December, 2008 Edition
Since there is enough stress and sleepless nights due to the holidays sans children, this year being my first as a Mother, I knew I was in for a real learning experience. All new experiences require a learning curve of course, and through this blog, The Life & Times of the Working Real Estate Mom, I hope to help you reduce yours or simply hone your skills from the many lessons I have taken away from this holiday season. This article specifically addresses some of these great holiday lessons that I have now learned & lived to tell you about!
Tips for working through the holidays:
• Prioritize deadlines! For me, my most important agenda item (besides normal-course operations) is year-end reports to our clients and CAM reconciliations. Knowing what I need to do and when it needs to be done is a huge step in the right direction. Secondly, I organize a strategy plan for how to get these done, specifically identify dates & specific project portions for that date - literally a step one, two, three system. This is similar to any marketing or business plan that you already use - and by writing/typing it, you are significantly more likely to succeed.
• Hire some help! Consider hiring an online assistant service or adding hours to your existing office or personal assistant to help you through this busy time, chances are they would love the extra hours right before the holidays too.
• Take a day off! I know this is tough for you fellow workaholics BUT you may find that you are more productive after you've gotten everything off your mind rather than spending work time surfing the net for gifts. Want to take this a step further? Get a sitter (or family member) to either take the baby OR come to your home/office to watch the baby there while you get some work done to make up for the day you took off.
Tips for surviving through the holidays:
• Shop online! Schlepping a child through those packed stores for holiday deals is NOT recommended. People push, shove, and won't get out of the way for your stroller-lugging, infant-crying self so don't even bother trying! Either get a sitter (or partner) to take the baby while you shop or stay at home and shop (after business hours) from the comfort of your own home while in slippers and a bathrobe. I found it was nicest at night after the baby has gone to bed.
• Have a game plan! Decide in advance which holiday parties, Christmas gatherings, and gift-buying outings you are going to solo, with your partner, and with the whole family. Have an exit strategy planned so that when meltdowns begin (even parents have meltdowns) you can get out quickly and without feeling rude to the hostess.
• Try aiming for New Years! Rather than add Christmas cards to my to-do list, this year I have decided to send my Christmas cards in the days right AFTER Christmas for a New Year tiding. I took some cute photos of the baby at Christmas and have included one in the card. This is a tradition I plan to stick with in future years - for tradition and sanity sake.
• Homemade gifts are always appropriate! Most goodies can be prepared well in advance and frozen for up to three months. I began baking the weekend following Thanksgiving & haven't stopped yet. Another plus is that these gifts are the most versatile (yes, you can sometimes even go wrong with gift certificates). You can make any recipe - always check on nut allergies though - in any size, for any person. That way you don't forget the mail man, dog groomer, or babysitter & you can even ship goodies-in-a-jar to your out of town friends and family for a much appreciated taste of home.
• Get Help! By now your probably thinking of a psychiatrist, but that's not the kind I mean. Enlist friends to help with decorating & take down (offer wine & cheese or dinner in return). Assign your partner to help watch the baby while you wrap, bake, or shop. In general, delegate as much & for as often as possible!
SMILE & REJOICE
It is so easy to get caught up in the bah humbug of the holiday season but if there is anything that you take from these tips for holiday survival, have it be this - you already have the most cherished gift of all - your child, so take stock in that & everything will work out. Even if you're late, or forget someone all together, everyone will understand so take a deep breath & enjoy your first (or any number) holiday with your most beloved! So here's to a happy (sane) New Year to all you other parents out there in the 'Rain!