Decluttering Holiday "Shoulds" with Rachel Nielson

holidays parenting voyv Nov 23, 2023

00:00:00    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village, and this is episode 259. This is a selfish episode because I really needed it. This is about how to declutter the shoulds in the holiday season. I, y 'all like one of my challenges is like, Oh, I should be doing this. I should be baking cookies with my kids. I should be doing family photos and holiday cards and getting those sent out. but all of these shoulds add up for me. And ultimately, I end up showing up as a parent I don't wanna be when it's a lot of things that really don't matter to me or that I don't super care about, but I can end up in that land of "shoulds". 


00:00:50    Alyssa

I got to hang out with Rachel Nielsen and talk about what it looks like. How do we declutter our shoulds? What does it look like to dive into what really matters to us? And then what about the guilt or the fear of missing out? Because boy, do I have that. This was such a rad episode and honestly, super helpful for me personally. I hope it's so helpful for you as well. And look forward to hearing your takeaways and what "shoulds" you are decluttering, what you are gonna let go of. When you head on over to Instagram and share about this episode, Let me know what "shoulds" you are going to be letting go of. All right, folks, Let's dive in. 

00:03:00    Alyssa

Hey there. I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education and co-creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans, raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together. 


00:03:30    Alyssa

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today, I get to hang out with a friend I made last year. Rachel Nielsen is the podcast host for 3 in 30: Takeaways for Moms. I had the privilege of being on her podcast last year and am jazzed to get to bring her on to Voices of Your Village. Rachel's a former high school teacher, a lover of practical ideas, which I'm here for, conversations with kindred spirits, and her two wild miracle children who keep life interesting. She combined all of these passions when creating her podcast, and after a long fight to become a mother, Rachel truly believed she would thrive as a mom from day one. Her transition into motherhood was bumpier than she imagined, and she sought the help of professionals for actionable advice. And today we get to hang out with Rachel. Rachel, it's so interesting. I, as a teacher, I think, especially in Early Ed, or I always thought it was especially in Early Ed, so many of my friends, it was like, oh yeah, motherhood will just like be a breeze because we've been teachers, you know? And like, then it isn't. It's like, whoa. But I think it's a common thing for teachers. 


00:04:44    Rachel

Yeah, for sure. I feel like I had always worked with children. Like I had been a camp counselor growing up, and then I'd been an international volunteer in an orphanage in El Salvador, and then a high school teacher. And my children came to us through adoption and IVF. So we really, like, I really wanted this motherhood thing and fought hard and then found myself totally like amazed by how hard it was for me and really unhappy for the first few years as primarily a stay at home mom, which I had willingly, like I was like, after this long fight, I'm giving up my career. I'm gonna love every minute of this. And then, wow, I wasn't very fulfilled. And so I had to really find ways to live out my purpose in my new phase of life. And starting the podcast was a big way that I kind of brought the fulfillment back into my motherhood. And so it's just been a joy to be able to do it. 


00:05:46    Alyssa

That's rad. What stands out to you when you think back to that time that you're like, these were things I really didn't anticipate or love or whatever in that season? Just out of curiosity. 


00:05:57    Rachel

Yeah, I think that I realize now, though I couldn't have put it into words then, that my core, like probably my number one value is contribution. And I felt so isolated and like I wasn't contributing to anything that was bigger than myself and my home. And I mean, my rational mind knew that the work I was doing with my children was the most important work I could ever do as far as raising emotionally intelligent children and becoming more emotionally intelligent through the process of raising them. But I craved like sharing that and contributing to something bigger than myself, which when I look back, all of my jobs were that leading up to motherhood. And so that piece was missing that piece of like, I want to share this. I want to be, to feel like I'm making a difference outside of my home. And so I think that's why I felt unfulfilled for a long time. I felt like motherhood was unfulfilling for me, but I don't think that was it. I think it was that there wasn't this next step of like contribution or sharing that was missing. And so when I started my podcast, I was able to take all these lessons I was learning as a mom and all these things I was researching for my own family and share them. And it felt incredibly satisfying and meaningful. And so I would say to like any woman, if they're feeling a little lost within their motherhood, it might not actually be motherhood or your children. It might be that you haven't gotten clear yet on what your core values are and started to think about how can I live those out in a new season of life that I'm in? 


