Holidays: Balancing Overtime With Family Time

RAFT Team, October 12, 2020

Holidays and family go hand in hand, at least in the movies. But the Covid days we’re living in are anything but a movie, unless you’re watching an apocalyptic horror flick. Most days, you can't imagine adding anything more to your schedule. You’re stretched thin, stressed, and because you’re gifted with compassion and concern, you’re carrying client, family, and co-worker’s burdens on top of your own. But you can change the story. You can bring joy back into your life this holiday season without adding more to-dos and should-have dones. And all without living under a cloak of guilt. Seem impossible? Learn how balancing overtime with family time can make the load lighter, not heavier this holiday season. 

So how do you plan for down-time with family during the holidays that fills you up instead of adding to the overload? How do you keep your relationships healthy?

Balancing Overtime With Family Time means saying no so you can say yes to what you love

Say Yes

What types of activities contribute to your own self-care? Sit down with your family, make a short list of what’s most important for each of you this holiday season. Say yes to these things. Block them out on your calendar and treat this time as you would any other meeting. Agree to say yes to these few things as a family first. 

Say No

What area of life takes over with a life of its own? Is it work and the heavier-than-normal client load? Is it the family obligations that demand your time and attention? Acknowledge the area that’s hardest to control and set some firm boundaries before you think you need them

  • If that yearly gift exchange always takes up the entire Saturday before Christmas and you’d rather spend that time elsewhere, say no to it this year. Or set a firm got-to-go time, let the host know, and stick to it.
  • If the extended family hosts a potluck that your entire family dreads, consider graciously excusing yourself this year. 
  • If overtime is the norm this time of year, see if you can split the days with co-workers so you each contribute to the workload but only 1-2 nights a week instead of every single night. 
Balancing Overtime With Family Time means saying yes

Be Realistic

Most holiday occasions involve more than an in-the-moment time commitment. That work potluck lunch is not just an hour of sharing next Thursday. It’s also includes the time creating the item you’re bringing to share as well. Don’t forget to weigh these “hidden” time commitments before you commit. It’s helpful to adjust your expectations of yourself so you can enjoy your time together rather than showing up worn out and resentful. This mindset shift may mean picking up something from the deli instead of bringing something home-baked. Remember, the relationship is more important than a perfect presentation.


This shift in how to approach your holiday time takes practice. To help you in the transition, consider writing out family priorities out where everyone can see them. If a commitment doesn’t align with those priorities, graciously excuse yourself if at all possible. A family discussion might arm everyone with ways to do this in various circumstances. This approach can also remind everyone to support each other in the pursuit of less busy-ness and more meaningful fun. A family gratitude practice can bolster it even more. It fosters a mentality that prioritizes collective family interests and prevents internal fights over whose individual plans are more important than another. 

Balancing Family time with overtime during the holidays means letting go of perfection

Be Kind

Always remember to be kind — to yourself and to others — as you learn to approach holidays in a fresh way. Some commitments may be unavoidable this year. That’s okay. Show up, be present, and make the best of it. But also consider ways to shift out of the commitment in the future. 

If you’re like most people, your calendar is full to the top on an average day. The holidays can double your normal obligations. Making your commitments a bit lighter will get easier and easier as you begin to find more meaning in a slower holiday season. Balancing family time with overtime doesn't have to be complicated. It just takes commitment and courage to say yes to the things you love.