Posts tagged #schedule

How to Not Stress Out This Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is behind us . . .  Let the craziness begin!!!

Do you feel it?  The stress and the rush of this time of year just arrived.   It started this morning (or last night) with Black Friday.   It will continue on until December 25th.  You will add decorating the whole house (inside and out), lots of activities and parties (all fun!), shopping, wrapping, baking . . . . you know the drill!  All added to your regular schedule.  Ah, have I stressed you out?

I have spent many years frenzied and hectic - not being able to accomplish this task of doing everything perfect at Christmas.  There is only so much time in each day and only 25 days in the month to accomplish so much!  When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, I had my surgery right before the holiday season. I was panicked I would not be able to pull off the normal Christmas for my kids.  And then at the end of those 6 weeks surgery recovery, my sweet dad died. I was in grieving mode and planning a funeral at the beginning of December. So Christmas 2011 was going to be different. It really got me thinking about the purposes in all of the traditions we did as a family and all of the busyness of the holiday. God reformed my way of thinking so that I can seize the season and experience more of Jesus!

If you go to my house right now and open any drawer or closet, you will most likely find a mess.  Some of them might be clean, but not all.  I am naturally a procrastinator.  I don’t want anyone to think I am super organized. I work best under pressure and that is how I used to approach Christmas. Because the old me would run crazy through Christmas so busy that I could barely hold my breath.  I was terribly rushed through the beauty of this lovely time of year.  My time with the Lord suffered, my relationship with my husband and kids suffered, my life was just one blurry mess.  Then it was over and I felt depressed because I never got to “enjoy” it. 

Does anyone else feel that way?  Or have you? 

First, in order to be sane in the month of December, I have to have a plan.  My plan starts in August, when I order all the Christmas cards using the family picture we took over the summer or this year in February!  I start shopping in October and planning early. Real Simple has a great list of how to start early.  I know that we are know at the end of November and you will either read them and panic or read them and say “okay I am on track”.  Start where you are today and just do it! In any case, I don’t want you to read this and feel stressed.  My goal is to help you to start with a plan, if not this year, then next. Tackle this year as best as possible. 

Second, I need to remember my priorities.  This is why I make a Christmas plan!  What are my priorities during the holiday season?  What can I forget or what event can’t we miss?  I plan ahead to know those things.  For God is a God of order and not of confusion as we find in 1st Corinthians.  He lays out his plans in Genesis and references us doing the same in Luke.  So this idea is not mine, it is God’s idea for us to be thinking ahead. I like to take everything through a grid.  There are so many events we are invited to in December.  We have a question grid that helps us figure out what to do.

            Here is what we ask:

            Is this part of tradition?

            Does it fit within our desire to serve others and the community?

            Will we grow closer to Jesus as a result of this event?

If it doesn’t fit into this grid of questions, we say “no”.  Sometimes it is hard to say no to the fun things, but it keeps me less stressed and therefore is necessary.  I have created these self-imposed rules to make my life have margin.

Why does all the planning and prioritizing matter?

Because the goal here is Jesus, not the to do list.  Giving ourselves attainable goals is to insure that we are ready and not just flying by the seat of our pants. Having a plan gives us margin, to experience and be all that God wants us to be.  It gives us time to play with our kids, help those we see in need and time to spend in Advent (resting and having a Christmas Sabbath).

We celebrate Advent here at the Young’s house.  I could never do this if I didn’t have a plan.  Every night with the kids we open a book, eat chocolate, pray for the Christmas cards we received and read some scripture.  This is why we celebrate Christmas – to be focused on the coming of our Lord.  There are lots of ways to do Advent.  I love Sarah Mae’s Christmas countdown with ideas on each day and how to bring more of Christ into the season.  In my quiet time and with the kids, I have enjoyed Ann Voscamp’s Advent books bringing to life the birth of Jesus.

Seizing the season means that I am taking back control of the things that I have control over.  Then God will be able to interrupt me will HIS plan!  Nothing is worse than for God to have an assignment for me in the BIG PLAN and I don’t have time for it!