00:07:48    Alyssa

Sure. Yeah. That checks out. That checks out. I found, I wasn't, I feel like I couldn't say it out loud. I loved the newborn stage, like whatever the opposite of postpartum depression is, is like what I had and loved it and felt like I wasn't supposed to. So there was that. I felt really isolated in loving it, which is so interesting. And then outside of that, like once we got out of the newborn stage, I actually, even as a teacher, like six to 10 months, I've never found very fun and I was like maybe I will with my own kid and like nope still didn't and so that like stretch maybe even five to ten months about a half a year there where I was like oh I'm not having a good time where everything feels like it's constantly shifting I was like ready for more routine and scheduled or not like on that newborn can sleep anywhere do anything anymore but still didn't have routine and consistency where he wanted to move, but couldn't crawl yet. You know, like...


00:08:59    Rachel



00:09:01    Alyssa

Was understanding and taking more in, but didn't have expressive language for any of it yet. Like that was, that was tough. It was tough. And then he never took a bottle and I never imagined being a solely breastfeeding parent. And then I was, as a working parent, I have a box in my basement that's basically like the target bottle section at this point, where I like bought every single bottle. 


00:09:32    Rachel

Tried every bottle. 


00:09:32    Alyssa

And I was like, oh my gosh, I was an infant teacher and I taught so many people's kids to take bottles and I had all these tips and tricks, but I couldn't teach him. And yeah, and so I also felt like I couldn't be away. Like I felt so tethered in a way that I didn't love. And so like once we got out of that, like 12 months and beyond, I was like, Okay. Like I felt, I felt a sense of freedom. 


00:09:59    Rachel

Yeah. Yeah. What strikes me when you say all of that is that we do have so many shoulds for ourselves about like, I shouldn't be enjoying newborn stage as much as I am. And I should be enjoying this phase or a good mom would love it all. Or I should be able to teach my child how to do this and they should follow the rule book for how a baby act, you know? And it's like, one of my therapists would say, would always say, "stop should-ing on yourself". And I, you know, that's, I think I had a lot of that going on in my early motherhood that was weighing me down. And I had to learn to stop trying to fit myself into a box and to start accepting who I actually was. And lo and behold, right? Shocking. I was way happier after I let go of a lot of that junk. 


00:10:50    Alyssa

What did it look like for you? What was that process like to like declutter your shoulds? 


00:10:56    Rachel

Yeah, well, for me, it was a lot of therapy and I probably needed therapy for a long time before becoming a mother, but I definitely did. I had a lot of difficult things. My mother had breast cancer. She was diagnosed when I was six and she passed away when I was 19. So for 13 years, she battled and went in and out of remission. and I watched all of that. And I mean, that's incredibly traumatic for a sense for any child, but for especially for a really sensitive child like I was. And then, like, I had eating disorder behaviors through college that I never addressed. And so it's like therapy was a long time coming. But it's interesting that becoming a mom is what finally got me to do it. Like, I realized that my stuff was impacting my son. And I didn't, I didn't like it was fine if it impacted just me, it shouldn't have been. But like, in my mind, it was like, I can suffer through. And like, I know that there's some junk here, but like, I don't need to look at it. But then when I realized how much it was impacting my ability to bond and connect with him, to be the mom that I wanted to be to be the partner that I wanted to be in this new season of life to my husband, I just was like, I need help. So I went to therapy and have never really looked back. I love therapy still. It's been, you know, over 10 years of pretty consistent therapy and just continually understanding myself better and unpacking those shoulds and letting them go and embracing more of myself. And, so therapy was a huge help for me. And then I've also become really passionate about teaching other women how to do this, how to let go shoulds. Cause I have that contribution love of contribution in me where I'm like, it's not enough for me to just learn it. I need to figure out how to share it and how to make it actionable for other women who maybe can't afford going to therapy or who don't have the same number of years that they can devote to this. So I recently developed a process for sort of unpacking your shoulds that I call declutter your motherhood that is the same process that you would use to declutter a closet. And because it is quite similar, like to be able to follow the steps that you would follow with decluttering or organizing a physical space, but to apply it to what's going on internally and the mental clutter that you're carrying around. And you can sort of follow the steps in a similar way. And that metaphor seems to really help women to to be able to think of some of their shoulds as actual like physical items and how they would get rid of or donate, pass along those things. It's been a fun exercise to walk women through that metaphor. 


