"My memories of Christmas as a
child are of stress. My mother wanted everything to be perfect and got
so worked up trying to do it all that it made the rest of the family
crazy. I remember my dad comforting me when I was about 8 years old, I was
crying and said “I hate Christmas” and he said “I do, too, honey. We
just have to get through it.”
So for my kids I try to be relaxed and fun. We make ornaments for friends and family in December and give them out as we see people — gets us into the giving without thought of receiving. We take time to see the lights around town, to decorate and appreciate our tree. We talk about the other festivals of lights and remember that feasting and gifts are to make the darkest, coldest time of year merry. We celebrate the return of the sun. We relax and play and laugh and appreciate each other.” -- Amy
most essential skill for parents, at the holidays and every day? Manage
yourself so you can stay calm and loving with your child.
Remember that the holidays aren't just stressful for you, they're actually stressful for children. So much desperate longing gets stimulated (just like for us.) So much excitement gets triggered, which needs an outlet somewhere. Families are busier. Schedules are disrupted. Parents are more stressed, more snappish.
Children depend on us, both to regulate their environment, and to help them regulate their moods. If you’re out of balance, you won’t be able to help your kids stay on an even keel. In fact, if you’re anxious about everything you have to get done, I promise you that your child will begin to act out.
Your kids don’t need a magazine-spread holiday. They need you, in a good mood, living the spirit of the season and spreading love and good cheer. How?
- Give up on perfection and accept that real parents get reality holidays, complete with messy kitchens, cranky kids and pies that end up on the floor.
- Pare back your schedule to do only the essentials. Just say no to whatever doesn’t bring you joy.
- Focus on Connection, rather than shopping or events.
- Be sure your own expectations of the season are reasonable. (What makes you think your difficult relative will suddenly be less difficult this year?)
- Make sure you nurture yourself and stay in balance. Start by getting enough sleep.
- The minute your mood veers from loving to frenzied, stop. Hug your children and regroup.
- Count your blessings and say thank you for everything good in your life, every day.
- Find ways to laugh at what will inevitably go wrong.
- Pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself on a job well done, not just in December, but all year long.
None of our December holidays are about shopping. They're about the transformative power of faith, love, joy and light. So fill your home with the real meaning of your holiday by focusing on presence, instead of presents. Which means keeping your own cup full, so you can fill everyone else's.
Want more help staying regulated and present every day? Join me for a free LIVE CALL tonight!
I'm on a Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of my first book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. Today's stop is Code Name Mama, where Dionna Ford is hosting me on a LIVE CALL to talk about regulating our own emotions as parents. I'll be answering parents' questions, so if you have a burning question, please hop on the call a few minutes early to give Dionna your question.
The call is free, and access details are available at Code Name Mama. The call is at 7pm PT/ 8pm MT/ 9pm CT /10pm ET (see timeanddate.com for converting to other time zones) and it will be taped.