"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> urbanMamas

Sunday blues worse during the holidays?

We've written before about the looming stress that comes with a Sunday afternoon. All that we'd intended to do, and didn't, seems to come smacking toward us with the weight of a still-frozen turkey. No matter what our smart strategies for planning the day, no matter how great our kids and our fun times together have been, oh! the things that are undone, the immense go-all-the-time expectations of the week ahead seem overwhelming.

Today it's worse than usual for me, and I was already feeling the stressful anticipation yesterday. I'd meant to finish an important essay over the "relaxing holiday weekend" -- I haven't even opened the file since I made my last changes over a week ago. I know I shouldn't expect so much of myself over a holiday; it's not really a vacation when I'm mama of three, and especially not as a military-enabled single mama; but I do it anyway. I finished one pair of those mittens I meant to knit, I mucked my chicken coop, I spread my compost, I sheet-mulched a bunch of my garden, I did a little work (so I'll have money for Christmas gifts! or at least Christmas-coincident bills!), but how did I make my list so long and near-unachievable?

Anyway, I've gotten myself into a serious funk, and almost started sobbing on the phone with my husband. He told me something about how he was making plans for Everett to take martial arts classes with one of his high school friends. His comment about "it takes a village" was right on the money, but the village isn't up to my dreams; my needs from the village are way bigger than that. I've been biting back the mama meltdown all day.

Does this happen to you too -- the Sunday stress seems worse as a holiday period comes to a close? Do you, too, pack too many things into your imaginary relaxing, productive times? Do you ever sit back and wonder, in the midst of enjoying this family time, when your vacation is going to be? Or have you developed some great strategies for dealing with these blues?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Try taking fish oil and vitamin D if you're not already doing so. It makes a huge difference for me. I recently started giving my moody son large doses of D as well and it's made a big difference for him too.

Definitely can empathize with your post, I have been particularly blue the last few days. As usual I had unrealistic expectations of my family for the Thanksgiving Holiday. My mom came from Seattle and I got in two arguments with her (not pretty). I thought it was going to be this bonding time and it wasn't. JC, I agree taking fish oil and vitamin D greatly helps and I have my boys take vitamin D as well.

I hadn't thought about the holidays making the Sunday blues worse until I read your post, and I have to agree. I expect even more from myself during the holidays, and I keep increasing my desire to give handmade gifts, which are a lot more work for me. I should have realized I was feeling overwhelmed when I made myself two to-do lists yesterday (in addition to the holiday gift list). Hmm, time to slow down. I'm thinking of you, Sarah.

Oh, the comment about when MY vacation time will come hit home. Even with a very engaged partner and only 2 children, I'm exhausted all the time. I frequently half-joke about coming to work "to rest" -- and that's after trimming my christmas list to the bone. *Sigh*

Ditto Jean. I have two and a helpful partner and I still can't get it all done.
Sarah, I have no idea how you accomplish raising three boys, writing and other creative projects and being such a great home maker, with your partner not around to give you a break!
I do home made christmas as well, but each year the family keeps growing. Aaargh!
I wonder if modern conveniences add to our feelings of too much to do more than parenting and keeping in touch with our other needs.

I wrote a few weeks ago about a similar feeling...my life of "almost" and it hit a major nerve with friends in my mama community. I received a lot of phone calls and emails after that one... http://legosinthelaundry.blogspot.com/2010/11/my-life-of-almost.html
Seems like it's common practice for us, as mamas, to have (unrealistically?) high expectations for ourselves and our families...and maybe it's all just compounded as we approach the holidays? The higher the expectation, the harder we fall if it's not met?

I don't necessarily have a solution. I try to live a balanced week, rather than a balanced day and that seems to help--I may not cross everything off for the day, but over the course of a week it seems to even out. The major stuff gets done, and the rest either has to wait or get let go. And I count my blessings...I'm a lucky girl with a life that exceeds my childhood expectations of what my grown-up life would look like in nearly every way, so I try to focus on the positive--on what I do have, and what I have accomplished, on my healthy, happy, rambunctious little family.

We have a a small child, pets, friends, 2 jobs, a big yard for which I am primarily responsible, and I'm a bit of a neat freak and planner. I definitely have found myself exhausted Sunday night with some-but-not-all of my goals for the weekend met. And feeling resentful that I'm so tired, with the work week starting! I think I've learned about what actually I CAN accomplish in a weekend and still feel happy (and productive). During the holidays, I'm being more selective about what I prioritize for the weekend-- because really, if my dead shrubs sit unpruned for another week, does it matter? Is it worth being worn out getting it done on top of everything else-- or should I putter around with my daughter for that hour instead? I guess avoiding my feelings of resentment/frustration/disappointment is more important to me than getting it all done, the way it could be done in an ideal world...

I know this feeling! And I have a partner and only two kids.

Sarah, do you enjoy the projects, the knitting, the chickens/coop upkeep, etc? Because if it isn't relaxing and totally nice for you I say get rid of it. I know people who swear they love their hobbies but in reality their hobbies stress them out so much, cost so much money, and are just one more thing they feel pressured to finish! I personally dropped a hobby that I thought I enjoyed and with that extra time I do NOTHING. I mean nothing. I feel I've earned it and doing nothing is harder than it sounds. I'm aiming for a minimalist life - by that I do not mean "simple" in a homemade way that means more work for me. I mean not doing, not owning, not participating in, anything that complicates my life in a negative way. We go small, not big. The garden is basic and small and unkempt. I kind of knit but take months, even years, to finish an item. Slow and low, that is the tempo. Its a challenge because I am highly distractible but it has helped a lot. Here's to all the busy mamas!

You may have noticed that my food blog has not been updated in about three weeks. Hopefully you haven't. It's just One More Thing.

Get this: I have decided to allow myself to hibernate a little, and to prioritize only the "musts" - to hell with the "shoulds." And hey, eating pasta three nights a week doesn't really hurt, it turns out.

We love you even if you don't do everything (and even if you say 'no' sometimes, too). xoxo

(...in full disclosure, though, I do feel like a huge flake and a failure not keeping all of my plates spinning.)

And being role models to the small people in our lives make us want to do more --for ourselves, them, the world -- with less time than we used to have!

The comments to this entry are closed.