00:13:48    Alyssa

Where does that exist? 


00:13:50    Rachel

So I have an online course called Declutter Your Motherhood, and it's, if women are interested in going through that process, as well as I talk about it often on my podcast. 


00:14:04    Alyssa

Yeah. Sweet. When we're looking at that with like the "shoulding" yourself, I love that phrase. I am thinking, you know, as we're approaching the holidays, what so much of that I think comes up for us. And I am gonna share a story that I'm gonna try and do as anonymously as possible. I was spending the holidays with a family that we usually don't do, like we celebrate Christmas in my family. This family also celebrates Christmas and we were staying at their house for Christmas, which is atypical for us. And it was like, we were there two days before and then we were gonna be there Christmas day. And leading up, there was so much stress. There was so much stress around. And like, I was like, hey, how can I pitch in and help? And there are two kids in the family and there were like certain wrapping papers that had to be for certain kids for whether it was like Santa or families. And like, these bows go here and name tags go here when it's Santa or whatever. Like the whole, there were so many specifics from like how the presents are wrapped, where they are, like what was happening with meals and how things were gonna be structured and laid out. And like, no one was having a good time. No one was having a good time. And I just remember being in that and I was like, I don't want this for me, right? Like, I don't want this for me. And I think like looking back just in my life, I'm forever a human who has questioned things and not like kind of blindly followed. I grew up in the Catholic church and I remember being in Sunday school and just being like, okay, but why, but why, but why? And finally was like moved to the nursery to play with the kids. They're like enough why's from you, lady. And I'm like constantly questioned when it came down to like Zach and I getting married, like what was going to happen for our wedding was all stuff that I was like, that is a cool tradition. It doesn't feel like it's in alignment for us. Right. Like and so when I look at things like the holidays, like that's what comes up for me is what is actually important and what how do we let go of those shoulds that are maybe just like habit and they're from our childhood and we have these ideas of the way we're supposed to show up in certain ways. 


00:16:45    Rachel

Yeah. I mean, I'm right with you, Alyssa. Absolutely. And I feel like this decluttering of your expectations could apply just to like one season. I mean, you could do it to your motherhood generally. But as I was preparing for this conversation, I thought how would you declutter your holidays like you would a closet, you know? And I have like a, I have a three step process that I use that I go into in depth in my course, but I'm happy to walk through it with you today. And we can talk about it for the holidays with your listeners. So the three steps are, that I teach are first you inventory your overwhelm, then you edit your expectations. And third, you make room for joy. And so when you think about those three steps of the physical space, first you inventory, then you edit, and then you make room. And so inventorying your overwhelm with the holidays, I think would start with just like a brain dump at the beginning of the season, whenever that season starts for you, maybe a week or so before you get out a piece of paper, and you just brain dump all of the activities that maybe already are on the calendar or that could be added to the calendar in the next six weeks. You know, like, okay, we got the school holiday concert. We got the white elephant party with the friends. We got Christmas Eve dinner. We got whatever, if you celebrate Hanukkah, the traditions you do with that, write it all down. The things, as well as the things that you think maybe you should be adding to the calendar. Okay, we should probably make sugar cookies. we should probably drive to see the lights. I would like to go to this Christmas concert in the city, whatever, write it all on there. So then you have a visual inventory of the overwhelm of this season and everything that's in there, because in your mind, because a lot of times we don't really realize how much clutter and shoulds we're carrying around. And I remember the first time I have a good friend who's a professional organizer. And when And she helped me do my closet. She told me we have to take everything out of the closet. And I was like, why? Like, can't we just like thumb through stuff and decide? And she said, no, it's an entirely new level of clarity when you take it all out and you lay it all out on the bed or on the floor, whatever space you have, and like sort it into categories and look at it all and decide what actually deserves to go back in here into this closet. What do I actually love, use, wear? And it was, and she was right, like taking it all out made it much easier for me to then start to let things go. So I think that first step with the holidays is like get it all out, write it all down, inventory your overwhelm, and then you can move into starting to edit some of those expectations for yourself through the holidays. 


00:19:48    Alyssa

I love that. I love that visual too, of like pulling everything out of the closet. Cause it's true. It's like, it is easier to keep things in you're thumbing through and be like, I'm sure I'll wear this. Then like, I'm going to go through the process of hanging this back up because I'm pretty sure I'm going to wear this again. 


