samson kids christmas dog (2)

A very young Michaela and Daniel Bylsma, with the Christmas Dog, Samson.

Holidays and weekends are wonderful. Many of us get to enjoy a footloose and fancy free attitude. We get to “let down.”

But often this change in our routine  brings with it some challenging trials to navigate.

Often we get a sense of “safety” and predictability from our “business as usual” routine during the week when we don’t have holiday happenings, weekend wanderings, or guests landing on our doorsteps. So managing these “zaps” to our routine require intentionality!

The question becomes: How can we incorporate some sense of predictability and a friendly bit of routine into our weekends or holidays or when family/friends are visiting without ruining the experience?

1. ) Integrating some aspect of predictability into our lives can be very helpful without spoiling the party! Sometimes, I call this “planned spontaneity.” For instance, if we know that the family really enjoys suddenly jumping in the car to go out looking at Christmas lights followed by a stop at the favorite Marie Callendar’s for pie, it can help us to plan to be at a zero for this event if we are intentional about the timing of the “surprise” visit out to look at the lights and to enjoy pie. Rather than leave these sorts of events up to chance, we can build the joy and suspense in our family members’ lives by surprising them with a plan earlier in the day. I have found that the family looks forward to the event and the joy isn’t diminished. In fact, it seems to be intensified in a fun way as we anticipate the outing all day! AND I get the added benefit of not having left something like that to chance when I might still be satisfied after having dinner just an hour prior. I can plan to be hungry so that I eat pie guilt-free!

2. ) When company comes to visit, I know that meals may not be quite so predictable. Having an assortment of nuts and fresh fruit/veggies available for pre-meal munching if we get hungry before the meal is ready can be a life-saver! This eliminates the concern that we will get too hungry before the holiday feast is prepared. That said, however, we have also learned over the years that we won’t melt into nothingness if we get hungry even an hour before we gather at the table and the meal is ready. “When in doubt, leave it out” is a helpful adage. Having company doesn’t need to spell disaster for our 0 to 5 boundaries. Instead, we can commit ourselves to honoring our godly boundaries, call on God’s strength and have some “fortifications” on hand that we can turn to if we need to. Knowing that foods are accessible any time we get hungry, but also that we are perfectly safe and ok if we get hungry and linger there for a little while, helps prevent the panicked eating we sometimes do when things are less predictable.

3.) For me, to maintain my focus and not give in to continuous celebratory grazing during holiday time, I have to carve out time to renew my mind each day at least once, if not twice. I can do this by setting my alarm a bit earlier than normal so that I take the time to be still with the Lord before company or family members awaken or arrive. Lately, I also take time at 5pm each evening to refocus…to recommit my eating to the Lord for the evening–even five minutes helps! While this may seem to be a sacrifice that is too great for us when we would rather use those extra moments to sleep in or to relax, I have found that it is worth it. Establishing a priority to taking time to bible study, review Truth Cards, Truth Journal, listen to Sound Cloud files, journal a set of “I Deserve a Donut” questions or other similar activities brings me out the other side with a sense of accomplishment and victory! It is worth it!

What About You?

What baby step of routine can you incorporate into the days ahead that lead up to Christmas? What about for Christmas Day? How will you maintain your godly boundaries in spite of the challenges to your routine? If you share here, you may inspire and encourage others!