How to Have a Peaceful Christmas at Home (A Guide to Annual Leave for Homemakers)

Christmas is just around the corner, and in this post I share one of my favourite homemaking traditions. Each year at Christmas, I take at least a week’s holiday from my normal homemaking routine, and I fondly call this tradition annual leave for homemakers.

My annual leave for homemakers takes place in my favourite place on earth—my home. My holiday always consists of three simple, restful activities, and these three activities combine to create the perfect recipe for a peaceful Christmas at home.

This post is part of the How to Have a Holiday at Home series.

Activity #1: Intentional Relaxation

During my homemaker’s annual leave, I allow myself to spend more time than usual on intentional relaxation. I prioritise intentional relaxation because I find it crucial for helping me to recover, both physically and mentally, from a year of working in my home.

There are two features that an activity must satisfy in order to be classified as intentional relaxation:

  1. It must be easy. For intentional relaxation, I avoid any activities that are overly strenuous or challenging.
  2. It must be enjoyable. I get best results when I fill my intentional relaxation time with activities that bring me joy.

My favourite activity, by far, for intentional relaxation is reading—but not just any kind of reading. During my homemaker’s annual leave, I love to re-read my favourite Christmas-themed books.

Although there is delight in discovering new books, I find that there is nothing more restorative than revisiting an old favourite. No matter how many times I have read the words before, the magic never fades, and the familiar scenes never fail to touch my heart.

The pastime of re-reading old books is an ode to slow living. It is an activity that connects us to generations of people before us, for whom re-reading books was the norm.

Suggestion: If your household cares have left you feeling frazzled and fretful, carve out some time for intentional relaxation. This year, I will be sipping homemade hot chocolate and re-reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Activity #2: Do Something Creative

During my homemaker’s annual leave, I also spend time on a creative project. I believe that doing something creative is a crucial ingredient to a restorative break. Creative pastimes have the ability to completely absorb your attention, giving you a welcome respite from ruminating on homemaking.

Working on a creative project can also help you get better at homemaking. I have noticed that when I spend time creating, I subsequently feel more inspired when I return to homemaking.

Here are my tips for choosing a suitable project for your annual leave:

  • Challenge yourself. A project that is too easy can make you feel bored, so look for a project that is pleasantly challenging, without being frustrating.
  • Keep it small. Choose a project that you can finish within your annual leave, so that you can start the new year with a pleasing sense of accomplishment.
  • Choose more than one. If time permits, you can work on two or more projects during your annual leave.

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some examples of creative projects that can be completed within a few days:

  • Bake and decorate a Yule log
  • Hand knit a cosy blanket
  • Sketch and paint a Christmas card
  • Learn to play one Christmas carol
  • Make a tiny needle felted ornament

Suggestion: Give your mind and body a refreshing break from homemaking by devoting yourself to a creative pursuit. This year, I will be using gouache to paint some little scenes to put into my scrapbook.

Activity #3: Review Your Homemaking Routines

Our lives are in a constant state of change, and as we age, our homemaking routines should evolve with us. The end of a calendar year is the perfect time to review your homemaking routines.

Here is a three step process for reviewing your homemaking routine:

Step 1: Locate the Sticking Points

The first step is to figure out the areas in your routine that need improvement. To find these sticking points, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my least favourite homemaking task?
  • Which part of my home causes me the most stress?
  • What do I find most difficult about homemaking?
  • Which chores in my home are constantly left undone?

Step 2: Brainstorm Solutions

Next, it is time to explore some solutions to the problems that you have identified. To unearth solutions to your homemaking problems, ask yourself these questions:

  • How could I do this task differently?
  • How could I make this task more enjoyable?
  • What would someone who was competent at this chore advise me to do?

Step 3: Turn Solutions Into Routines

Finally, it is time to adjust your homemaking routines:

  1. Evaluate. Look at the solutions that you came up with, and create a shortlist of the solutions that seem most promising.
  2. Incorporate. Add each of the shortlisted solutions into your daily, weekly, or monthly routine.
  3. Test. Devote a period of time—I tend to give myself one month—to testing your updated routine.

At the end of your trial period, reflect on your results. At this point, you can keep the solutions that worked well for you, and discard the ones that did not.

Suggestion: End the year on a positive note by reviewing and revamping your homemaking routine. This activity gives your mind immediate relief from homemaking stress. It also primes you for a promising start to the new year.

The Wonderful Paradox of Rest

Do you struggle with allowing yourself to take a break from homemaking? If so, I can sympathise. For many years, I felt incredibly guilty whenever I took time off from homemaking. I mistakenly believed that homemaking was a job that didn’t allow for holidays.

Over the years, I became much better at resting. There are two concepts that deeply encouraged me to take more rest, and I want to share them with you now.

The first concept is that resting is not the same as being irresponsible. I’m not asking you to drop all your homemaking duties in favour of spending all day on the couch. To rest yourself, you don’t need to stop doing all your homemaking. You simply need to temporarily redistribute your time to give yourself more opportunities to rest.

During your annual leave, you can simplify your homemaking to seven basic daily tasks that take around an hour to complete. To learn about these seven tasks, you can read my step-by-step guide on how to have a holiday at home.

The second concept is the paradox of rest. When you have a long list of unfinished chores, resting can seem ludicrous. Yet the more you rest, the more productive you will be. When you allow yourself to slow down and take a break, you give yourself the opportunity to recharge your mind and body, and you will return to your homemaking with newfound vigour.

I hope today’s post has given you a new perspective on rest. As homemakers, it is crucial for us to treat rest as part of our homemaking, instead of as an optional afterthought. This is a simple mindset, but it is one that makes all the difference between an exhausted, overwhelmed homemaker and a happy, peaceful homemaker.

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