Striking business and family time balance at the holidays might seem as miraculous as Jesus’ birth, but it isn’t. However, it does require your commitment to establish and hold boundaries around work and family. Following are a few secrets to help you do just that.
Start with prayer.
Taking the holiday season before the Lord is the wisest and best way to bring in balance. He knows you better than you know yourself. He also knows the future. When you ask God for His help in striking business & family time balance, you’re building your holiday schedule on a sure foundation. Be prepared that He may guide you to do the unexpected, but for good reason.
An example from this in my own life was Christmas 2019. The short version is I felt His prompting for us to travel to Canada to see our family. However, we could only be there one day and the drive was 6 hours both ways. That left us just 6 hours to visit and wasn’t something we normally would do. When Covid hit in March of 2020 and traveling to Canada became complicated for almost a year, I knew exactly why God nudged us to make that trip. Without prayer, I would have brushed the idea off as crazy.
Evaluate last year’s holiday season.
Past experience is your best instructor. Reflect on:
- What caused you the most stress
- Where you felt most present and at peace
- What worked well
- What didn’t
Based on your evaluation, prayerfully consider what needs to change for you this year. If this is your first year as a business owner during the holidays, take notes on the above areas so you can make adjustments for next year.
Define what balance looks like to you.
Apply the guidance of Galatians 6:4 – don’t compare yourself to others. Your definition of balance is unique to you and the life circumstances God has placed you in. Before you get into the thick of the holidays, consider the amount of time you want to work vs the time you want set aside for family. Also consider the amount of alone time you need to build in so you can be fully present with family. If you’re married and/or have children, another element to consider is the time you want to spend alone with them vs with other family or friends.
Be realistic about your time.
Most business owners overestimate their ability to accomplish their task list in a day. They also underestimate the time needed to address the unexpected. When you start to heap holiday activities onto an already packed schedule, the time crunch gets crunchier.
Getting realistic about your time starts with acknowledging that a perfectly planned day is a myth. Since you can’t see even one minute into the future, it’s impossible to anticipate everything you’ll encounter in one day.
It’s why you need to build buffers into your schedule. I like to call it “white space.” White space is time you don’t have scheduled out in your calendar. It’s the cushion you need when work projects that take longer than you originally estimated. It helps you navigate the unexpected and inevitable interruptions to your day. It also gives you breathing room between work and family activities.
Just say no in order to prioritize.
If you struggle with balance at the holidays, you can trace it back to everything you say yes to. Consistently saying yes to the point of overwhelm indicates you’re losing sight of your highest priorities. Or allowing fears (like FOMO & disappointing others) to dictate your day. Getting realistic about your time can help. However if the thought of saying “no” has you panicking, ask yourself these questions…
For your business: Will running sales or marketing over Christmas through New Year’s be worth the sacrifice? If yes, what could my time with family look like (think quality and timing)? If the answer is no, where do I need to trust God more with my business over the holidays?
For your personal life: By saying “no” to all the holiday activities and invitations that overload my schedule to the point of exhaustion & resentment, what am I saying “yes” to instead? What are other ways I can honor being with family without cramming it into an unrealistic schedule?
Rewrite your holiday narrative.
While Christmas traditions can bind us together, they also come with a lot of baggage. It’s because they were created by man, not God. If you look at how the established culture and traditions for the Hebrew people (see Exodus & Leviticus), they were centered on worshiping & honoring Him. The Lord never told Christians to celebrate His birth. He’s not the one who told us to decorate, buy gifts, travel a circuit of houses, hold multiple feasts, throw holiday sales or even focus on Advent. While those things aren’t wrong, neither are they required. Which means, you are free to rewrite the holiday narrative. When you do so prayerfully, with your focus on pleasing the Lord, you can trust He will faithfully lead you through holidays that are balanced, not a snowball of stress. (Meditating on these Scriptures can help.)
Which one of these are you most excited to try to strike the business and family time balance?