Reflecting on Post-Holiday Fatigue

Reflecting on Post-Holiday Fatigue

It’s the day after Christmas. It’s been a little over a year since I ‘retired’ from teaching and started my new life.

What I am realizing though is that I no longer have an endless well of energy from which to draw. Since early in December, I’ve been doing all the holiday preparations, visiting with family and friends, and doing other holiday activities that I somehow managed to do while working fulltime. But now, it takes more energy, and perhaps I expect more of myself since I no longer have a fulltime job.

Maybe a Bit Bossy

A couple of days before Christmas, we had a houseful of company (family) from out of town. Of course, we were delighted to have a family visit. But after cleaning, preparing guest rooms, shopping, wrapping gifts, and planning meals, I felt like I needed a nap by the time company arrived.

I don’t have any problems accepting help when I’m preparing meals. When I need help, I ask for it. Our family also is very good about offering to help. However, I did get a little ‘blowback’ when family members suggested I was being a bit “bossy” at times.

What Worked and What Could Work Better

I was pleased that I had simplified some of my preparations this year—I am learning. However, I will still need to adjust a bit more before next year’s holiday season.

I have control over my own schedule. Next year, I will not schedule so many events back-to-back and will plan farther in advance when possible.

Because I have more flexibility in my schedule, I’ve been able to maintain a fairly disciplined exercise routine. I’ve also managed to eat generally healthy foods during the holidays—at least for the most part. That did help my stamina and focus quite a bit. However, I know I didn’t get enough ‘good’ nights of sleep over the past couple of weeks. After our company left, I napped for hours over the next few days and crashed each night. I need a better strategy for maintaining a good night’s sleep over the holidays.

Fast-paced Multi-tasking More Difficult as We Age

I recently talked with a friend about how much more difficult it has become to stay focused when handling large family dinners. My friend laughed and then shared that she had also noticed how much more difficult it was to cook big family meals when so much of this work involves fast-paced multi-tasking—something that becomes more difficult for most of us as we age.

I think it could help if I level with younger family members when appropriate. I need to tell them that I cannot do all the things I once did with the same degree of energy.  I will need to be more specific about the kinds of help I could use when hosting family gatherings. That will take some thought on my part.

The Need for Communication

By communicating in advance, I suspect I’ll be less likely to be perceived as ‘bossy’—although, I also wonder if my husband would have been perceived in the same way had he been in charge of meal preparations. Sometimes, I think we can get trapped in the traditional notion of the cheerful grandparent cooking in the kitchen (or puttering in the shop) with not a stress or care in sight. Sometimes I think we also trap ourselves in those roles, believing we have to live up to an image that might not be so realistic.

With that, to all a good night!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Rick De Young

    I wish you well on this journey, Paula, but I can tell from experience it only gets worse from this point on. As soon as you quit being the supermom, and “hostess we with the mostest” the appreciation level from your kids and their spouses diminishes rapidly and you become a problem in their minds. By the time you are 80, you’re not always invited, let alone welcome, for their holiday events. It’s sad, but true.
    Here’s a better idea: Next season, go on a great warm weather holiday cruise with your hubby and leave the kids at home. You have only so many years left and the kids will appreciate you more than if they’re trying to fit you into their holiday plans, or vice versa.

    1. Paula Usrey

      No doubt some truth in your perspective, Rick. Thanks for sharing.

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