00:20:03    Rachel

Yeah. Cause I love it. 


00:20:04    Alyssa

Totally different. I, one of the like shoulds for me in motherhood in general that I've noticed that I've had to do a lot of work around is that it doesn't always have to be me. Right. Like I should be there for first day of school drop off. I should make the sugar cookies with them. I should go and do....and I actually, this one human in my life has been very helpful. I don't know if you follow Susie Allison, Busy Toddler. And I think this, this is something I have learned so much from Susie and have like, we've had conversations about because I adore her ability to be like, yeah, like camping, for instance. She's like, it's not for me. It's probably never going to be for me. And everybody else enjoys the camping trip more if I don't go on it. And my husband can take the two kids that want to go with his family, and I can stay back with the kid who doesn't want to go, and we can have the time of our lives, and great. That, like, it doesn't have to be a... And that's something for me that I really have had to work on, of, like, it doesn't have to be me. I don't have to drive to see the lights. If that, if what I really want to do is watch a Christmas movie or just chill at home or do anything else, It's like, I don't have to be the one to do the thing. 


00:21:31    Rachel



00:21:32    Alyssa

And that's, it's tough. It like immediately comes up for me of like "bad mom", like a "good mom" would go and do these things with them and like have all these memories with them and have to like really be mindful of that part of me that's afraid that I'm going to miss out on something too, I think. 


00:21:53    Rachel

Yeah, for sure. Yeah, yeah. I mean, there's so much there, but, and you're so right that I think sometimes when you're looking at that, when you're inventorying your overwhelm, when you're looking at that list, some things are just straight, like take it off the list. It doesn't matter. It's not going to deeply impact their life if we don't drive around to see the lights, like cross it off. But there may be some things on there that you think, no, I really want that for my children, but it doesn't have to be me that I love that you pointed that out so like I want maybe you're thinking you're looking at like the holiday concert for school and you're like it's important that they be at that they've prepared for it and they be at it, that's really challenging for me to be there because of these other things or this work thing. But like my kid deserves to have someone there at their holiday concert, but maybe grandma and grandpa could go. And that could be their special thing with grandma and grandpa that they take them to their holiday concert because I can't be there that night. And like there's still, there's like those alarm bells going off, like bad mom, bad mom, you should be at the holiday concert. And maybe eventually, maybe you decide when you look deeply, I do want to prioritize being at the holiday concert, not as a should, but as a want. And you make it happen, but maybe you don't. And you say, Grandma and Grandpa can be there instead. So it's like this negotiation with yourself as you look at that list of what can be taken off altogether and what can be reimagined or delegated in a way that's still really meaningful for our family and what we value and for the traditions that we want to bring in. And that's kind of all part of that second step of like editing your expectations. But as moms, we don't take time to stop and do this kind of conscious planning and thinking because our lives are really insane for a lot of us, you know, like crazy. And so it's like set aside an hour to do this kind of thoughtful planning of your season. Well, it's going to pay off if you do that, even though it's maybe hard in the moment to prioritize the time. 


00:26:25    Alyssa

Yeah, I have found this so much in life that it's these, I have to put something on my calendar, it doesn't happen, and I have to literally set it aside and put in every single time that I do something proactive like this, it pays off. And every single time, I don't want to do it in the moment, right? Like I'm like, no, I don't want to do this. 


00:26:46    Rachel

Or I don't have time right now. 


00:26:47    Alyssa

Yeah, exactly. I am one of five kids and grew up in a low -income family with really great parents who were stretched pretty thin. And they, you know, worked to put food on the table. And they, we were all involved. I have four brothers, we were all athletes and involved in multiple sports. We were involved in a bunch of clubs and all that jazz. And my parents never missed a thing of ours. And they didn't have the bandwidth to show up in ways that I needed them emotionally, right? And so it became one of those things that as I looked at this for myself in motherhood, as I was coming into motherhood, like what really feels important to me is trying to have that bandwidth with to show up for them emotionally. And I don't think I have the bandwidth to be at every single thing and do all the things and show up for them emotionally. And so when something has to give, for me, the physical presence feels a little easier to give on than the emotional side. Does that make sense? 


