1001 Tips for Military Families - Tip #471

Making Time

As the holidays draw closer and closer for many of us there seems like an endless list of things to do, buy, wrap, make, go to, etc.  It tires me out just thinking about it (and then I flop down and watch a couple of hours of Netflix and accomplish nothing)!  This time of year I always try hard not to get caught up in the gifts and things but more in the time with friends and family, doing things with the people I love and letting them know how I feel.  This is always easier said than done, however, here are the tips that I have followed for the last few years and they have really helped me to retain my sanity and have a lot of fun too.

Holiday Sanity Savers -

  1. Bake easy things - I looked through my cookbooks and chose cookies and desserts that are easy to bake and not going to require a ton of steps or days of planning and prep.
  2. Hire a wrapper (not rapper) - My teenager did the majority of the wrapping and this alone gave me hours of additional time!  It also forced me to carefully sort through everything so I knew exactly what I had.
  3. Shopped for it all in one weekend -  In the past my shopping has been spread out over a couple of months.  I think that I spent more (forgot what I had already bought) and wasted a lot of time going back and forth.
  4. Electronic Christmas letter and photo - I know that some people really prefer paper so I did 10 of those and everyone else is getting the electronic version.  It saves money and a lot of time but I am still able to keep in touch with people and share our year.
  5. Made a meal plan for the week of Christmas - this way there is little thinking or prep to do and more time to be spent having fun with the kids
  6. Combining Events - Rather than having 2, 3 or 4 dinners we have invited people to one.  This way we get to see all the people that are important to us but also aren’t cooking and cleaning the holiday away but have time to do other things with our kids and just relax together.
  7. Reality Break - Our kids are in competitive sports and while it is wonderful for them and they love it the holidays are a good time to take a break for all of us.  Even though we aren’t going away, we are going to behave like we are and mark ourselves as busy for two weeks.  Everyone needs a break from reality (and from being a taxi service).  I have put an auto message on my email and stepped away from work until the new year (I know everyone is not as lucky as I am to have 2 weeks off but step away for the time you do have).
  8. Nothing Day - Over the holidays have a day scheduled and planned where no one has to do a thing.  There are no commitments or obligations - no one even has to get out of pyjamas or brush their hair.  Eat leftovers and only do things that you want to do.
  9. Make a list - Everyone makes a list of things that they really want to do, must do and really don’t want to do.  This way we get a sense of what is important, can prioritize as a family and let go of some things that no one wanted to do in the first place.  Having said this - a large portion of my family would love not to have to decorate the tree.  As a parent, give yourself veto power so you get the tree you want and everyone slaps a smile on their faces as they decorate it!
  10. Take Photos - On Christmas day, to make your life easier, use your phone to take photos of gifts & the tag so that you remember who gave what to you and your family members.


Happy Holidays!  From my family to yours. 

Living It - Weeks 18, 19 & 20

Pamper Yourself - Tip #9

I am convinced that I didn’t write this tip during a deployment as finding the time to pamper myself has been somewhat of a joke.  But I was determined to try and follow my own advice, even if it meant getting a pedicure and then coming home to clean the house.  You may have also noticed that this tips spans three weeks.  That is how long (even though some of it was over the holidays) it took me to carve out time to do things for myself.

I still believe in this tip but making the time to do things for yourself is NOT EASY!  Having said this, it was so worth doing and something everyone should do regardless if you are experiencing a deployment or not.

My Tips & The Results:

* Get a Pedicure - I went with my best friend and I felt so good being pampered like that.  Go to a place where they also have the massage chairs… so worth it!

* Get Your Hair Done - It feels so much better when I look in the mirror when all my grey isn’t staring back at me!  It didn’t even matter that I had no where to go and that my kids didn’t even notice.  I noticed and felt great.

* Go Shopping & Only Buy for Yourself - I think that this bit of advice may need some tweeking…  when time is precious there was no way I was going to be in a mall and not pick up the other things my kids needed BUT I did go with the purpose of finding something I will feel great in.  Got a fabulous sweater!

* Go for a Massage - Not going to lie…  didn’t get to it.  There really aren’t enough hours in a day BUT I did beg a few friends for a quick neck one and then booked one for a month’s time (something to look forward to).

* Get Dressed Up and Go to a Fancy Dinner - Over the holidays my goal was to see how many consecutive days I could year yoga type pants (no zipper and all comfort - I lasted 3 days!).  Getting dressed up felt like another hassle so while we did go out to a nice place but I wouldn’t say any of us made too much of an effort with our appearance.  Drying and brushing my hair was all the fancy they got!  It was nice to go out to eat, to eat something that wasn’t fast food and not to have to shop for it, prepare it or clean up after it!

I am so glad that I chose this tip.  When I looked at it I thought it was the perfect time to do it and that it would be easy.  It was nothing short of miraculous that I made time for myself this holiday and I don’t regret a minute of it.  I am really going to work on carving out a pampering time for myself each week - even if it is only to take a bath in silence or read (uninterrupted) for an hour.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot but the benefits will keep on giving and giving.

Pamper yourself

For more information about our books, tips and resources go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

More Tips for Military Families - #104

When You Get Back Jar or Box - Tip #104

Throughout my husband’s deployments I was always writing or saying “When you get back we will…”  When he got back, I realized later, that we didn’t do half of the things that we said we do and mainly because we had forgetten them or everyday life got in the way!  When they are back from a long absence or deployment it is easy to get right back into the everyday routine and let the little things keep you busy.  Things have changed - your family has changed and so have you.  Sometimes the changes are so small you don’t see them, too big to talk about or left unsaid thinking it is better that way.  Talking, spending time together and fufilling some of the promises you made are really important steps to getting your lives together back on track.

* Create a box or jar just for this purpose

* Decorate the jar/box any way you wish and write on it “When you get back”

* Each day or week (or when you think of it) write down something you would like to talk about or do when they are back

* If they write promises put them in there too - if it is an email print it, if they say it on a video conference or phone call write it down after the call and put it in the box

* Include things that you think that they would really enjoy and not just things that benefit others (I would definitely be tempted to write “When you get back you will watch the kids for 9 months while I have a pedicure and massage and watch my favourite TV shows in silence!)

* Don’t make every promise a big one - the should be realistic and fairly easy to accomplish

* Let your friends and family know that you are doing this and explain that you might need their help from time to time to fufill these (people can sometimes think that now your loved one is back, you don’t need the help - you do)

Some ideas for the jar/box:

- When you get back, you can sleep in for as long as you like

- When you get back,we will go to the movies

- When you get back,we will talk about what the hardest thing for me was and what the hardest thing was for you was

- When you get back, I will make dinner and do the dishes

- When you get back,we will take the kids on a holiday together to  _______________

- When you get back, I will make you breakfast in bed

- When you get back, I will talk to you about what I want to talk to you about  _______

- When you get back, I will give you a back massage

- When you get back, we need to make a plan for our finances and set some goals of things we would like to do

- When you get back, we can go to the comedy club in ___________

Come up with ones that would fit your lives, budget and interests.  It is easy to say that you will do something but when you write it down you are making a bigger committment to do it and I truly believe this will help you with re-integrating your lives back together after being apart for so long.

For more information about our tips, resources or books go to: http://www.whileyouwereaway.org

To submit a tip of your own, write to: [email protected]


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,148 other followers

Build a website with WordPress.com