in some furniture, we uncluttered more and decided to get rid of pieces to make our small home feel more open.

During the renovation my kids and I were stuck in the bedroom and front yard for much of the time. I took this opportunity to further pare down my children’s belongings and tackled the scrapbook cabinet I had mentioned in a prior post. Getting rid of toys, cloths, and video games I missed on the first go around. Once that was done we moved on to Thanksgiving.

What was Thanksgiving like as a kid?

The first section of this chapter, in my view, is the most important. Surprisingly it has nothing to do with organizing your physical space. Instead it deals with confronting where your holiday stress comes from and setting your intention for this years celebration’s. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is huge.

It starts with several journal questions that dive into what your holiday was like as a child. They seem like simple questions at first but help you to discover some thought patterns that may be trapping you into a certain way of thinking about Thanksgiving.

Growing up my parents hosted Thanksgiving. My mom and Dad where really good cooks and dinner was always delicious. However my cousins, who would come over, had a beautifully decorated and immaculately clean home. My family… not so much. I remember being the only one to clean the house before Thanksgiving because I was embarrassed. To me our house was always a mess, our furniture was old and out dated. It was nothing like the clean, well-kept home my cousins had.

Looking back I realized my parents were more concerned about the food they prepared and the family time we had.  They were never much for appearances. Not having a ton of money or time, they felt these resources were better spent on providing a great meal, not on the appearance of the house.

However, after answering these questions I discovered the majority of my Thanksgiving stress was generating from this memory. It was not in the food preparation so much as the house cleaning I worried over. It was so difficult to keep the house clean to the way I wanted with two dogs and two children.

Mom, we really didn’t need a 20 lb Turkey

The other thing I realized is I completely over spent and over-cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. Every year I would watch my parents prepare Thanksgiving enough for 30 people when we where only 10. One year my mother even bought a 20 lb turkey! So growing up I always thought this was the way Thanksgiving was done.

This discovery was made when I was making my Thanksgiving menu, something that the author advises in the third section of the chapter. Going down my list, noting all of ingredients to shop for there was a nagging feeling to make this list longer. Eventually my husband asked why I was trying to make Thanksgiving stressful for myself by adding more to do? He was totally right. I didn’t have the time or the energy to add more and why did I feel like I needed too?

This Thanksgiving we had a wonderful time and I actually got to spend it with my family instead of in the kitchen. I allowed myself to take some shortcuts and help by purchasing cake and pie instead of making it myself and let my husband do the clean up.

Thanksgiving isn’t suppose to be about stressing out, or having an immaculate home filled to too much stuff. It is about family and making memories. So this year I am setting my intention on that.

[ctt title=”‘The holidays are about families celebrating together-the holiday is not supposed to be perfect,’ ” tweet=”‘The holidays are about families celebrating together-the holiday is not supposed to be perfect,’ ” coverup=”bla8Z”]from One Year to an Organized Life by Regina Leeds.

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