Happy planning friends!  I can’t wait to hear what God does with your margin this year!

~Jeanna Young

When Jeanna is not writing, speaking, event planning, or homeschooling, she can be found scrapbooking her life, redecorating her home, loving on her husband, planning fun events for her kids or eating healthy to stay cancer-free!


Five Times a Week

All great change in America begins at the dinner table” – Ronald Reagan

As we start into the new school year, I begin to protect the family calendar.  More importantly, I have to guard our family dinnertime with all my might.  Every sport and kid activity desires to claim this precious tradition and rob my family of our time together.  The every day moments that make us “The Youngs” are on the line.  The opportunity to pour into my kids during this daily practice will change who they are.

When the kids were little, every meal was at the dinner table.  But as they grow older, our goal is always a minimum of 5 family dinners together.  This can be either sitting down in our home or out to dinner. Meaning, of course, no cell phones, iPad, TV or invited guests.  Dinner together involves my family together – eating, talking, praying, laughing and loving. 

Here are just a couple of benefits:

1.  Your kids will eat more vegetables and new foods that you introduce.  At our house, you are required to eat the vegetable on the table.  Whatever it is.  We started this in the beginning.  They don’t have to finish the starch or the meat, but the veggies?  Definitely!  My kids will only eat a new food at our dinner table.  At least, I can get them to try it!

2. Your kids will be more emotionally healthy.  Studies show kids who eat with their families at least 5 dinners a week are less likely to get depressed, think of suicide or develop an eating disorder.  84% of teens were quoted as saying they would rather eat with their family, but “don’t tell my parents”.

3.  Your kids will learn to say “no”.  Kids who dine with mom and dad regularly are less likely to take a chance smoking, drinking or using drugs.  Connecting with mom and dad on a regular basis gives them the parental engagement most kids are looking for.

4.  Your kids will do better in school.  Only 9% of kids who eat dinner with their families 5 times a week struggle in school compared to the whopping 40% of kids who don’t.  Studies also suggest talking with adults helps vocabulary and manners.

5.  Your kid’s heart will bond to yours.  If you go the extra mile, not just eating together, but conversing and laughing together, your kids won’t want to miss dinner.

What do we do?

Our family starts dinnertime at the preparation where at least two children are involved as part of their daily chores.  One child has the chore of setting the table and one child helps mom prepare.  We rotate day to day.  We get dinner ready and chop vegetables.  Most the kids are happy when there is a new recipe to surprise everyone with or if it is a favorite family meal.  When dinner is over, one child does the dishes so mom can have a break.

When we all sit down to dinner, we have a routine everyone can count on.  First, we wait for everyone to get their food.  Next, we pray and thank the Lord for the food and we bless it to our bodies.  Thirdly, kids eat quietly while mom and dad talk for about 5 minutes.  Honoring my husband this way is always appreciated.  As the kids have gotten older, the rule has gotten more difficult to keep.  Still, it is part of our dinnertime.

We try to make things fun!  We have a box of questions to use to create fun conversation.  Many of our guests request we ask these at dinner.  Also we do what is called “Pits and Peaks”.  Tell us one thing (or more) that went well today or where you saw God at work – PEAK.  Tell us one thing that didn’t go as planned or areas God might be growing you – PIT.  Drawing out my children and hearing about their day (even if I have been with them) is priceless.

So as I am filling in the calendar for the new year, I put in the soccer, tennis, ballet, AWANAs, speech & debate and youth group.  Remembering when will dinner be.  On some days, dinner will be at 5:30 p.m. so we can all get to church and other days it will be at 7:30 p.m. when everyone is home.  Flexibility is the key!  I know our pastor’s parents told us sometimes they waited until 9:00 p.m. when everyone was home.  The family that eats, prays and laughs together – stays together! 

Maybe Ronald Reagan is right.  By keeping this practice, we may change the face of America!

How are you keeping the family dinnertime sacred?

*Statistics from