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A Dirty Word for the Holiday Season: Checklist. (It’s Not What You Think, I Promise.)

winter beauty

We’re in the midst of the Holiday Season, which is wonderful and terrible at the same time. I hope you don’t mind me saying that—I’ll explain. I mean that when we’re caught in “the rush of it all,” we sometimes put greater emphasis on our to-do lists (and what we haven’t yet completed) than on what was done for us and the immense gifts we’ve been given. We miss out on the joy of the journey because we’ve been driving at 70 MPH with our eyes fixed on “making good time.”  

Here’s what I envision for this Season’s journey: take it down to 35 and behold the scenery with gratitude and joy. I’d like to avoid the blinders of comparison and hustle to make room to look around. I’d like to Sunday-drive my way through the Holiday Season. (Don’t worry, I’ll hug the right lane.)

If Project: Sunday Drive is a success, it will hinge on whether I’ve kept in mind “why” I chose it. I’ve picked out the values of compassion, gratitude, and joy to guide my intentions. And I will invest in decisions that promote those values because that is how and who I want to be. I am well aware, given past experience, that it will not be easy to stay in the right lane and let others speed by. What if I miss out on something important and super fun ahead? What if I don’t get where I want to go? Well, for this Season, the joy must be in the journey.

A big part of slowing down means continuing to involve my kids (3rd, 5th, and 7th grade) with our family’s daily “to-dos.” Our list increases this time of year, and my bandwidth—however much I hate to admit it—does not. So these particular checklists—freshly printed this morning—are more important than ever. Equally important, too, is my clarity about “why” I will continue to hold up box-shaped-hoops for my kiddos to jump through and check-off.

As parents and caregivers shoulder more responsibility than ever, our kiddos have done the same: organized sports, lessons, theater, robotics, STEM and STEAM projects, and more. All of these activities are amazing opportunities, but they keep us speeding along far above our legal limits. As the Holiday Season piles more onto our plates, something has to give, or we’ll end up spinning out of control. And so—check the boxes my loves—we’ll do this together.

What do I have on my naughty or nice list? Here are a few of the items:

School Days
  • Communication Notebook
  • Take Home Folder
  • Homework
  • Reading
  • Flashcards
  • Need help with anything?
  • Hug Mom
Before Bed
  • PJs
  • Brush teeth
  • Pick Outfit for tomorrow
  • Pack backpack
  • Charge Chromebook
  • Hug Mom
Home
  • Feed the dog
  • Walk the dog
  • Unload the dishwasher
  • Load the dishwasher
  • Clear dishes
  • Vacuum main level
  • Help with groceries
  • Laundry in bins or away
  • Counters in kitchen/bath
Hockey
  • Unpack/dry gear
  • Pack gear
  • Water bottle
  • Skates sharp?
  • Stick Handle

Because I know this list will cause some pushback, I need to remain mindful of why it’s there: I want to model relationship, reciprocity, and service for my kids. When we all practice putting others’ needs before our own, our family team operates at its best.

My kids play organized hockey, so I’ll be using many of these team analogies to get us through. And yes, they’ll roll their eyes… but I know that here and there the pieces will stick. I’ll also reward them with friend activities, family movie nights, and “yeses” to other requests, but they will earn these treats and won’t take them for granted. When it comes time to work, I will ask them to hold in mind the next fun activity they want to do—and then do the work with joy.

I want to clarify: I am not relying on my kids’ behavior to make me happy but helping them cultivate happiness by working with those we love. Help is the currency through which they show their understanding of how our family works. It’s how they say, “Thanks for all you do, and we’re here to pick up where you leave off so you’re not racing, ragged, and… raging.” It’s how they help me slow down. So we can Sunday Drive together.

When they help fill my bucket, I can pour back into theirs. It doesn’t take much to light up a Mama’s heart, and I believe holding us to the list will grow all of our gratitude and joy. That is, after all, the Reason for the Season, isn’t it?

Yours in the Sunday Drive,

Cara

Slowing Down to Avoid a Wreck and Find Resilience
Thanksgiving Gratitude
 

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Tuesday, 23 July 2019