00:28:07    Rachel

It makes total sense. It's amazing clarity. I think most of us don't stop to think that deliberately about my physical, if I give my physical presence right now, I'm not going to be able to give my emotional presence later. And sometimes, sometimes maybe you choose that and you say, no, my physical presence matters more today. And maybe then that means we'll be less connected at bedtime or whatever. But other times you may think, no, I'm gonna not be physically present so that I can have this emotional presence. I think that's incredibly wise. 


00:28:42    Alyssa

Thanks. It was really just reflection on my own childhood of like, they were awesome and that was something that was really important to them. And frankly, I'm grateful that they prioritized. Like it felt really good to have them at everything. 


00:28:56    Rachel



00:28:57    Alyssa

And just when it comes down to the fact that like, we all have a battery that needs to be recharged. 


00:29:03    Rachel



00:29:03    Alyssa

It isnt infinite. 


00:29:05    Rachel

Yeah. And all of our batteries are different and all of our capacities are different and that's okay. And so it's really important to know your own limits and your own battery needs and how much recharging you need and to take that into consideration as you look ahead to this busy season. I had a really good friend, my dear friend Miranda Anderson, she hosts the podcast Live Free Creative and she gave me this idea one year and I loved it for the holidays to choose a word for the season. So sometimes you'll hear people do this for the year. They're like, my word for the year, my New Year's resolution, my word for the year is health or my word for the year is connection or whatever. And that I'm going to use that as a lens for the decisions I make this year, which I like that idea, but I also think that a year is really big and it's hard to like stay focused on a word for a whole year. And I loved when Miranda applied it to the holiday season and said, what do you want to feel this holiday season? 


00:30:07    Rachel

Choose a word, and then you can make decisions through that lens about the activities that you take on or don't take on, the presents you give, the schedule that you take on, you know. And there's a huge variety of words that you could choose for the holiday season. I brainstormed a few before this conversation, and what came to mind for me was fun, magic, connection, family, peace, God, service. Like, depending on your particular beliefs, your angle, your bandwidth this year, like, but the problem is, is that we often try to do all of those things. We were like, no, but I want it all. I want fun, magic, family, connection, service, God, peace, all of it. And it's like, well, that's not really possible. So getting, getting deliberate about saying like this year for the holiday season, what I, what my soul needs is peace. And maybe last year it was a really fun holiday season and we went to everything and we did all of the traditions and, and this year we're going to scale back and we're going to do the quieter, closer to home things. And or, you know, last year it was all about fun. And this year it's going to be all about service and we're not going to get as many gifts and we're not going to do as many things because our focus is going to be outward and on contribution. And just think about using a lens as a way to edit your expectations. It can be really helpful. I do think it's difficult sometimes for people to choose one thing, to choose one lens and hold to it. And so I even thought like, you could do it by the week, or you could do it by the day. Like, you know, Christmas Eve is going to be about God, and we're going to go to church, and we're going to do the spiritual stuff, and we're going to read the nativity if that's our belief system. And Christmas day is going to be the fun and the magic and Santa and the whatever. So you're, instead of trying to do it all, all the time to break it up into more focused chunks, I think can really help make your decisions clearer on what you want to take in on any given week or month or season of your life. 


00:32:25    Alyssa

I dig that so much. We just did this. We started doing it year for vacations. Like when we, my husband and I, we had a bunch of trips kind of planned this year with the book publishing. I had a bunch of travel. I was at a bunch of conferences and we often tried to make them family vacations. And we, before each one went in with like, what do we need this week? And it was like, oh, we need to chill or we need to connect or yeah, we just need some joy, like we need to play, whatever. And it helped us. And there was one time that sticks out to me where we had different expectations. Like I was like, I need to chill. I'm feeling pretty burnt and beat. And he was like, I need to play. And I was like, great. When there are times that Sage, our two -year -old, needs to go out and do something fun, I might hang back and rest and chill and you can take him and do the fun thing. And it just like set our expectations with each other as well of like, what are we working with right now? 


00:33:39    Rachel

Yes, totally. 


00:33:41    Alyssa

But I love that too for the holidays. And as you were saying, I was like, oh, that's kind of how I feel like I grew up, like where we had different things. Christmas Eve was different. Christmas morning was fun and magical. And then we always in the afternoon went to church and made meals and delivered them and whatever. And like there were different focuses for different days or even different parts of the day. And I dig that. It was like there was a time for each thing and it wasn't all in each moment. 


