Preventing Holiday Burnout
by Esther Pransky, Lubicom Staff
The World Health Organization now recognizes employee burnout as an official condition. Symptoms include “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.”
What would they would say about the holiday marathon from Rosh Hashanah through Simchat Torah?
Yes, holiday burnout is real.
But aren’t the holidays meant to be uplifting and joyous? Is it possible to find the sweet spot between “busy” and “burnt out?”
Is there any chance of finding the “holy” in the holiday?
There’s no silver bullet, but we can look at some ideas to take the pressure off the coming weeks.
Holiday Food Shopping
Hands down, grocery shopping is the most inefficient task on your to-do list.
Think about it: Every item gets touched at least five times before it comes to rest in your pantry or fridge.
And, all those little trips to the grocery store eat up more time than we’d like to admit.
So, when it comes to holiday burnout, the first item to tackle is food shopping.
And it starts with planning your menu.
No, not for today. Not even for this coming Shabbos.
For EVERY MEAL between now and Simchat Torah.
It sounds crazy, but once you’re done, you’ll feel incredibly accomplished, almost as if you already cooked all that food.
And even though you’re going to make changes as the weeks unfold, you’re now armed with lots of valuable information, like how many batches of grilled chicken you’ll need or how many jars of duck sauce to buy.
You can consolidate and eliminate trips to the supermarket.
Even better, order your groceries online. You’ll cut out HOURS spent putting items in and out of your grocery cart.
The downsides to grocery delivery are mistakes and the surcharge, but when your time is at a premium, it may be worth it.
Your freezer is your best friend during the holidays.
- Cook in double and triple batches. You have your trusty menu to guide you.
- Prepping onions is a HUGE timesaver. You can “sauté” a big batch of onions in the oven, then bag and freeze them in portions.
- For even bigger time savings, use frozen sautéed glazed onions from Dorot Gardens.
- Clean and freeze chicken in advance. This works for bone-in or boneless. If you’re really on top of your game, you can freeze the chicken in a marinade.
“Cook once, eat twice.”
Your kids might groan at the thought of leftovers, but with some creativity, you can slip it by them.
- Take your leftover grilled chicken, cube it, freeze it, and serve a delicious grilled chicken salad next holiday.
- You may not have enough meatballs or salmon left to serve as a main, but you can use them as an appetizer.
- If there’s not enough of a dish left to serve on a platter, divide it into mini or individual cups and serve buffet style. Even leftovers look fancy when they’re mini.
Keep the Kids Busy
Unstructured time + not enough sleep + too much sugar + distracted mother = Bored, fighting, unhappy children.
Add in some rainy days or sick kids, and this could be the last straw for your sanity.
What to do?
Accept the inevitable - There will always be some boredom, fighting, and unhappiness. Don’t let the imperfections get to you. (Hint: That family picture on your friend’s Facebook page? It was taken in between tantrums.)
Be proactive - Order a new game or two for Yom Tov. Arrange holiday playdates and chol hamoed trips in advance. Empower the older kids to run a “camp” for the younger ones. Involve children in the holiday prep and reward them with a trip or treat.
Give a gift – Not another toy, but the gift of a calm, present mother. Cut out the extra side, buy some dips, or do whatever else it takes to give you more time with your family.
Taking Care of Number One
“If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
Taking care of yourself makes everything else fall into place.
Practice saying, “No.” And you may need to tell it to yourself most of all. Giving yourself permission to use shortcuts like using plasticware or buying some prepared food can go a long way towards preventing burnout.
“No, I do not need to use real dishes for every meal.”
“No, I am not making that cool new recipe everyone’s talking about that has 15 steps and uses ingredients I can only get on the other side of town.”
“No, I will not turn down offers of help.” (Why do we do that, anyway?)
You can use the time you save to hang out with the family, read a book, listen to a class, or get more sleep.
Will the holidays be a relaxing vacation? Unlikely.
Give up the aim for perfection, and instead, try to find moments within the madness to connect to your family and the deeper meaning of the holidays.