Setting “Sticky” Christmas Boundaries
The Thanksgiving bird is done, and the leftovers, too! Now, we’re off to the Crazy Christmas Shopping races, or are we?
It seems like a race, but isn’t it always like that for family caregivers? Sometimes I feel like the list goes on and on, holidays or not. But it doesn’t have o be that way. We can say no to some things.
Will it ruffle a few feathers? Maybe. But saying no might be just the thing to add to your Christmas list. And you don’t have to wait until Christmas to receive this gift—this is one we give ourselves.
I’m talking about the gift of freedom through realistic boundaries.
Deciding what you will say YES and NO to establishes your "sticky" boundaries.
Here are a few examples:
- Yes, I can bring a pie. No, I can’t volunteer to set up the Potluck Dinner.
- Yes, I’ll go to church next Sunday. No, I can’t prepare to teach Sunday school on Christmas Eve.
- Yes, I would love to have Mom over for Christmas dinner. No, I can’t do Mom’s Christmas shopping and wrapping and my sister’s, too. (That’s been a real thing for this caregiver, more on that later.)
Whatever your yes’s and no’s are this year, own them. Stick to them like tree sap. (Remember the Christmas Vacation scene with Clark and Ellen reading People magazine in bed after installing a giant, fresh, sappy Christmas tree? Yeh, sticky like that. HA!).
And don’t let anyone make you feel like your boundaries don’t matter. They matter to you, and that's enough.
Good boundaries protect our mental, physical, and spiritual health and personal time (something family caregivers don’t have much of).
You’ll experience the freedom to do everything you need and want to do within those boundaries—more time to do the necessary and fun things.
Seven Steps for Setting "Sticky" Christmas Boundaries:
- We're in the first full week of December, so take the next few days to figure out your boundaries during this holiday season.
- Write out your new boundaries on a "sticky" note. (Do you see a theme here?)
- Take a picture of it with your phone and set it as your phone wallpaper.
- Post the "sticky" note where you’ll see it every day.
- Practice what you’re going to say when a "sticky" situation presents itself, like someone asking you to do something outside of your boundaries.
- Rehearse it several times.
- Then say it with they ask.
Don’t go overboard setting boundaries, especially if this is your first time. Just a few will help you maintain your smile through to the New Year.
My Crazy Christmas Shopping Experience
Now, let’s go back to my story about doing Christmas shopping & wrapping for three different people. That has been me for the last ten years. I shopped for and wrapped like this:
- Gifts from me to my family, including my mom and sister.
- Gifts from Mom to my family and my sister.
- Gifts from my sister for my family and our mom.
Boy, it's exhausting just reading it, let alone doing it.
It is all too much, not necessary, and no longer fun. Honestly, it was never that much fun for me, but Mom insisted. I know Mom only wanted to do nice things for her family, so I continued the crazy Christmas shopping, even after becoming my sister’s full-time caregiver about five years ago.
But Mom is 93 now, and my dear sister, Michelle, is in a nursing home. So, this year, I’m saying “NO” to crazy Christmas shopping and “YES” to spending quality time with my family, including Mom and Michelle.
How about you? You probably have a similar family caregiver story. Why not consider setting your own "sticky" boundaries and see what happens? Maybe you'll find more room for what really matters this Christmas season. I sure hope so.
𝐼'𝓂 𝓅𝓇𝒶𝓎𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝒻𝑜𝓇 𝑒𝒶𝒸𝒽 𝑜𝒻 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓉𝑜 𝒽𝒶𝓋𝑒 𝒶 𝒽𝒶𝓅𝓅𝓎 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝒽𝑒𝒶𝓁𝓉𝒽𝓎 𝒞𝒽𝓇𝒾𝓈𝓉𝓂𝒶𝓈 𝓈𝑒𝒶𝓈𝑜𝓃 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝒷𝑒𝓎𝑜𝓃𝒹.
𝘕𝘖𝘛𝘐𝘊𝘌 𝘈𝘕𝘠𝘛𝘏𝘐𝘕𝘎 𝘋𝘐𝘍𝘍𝘌𝘙𝘌𝘕𝘛 𝘛𝘏𝘐𝘚 𝘕𝘌𝘞𝘚𝘓𝘌𝘛𝘛𝘌𝘙?
𝘞𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦! 𝘍𝘪𝘳𝘴𝘵, 𝘪𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘍𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘊𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘳, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘊𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘰𝘯. 𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘐 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘸𝘦'𝘷𝘦 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘯 𝘢 𝘬𝘦𝘦𝘱𝘦𝘳 -- 𝘊𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘚𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨.
𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘴 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘐 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶. 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦. 𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘦, 𝘮𝘺 𝘧𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘥.
"𝘏𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘐 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶? 𝘉𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘰𝘶𝘴. 𝘋𝘰 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘥, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘥𝘰 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘮𝘢𝘺𝘦𝘥, 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘎𝘰𝘥 𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘨𝘰.” –𝘑𝘰𝘴𝘩𝘶𝘢 1:9 (𝘌𝘚𝘝)
Would you let me know what you think about the new name -- CAREGIVER STRONG?