00:34:09    Rachel

Yeah. I mean, when you go back to the metaphor of the physical organization of a space, like a closet, a lot of times they will tell you, like the professional organizers will say, like, you need containers. So you have designated spaces, so you can see how much you have of something. And if there's too much of something because it's overflowing the container. container. And so often in our lives, we don't make containers. So we like are trying to do it all and have all the different feelings and it's all spread out. And so sort of creating those containers around like holidays and the way you break down your time and your schedule and saying like, I don't need to feel guilty that we're not doing very much religious stuff on Christmas morning because we did it on Christmas Eve. So like there's a, there's a container there instead of this feeling of like, or like, I don't need to feel guilty that we aren't serving today on Christmas because we did it last week. Like, so you're kind of creating these buckets almost or containers for where you want to put things. And I really, I do want to go back to the idea of like if possible, really just choosing one focus for the season. And it doesn't have to be every year you have that same focus, but it may just be this year. And it may be really hard to say no to some of the things that you actually genuinely love to do, um, because it doesn't fit with what your focus for that season for what your soul needs right then. But just reminding yourself that like life is long and next year I'm going to have a new blank slate to try a different focus for the holidays. And I think it's very hard for us to accept trade -offs and to like that FOMO feeling but just remembering that going deep with something is often much more fulfilling than superficial and trying to get it all and jumping around instead of just going deep into one focus. 


00:36:09    Alyssa

Totally it makes me think of like when I'd put Sage down for a nap as an infant and be like I'm gonna read and then I'd get like two minutes into a book and he'd wake up and I'm like Like, yeah, when I'm trying to do all these things versus, hey, I'm going to at the end of the day or whatever, when he's down or he's with my partner, he's in chat or something, then I'm going to carve out 15 minutes where I know I have dedicated time to read. I would try and fit it in where it could fit and then just feel like I never got really into it. 


00:36:40    Rachel

Yes, totally. That's the life of a mother right there. Oh my gosh. You're like, and they're up. Yeah, it's so hard to deeply focus on anything. And so I do think that you got to get creative with this and think like pick a word that's broad enough that there's a lot of different applications and ways you can live it out and get creative thinking like, okay, my focus for this year is connection and that could look a lot of different ways. And I think that leads to the third step which that I teach women is make room for joy. When you cut out the extra stuff, when you get rid of the clutter, you actually have room and space to like get creative about how you want to bring in the things that you love. So that was the experience I had when I decluttered my closet, my physical space. Once we got rid of the stuff I didn't really love and I wasn't actually wearing, I had shockingly few clothes. And at first you're like, oh my gosh, like what am I gonna wear? But honestly, I had only been wearing those few things anyway, But they were hidden in the midst of all of this other clutter. Once I got rid of the clutter, I was able to see, oh, like I have room in my closet and in my wardrobe to add some things that I really love. And I can slowly over time sort of be on the lookout for things that I want to add to my wardrobe. And it's similar with our schedules or with life, where if you clear out a bunch of stuff that maybe doesn't actually matter that much to you, but that you've always done for the holidays, or that doesn't matter that much to you this year, then you might see like, oh, there's like blank space here. Like what sounds fun? What would add to this focus, this lens that I want to do the holidays through this year? Like we've never really done much with service and service is important to me. Like I'm going to spend some time researching what we could do that's service focused this holiday season because I got rid of all these activities that I actually don't care that much about. And so now there's room to really make this joyful for our family and aligned with what we value. 


00:38:46    Alyssa

Yeah. And I think like the biggest challenge and like part of me that comes up in this process is the, the recognizing that that part is still going to come up and be like, Oh, but you should be doing this. Like even through the decluttering of it all, that there, that, that part might still need to feel heard and valued and worthy. and in order to really focus in and be present on whatever my word is or whatever I'm gonna do that season. 


