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Holiday Self-care Guide

By Dawn Goldberg

Come this time of year, and stress, stress, stress abounds. Talk about how we as mommies try to be perfect in every little thing. We just about run ourselves ragged trying to make sure all the decorations are up right after Thanksgiving, our Christmas or Hanukkah shopping is done by March, and every present is wrapped by September. Seriously. When I was a teacher, one of my fellow teachers had all her Christmas shopping done AND wrapped by August before the new school year started. Insane, I thought.

For me, that just takes all the fun out of Christmas. My family has a tradition of going to the mall the day after Thanksgiving (crazy, isn't it?!). We don't do any shopping, but it's our way to immerse ourselves in the holiday spirit. We take a relaxed view of the holiday season and enjoy being caught up in it, while at the same time not being part of the frenzy. (We do have to put our "patient hats" on when trying to find a parking spot, though!)

I wasn't always this relaxed.

As you may or may not know, I'm the owner of a successful business, Virtual Angel, in which I provide support to other small business owners. For the most part, it's just me working with my clients (I do have a couple of assistants, but they mainly support me and my business, like making sure this fabulous newsletter gets out on time!). So, if I'm not working and getting things done for my clients, it just doesn't get done, and I don't get paid. Vacations can be tough - mentally and budget-wise.

Two years ago, I worked right up until Christmas Eve. Everything was an item on my to-do list, even the stuff that was supposed to be fun. Bake cookies for Santa ("When am I going to do that?"), go to our local state park to see their gorgeous display of holiday lights ("When will we back? I have stuff do finish."), arranging trips to relatives on both sides of the family ("I wish I didn't get motion sick in the car; I could get so much work done!"), and so on.

By the time Christmas Day rolled around, I was heart-sick. I had missed out on the whole point of the holiday season. I hadn't enjoyed it, and I'd lost sight of what was most important to me - enjoying my family and friends during this very special time. Instead, I had focused so much on work and all the stuff to do, that I hadn't enjoyed Christmas at all.

Never again, I vowed! I made plans that day to take the two weeks off before Christmas next year. And I did. Now, in 2005, I've done it again, and I'm absent from my business for two weeks.

It seems to make sense to me, but I've found that I've spent the last two weeks explaining to colleagues and other business owners this concept of a V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N. The whole idea seems to be foreign to most people.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm taking a whole two weeks off. Or the fact that I'm not going anywhere (except for that requisite 2-day trip to Pennsylvania to visit family); I just plan on being home. It's almost as if I have to have a reason to go on vacation. Nope, not for me. Well, actually, I guess I do have a reason - to take care of me.

Now, here's the real clincher - I'm taking this time off while my girls are still in school! Sure, I could take the week between Christmas and New Year's off while they're home from school, but I decided not to. Instead, I'll take the two weeks off before Christmas, and revel in self-care for Dawn.

Never fear; I'll have plenty of quality time with my girls while they're home on winter break. I'll work a shorter day than normal, and as most of my clients will be on their on holiday breaks, my work days will be pretty easy and light.

Why aren't I wracked with Mommy Guilt (more to come on Mommy Guilt in the future) that I'm not taking vacation while my kids will be home? Because I know I'm going to be a better mommy if I'm happy and whole. Those two weeks are going to be a period of renewal and rejuvenation for me. What better gift for my girls than to come home to a Mommy who's happy, stress-free, relaxed, and ready to play?

(One of the absolute must's for me to do while I'm on vacation? Have warm, chocolate-chip cookies waiting for my girls when they come home from school during my vacation. THAT'S why I'm doing this - to provide that fun holiday feeling for my girls, instead of me being all wrapped up in work.)

Happy holidays, and may you give your own family the gift of a happy, fulfilled, relaxed YOU!

About The Author

Dawn Goldberg is a Certified Virtual Assistant, COO of Assist University, mother, community leader, and former teacher. Her vision is to create a resource that helps parents find ways to enjoy valuable, constructive time with their children every day. Contact her at or visit

Copyright 2005 Dawn Goldberg. You are welcome to use this article online in electronic newsletters and e-zines as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the "about the author" information).


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