When I host gatherings, my friends and family often say, “You’re so relaxed; how do you do it?” I didn’t know I was relaxed, but, I guess I am! Through years of practice, both at home and in the catering business, I’ve found a rhythm that works best for me.
My style is informal entertaining. Whether we’re in the yard serving a buffet or at the table eating family-style, my aim is to focus on our guests. I want to enjoy our company instead of fussing over something I could have done earlier.
Guests will pick up on our mood and quickly notice if we’re stressed or relaxed. Our emotions set the tone for everyone else. Relaxed entertaining has everything to do with:
No matter how many years have passed since our kids were little, every mom has a vivid grocery store meltdown story. That is our kid’s meltdown, not ours. Well, both are a viable possibility! When I see little children having tantrums at the checkout or hear loud wailing 3 aisles over, all I have is compassion. Even on a good day, packing children in and out while focusing on the task at hand really is a lot of work!
My daughter was sweet and easy, but, my son offered me a strong dose of ‘reality therapy.’ He was like a wild animal throwing things and running off. One time when he
I try always to do everything in moderation so my resolutions are usually around improving something, like cleaning out a closet, organizing my pantry, and telling people how much I appreciate them. Hopefully I am making a new habit not just a resolution.
During last summer’s vacation, Vern and I decided to chew each bite of food 30 times. It’s not a magical number, since chewing depends on what you eat, but, that was our resolution. It’s a healthy choice for aiding digestion, increasing satiety, and maintaining weight. We figured if we spent 2 weeks focusing on chewing we could create a habit.
Our heart is to make the holidays meaningful and magical. Yet, with our lists being long and our time being short, pressure looms like the Grinch around every corner. Here are some stress busters that have helped me keep the joy, and be a joy, during the busy holiday season.
1. Creating nostalgic traditions at the holidays is important. Try to Scale Down and be Satisfied with Good Enough. We all set expectations on ourselves that could use some serious reevaluating and downsizing. We can get carried away from lighting one tree to lighting the porch, yard, deck, windows, and the 2nd and 3rd trees. It’s beautiful, but, takes so much time! If I loved stringing lights, I’d cut corners elsewhere, but, this year I’m being selective and decorating just one tree and my entryway.
2. Delegate. If my guests offer to help, I accept. I’ve found especially at parties, giving friends tasks like answering the door, serving beverages, and setting out food diminishes social discomfort and turns casual neighbors into good friends. Teen girls are fun to include as I work through holiday responsibilities like shopping, wrapping,
From Jill of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Sent to our Bradford Village store in Harrisburg, PA—April 25, 2008
“As a new mom, one of the biggest adjustments is finding that I have more to do, but less time in which to do it. The baby only sleeps for 45 minutes to an hour at a time, so that does not give me enough time to clean the house, do the laundry, go to the grocery store, not to mention prep and make dinner. I love that, with Dream Dinners, all the prep work is done ahead of time. I’m sure that most people dread the thought of preparing a meal. However with Dream Dinners it is really something to look forward to.”
“I think everyone gets stuck in a rut with the same recipes.
Don’t know where to start?
One way to reduce the stress and anxiety produced by an overcrowded schedule is to complete things systematically before you start new projects.
Review your calendar for the week, the day or even the hour. Then pick one item you need to get done or one decision that you can make in five minutes or less. Make a phone call? Send an e-mail? Decide what to have for lunch? Go for a walk?
Once you’ve finished it, cross that item off and say out loud: Done! No matter how small the task, give yourself credit for completing it. As your list shrinks, your sense of control and competence grows. One success sets you up for another.
Source: Recharge in Minutes, by Suzanne Zoglio, PhD, TowerHill Press
If you decide to go back to work after having a child, give yourself time to adjust. It’s natural to miss your baby and even feel sad at times. Small steps like these can make it easier:
- If possible, return gradually by slowly increasing the number of days you work per week.
- Do some tasks at home during your maternity leave such as answering e-mails or online research.
- Before you return, visit the office to catch up on company news and introduce your baby to your co-workers.
- If you’re still nursing, talk to your employer about a private room where you and other new moms may be able to pump breast milk.
- Allow at least two weeks to prepare for the time when you’ll first be away from your baby. You can start alternating breast and bottle feeding when your baby is three to four weeks old.
- Try to find child care near your workplace and arrange to leave your child there once or twice before you start work. Ask the caregiver to feed the baby while you’re gone.
- Get support from other working moms at your workplace or through organizations like the La Leche League (www.lalecheleague.org) or the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (www.hmhb.org).
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
Bad habits: we all have them. But when those habits involve our health – as so many do – it’s even more important to get them under control. Our well-being is what allows us to care for our families as well as model to our kids how to embrace a positive lifestyle. And, of course, our health is at stake!
We love good news. And good news that involves chocolate is the best kind of all.
While you’ve no doubt heard that dark chocolate may be healthy for you, in a recent clinical trial, it actually reduced the stress of 30 people who ate it every day for two weeks. Not only that, it also positively impacted other stress-related biochemical imbalances.
Is it magic in a sweet morsel?
The homey goodness of family life is most often nurtured in the kitchen. Here, we gather to savor delicious meals together and enjoy relationships that matter most important to us. Unfortunately, because the kitchen is Grand Central Station to both food and family, it’s one of the hardest areas to keep clean.
A chronically messy kitchen doesn’t promote peace and calm, and trying to cook among a clutter of dirty dishes is downright overwhelming – especially during the holidays. That’s when baking special cookies, preparing more elaborate meals and taking on other traditions can seriously undermine the cleanest of kitchens.