‘Instant Family’ star Nicole Walters on the importance of taking ‘self-care sabbaticals’

Entrepreneur Nicole Walters, her husband Josh and their three kids
Between running a business and raising three kids, it can be a challenge for parents like Nicole Walters to find time for themselves. But Walters prioritizes finding ways to recharge her batteries by taking what she calls “self-care sabbaticals.” (Photo courtesy of Nicole Walters)

Entrepreneur Nicole Walters, along with her husband, Josh Walters, and their three adopted kids, look forward to the holidays each year. But with the coronavirus pandemic, Walters and her family realize that this year is going to look very different.

Walters, who has 185k followers on Instagram and will star in the upcoming USA Network series, “Instant Family,” shares with Yahoo Life how her family will both celebrate and recharge during this unique holiday season.

Favorite holiday traditions

“Every year, our family loves to stay up playing board games, laughing and dancing,” Walters tells Yahoo Life. “While this isn’t very different from our regular family fun, there’s a cheer that’s distinctly holiday centric — maybe it’s the food, maybe it’s seeing our extended family (which we’re choosing to pass up on this year). But it makes these dance parties something to which I look forward and cherish.”

When it comes to presents, the Walters family always gives “modest gifts” to each other, along with one big gift for the whole family. “Essentially, we all get socks and sweaters, and then plan a big family vacation or excursion,” she says.

Since they’re not going to take a family trip this year in light of the pandemic, they decided to make a donation equivalent to the cost of their vacation to the City of Refuge charity in Atlanta. “We love the work they do,” Walters says. “The way they give back to the community, and supporting them is the greatest gift of all. And we will get our socks!”

How they get into the holiday spirit

To make their home feel more festive during the holidays, Walters says she incorporates lots of pine smells, pumpkin gourds and apple spice candles. “Anything that brings the outdoor feelings of the season indoors is exactly what we love,” she says.

The family also has music playing “around the hour.” “But rather than traditional holiday tunes, we play fun playlists of oldies,” says Walters. “Retro R&B and Frank Sinatra are on heavy rotation — and I absolutely identify these songs with everything holiday fun.”

When it comes to food, Walters says her family is a “big classic Southern soul food fan during celebrations,” adding: “Our table will be loaded with collard greens, mac and cheese and sweet potato pies — I can’t wait!”

One thing that isn’t on the agenda for holiday celebrations? Dressing up. “Team Walters is very, very, very down to earth,” she says. “Comfortable is the way we go. Every year, our family wears matching pajama sets to open Christmas gifts, and our comfy Christmas socks are our go-to gear. It’s comfortable, festive and fun!”

How they focus on financial responsibility and self-care

Walters doesn’t take it for granted that her family has “the privilege of financial abundance.” However, Walters, her husband and their children all come from “humble beginnings,” she says, “and for that reason we all recognize that the holiday season is about family and faith. Both of which are totally free and the focus of our energy.”

She adds: “A foundation of my debt-free business and teachings is focusing on value and financial responsibility — no matter how successful your business is. This is how we’ve raised our kids. So we’ve always kept gifts reasonable, and donated to others generously because we are blessed and never forget it.”

Between running a business and raising three kids, it can be a challenge for parents like Walters to find time for themselves. But Walters prioritizes finding ways to recharge her batteries by taking what she calls “self-care sabbaticals.”

Every three months of the year, Walters takes three days to herself. “This allows me to recharge, connect with my faith and set my intentions for the upcoming quarter and year,” she says. “This time is guilt-free, protected on my calendar and my family knows that it makes me a better mom. It’s not always travel or on the road or expensive — sometimes it’s sleep-ins and staying by myself in my room. Whatever it is, I am no one’s ‘anything’ — not mom, not wife, not boss — for a few days, so I can be something for myself.”

How the pandemic is affecting their holiday plans

The Walters household usually welcomes extended family for the holidays, but this year is different. “While we would love to have our extended family over, as we normally do, our entire family agreed that due to the pandemic, we’d prefer to celebrate together virtually, and come together next year to celebrate two things — the holiday…and the end of the pandemic!”

But getting together virtually doesn’t have to be boring. To keep things fun, Walters and her family coordinated several virtual activities. “Because of my work online as a business education consultant at Inherit Learning Company, I’m well-versed in ‘making it feel real, over the net,’” says Walters. “We’ve coordinated webcam games, movie slideshows, a digital scavenger hunt and trivia night! And it doesn’t take much tech to bring a dance party to your family anywhere in the world. While it isn’t ‘ideal,’ we are so happy for the gift of technology this holiday season.”

For the many people who are staying safe at home for the holidays this year because of the pandemic, Walters has some words of advice: “It’s important to still take the time to celebrate yourself — have a special meal, a double dessert, a hot bubble bath or watch a favorite movie — while things are happening in an unorthodox way. It doesn’t mean we can’t still treat ourselves well.”

Walters says she understands how challenging it can be to not see family and friends this holiday season, adding that she admires “their strength, resilience and sacrifice for the greater good.”

As Walters puts it, we’re all going through an “unusual” time right now. “But here’s hoping that this time apart makes next year’s celebrations even better,” she says. “We will certainly have plenty for which to be thankful.”

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