For the first time ever, last fall shortly after I had a breakthrough in November with setting strong career boundaries, I realized that in December I could not fall into the same trap once again of having career to-dos take over the bulk of my Christmas break. Instead, I wanted to approach it differently with the recognition that there's always more to do and I will always be able to fill my days with work to-dos. In the meantime, I would be missing out on valuable family time, as well as feeling drained at the end of the break.
Instead, I decided on a compromise. I thought about how my older girls had school for one week beyond my fall term, so I decided that I would still send my youngest to day care and work that week (the first week of my break) in order to then prioritize really taking off the 2 weeks they were off. I can't remember if I was able to firmly stick to my intention last year or not, but I do know that I was able to hit the pause button more than I had any other year since I became a teacher in the 2005-06 academic year. It made all the difference.
This year I decided to do the same. As long as my kids are at home, I want to prioritize pausing work while they are on break. At the end of last week I made a list of what I would like to accomplish during the week in order to set myself up for taking a break without too much worry about pending to-dos. I also built in a day for me to catch my breath in a quiet house, mainly spending some time scrapbooking - something that has been mostly neglected this year.
As the week went on, I realized the list was perhaps a little too ambitious. With my two priorities in mind - to have at least one day for me and to not work the next two weeks, I decided on another trade-off. Rather than going home early last night, I worked late. I re-considered my list in order to do what I thought was most important to be able to walk back through the door on the first day of winter term without feeling too frenzied. I got a start on some of the other to-dos. Then, I walked out the door with a sense of peace. Aside from needing to click publish on a couple of items for my online graduate classes the Thursday before the term starts, I will be on break.
This morning I took the browser I use for my work email off my dashboard so that I have to go that extra step in order to check my email. Enough to give me pause and think - do you really need to check that? The vacation automated response is there and I want to try to let it do its job, sending the message that I am on break and will respond when I go back.
What can you do during this holiday season in order to prioritize what is most important even though there are other aspects that might feel important but can really wait? How can you hit the pause button on something that might feel like it has to happen but really doesn't in order to have a more peaceful season?