00:39:19    Rachel

Yeah, and my therapist would tell me like, just feel it, just acknowledge it, just say like, I'm disappointed that I can't do it all. And so often we're so quick to like, we wanna justify to ourselves, we wanna justify away the feeling of like, no, but remember you're doing all these other things that really matter to you, so you don't need to feel disappointed. It's like, no, just say, yeah, I'm disappointed that I'm a human with limitations and that I can't do it all. And I wish that I could. And so I think really having that compassion for yourself is a really good practice. I also think this acceptance of the feeling of disappointment is something that I have worked on the last few holiday seasons in my, in recognizing that it's likely that my kids will be disappointed at times throughout the holiday season and that that's okay. And so I've had to like coach myself and say, but if I don't get him as many presents this year because my focus isn't that this year, they're going to be disappointed. And then I have this little dialogue with myself, yeah, they might be disappointed and that will be okay. Like they'll be okay. You'll be okay. You don't need to make that mean that they're entitled spoiled brats. You don't need to tell a story about that. you don't need, you can just say disappointment is a normal part of life and of children growing up. And like gratitude is a skill that kids learn over a lifetime. So if on Christmas morning, they're disappointed by their gifts, I don't need to like lecture them or spiral or whatever. I can just say, yeah, sometimes it's hard to not get everything you want. I feel that too. And just let them feel it and not try to fix it, which is so much easier said than done, especially this time of year. 


00:41:08    Alyssa

100%. And you can feel both. You can feel gratitude and disappointed. Last Christmas, we were at my parents' and my nephew's like nine -ish, nine or 10. He had gotten, there was this box he was super excited to open. He was pretty sure he knew what it was and he opened it and it wasn't the thing. And he was actually getting the thing later that day from my parents, right? But like, he opens it up. He is very like kind through it all, but you can just see he's the most excitable human I've ever met in my life. And it's not on his face. And he is like, thank you. Thanks so much. Like, this is so cool. And just like trying to, like, pull it together, you can see. And then I was chatting with my sister -in -law and he ended up going upstairs after and he was crying and he was upset. And she was like, I just like you just got all these presents. I wanted to feel grateful. Yeah. And I was like, totally. And you've done such a beautiful job raising a human who does feel gratitude and also feels disappointment and that's rad because he's going to feel disappointed so many times in his life and he knows that he can he received that present despite being disappointed with kindness and then took space and moved through his emotion in the way that feels good for him and allowed himself to feel it and be in it and she was like Oh my God, you're right. I just really don't want him to feel disappointed on Christmas. And I was like, totally. Also, that makes sense, right? Like, it makes sense to be like, no, I just want him to feel joy. And I know he's also getting that present later. 


00:42:49    Rachel

Like, yes, I love that you have. I love that you have that relationship with your sister. Like, that's what we need is someone to just talk through that stuff with. And hopefully we have a person that we can. But if not, you can learn to be that for yourself. I feel like that's the biggest thing that therapy has given me is like these inner dialogues I have. It's like, I almost am like coaching or counseling myself and having these conversations of like, and it's okay for them to be a human and to have those emotions and for me to have my emotions and the state doesn't have to be perfect and they don't have to be perfect and it's all going to be fine. 


00:43:30    Alyssa

Yeah. And what a hard practice to learn, especially if you didn't grow up in a space where we were taught that it was okay to feel hard things. 


00:43:39    Rachel

Yeah, absolutely. 


00:43:41    Alyssa

Yeah. Oh, Rachel, thank you so much for this. Like, it's such a, it's such a rad way to like go into the holidays and frankly, into life. Like, what are my shoulds? I really like the idea of the word exercise outside of the holidays too, and just in different seasons of life and bringing that through. And can you share with folks where they can find you learn more about all that jazz? 


00:44:12    Rachel

Yeah. So my podcast is 3 in 30: Takeaways for Moms, and you can find that on any podcast app. And if they want a place to start, I would recommend the episode that you did with me. If they love your work, they should go back and find that episode. It's 271, why your kids meltdown after school and what to do about it. And my community loved that conversation. There are so many practical takeaways in there. So that would be a great place for people to start. And then I have my Declutter Your Motherhood course. If women are thinking like, I want to dive deep into this and getting rid of my shoulds for myself in motherhood and becoming a happier, more fulfilled, more authentic, honest version of myself. That could, that course is at And I'm completely biased, but I think it would be a great gift to ask for or to give to yourself as a as a holiday gift this year. And maybe you won't have time to work through all of it right now in this busy season, but maybe in the new year. That's just what you'll need to sit down and do that work and sort of start the new year on a good foot of figuring out who you are. So those are the two resources I would point people to. 


00:45:25    Alyssa

I love it. Thank you so much. 


00:45:29    Alyssa

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