We know the holidays are supposed to be about closeness, connection and spending time with those we love. But in the hustle and bustle of it all, we can get sidetracked and forget what’s most important. Over time, we start to lose the happy in our holidays.
In a nutshell, your happiness this holiday season boils down to your ability to get and stay connected to your family.
So here are five simple tricks to connect better so you can put the happy back in your holidays:
Ditch the guilt of being perfect
When a group of children was surveyed about what they wanted most for Christmas this year, the result came as a surprise to some of the researchers. The children did not ask for a big, fancy toy or a new pet. They simply asked for parents who more relaxed and weren’t so stressed out. When you are preoccupied and stressing out about the holidays, it blocks your ability to be emotionally present. Life as a parent has taught me that Christmas is about your presence, NOT your presents. This may come as a surprise, but your children want YOU, not the toys you give them or the lavish Christmas experience you create.
This holiday season, resist the temptation to get caught up in the activity trap. When my kids were younger, I fell into this trap, signing my kids up for everything under the sun. Soon, our kids had no real time to imagine, create or invent their own fun without adult supervision. They were often exhausted, as were we. Like so many parents, we bought into the idea that if we want to be good parents, we have to steal childhood, taking every minute of our child’s time.
We were tempted to schedule every waking moment of our kids’ days because we felt we knew what was “best” for them. As a result of our over scheduling, family conflict started to rise, and everyone suffered. As the festivities and parties pile up this season, take a risk and limit them. Your kids and your sanity will thank you!
Prioritize family time
In the midst of the holiday whirlwind, make time to simply connect. As my children grew, my wife and I learned that what kids need – and frankly, what parents need—is to just be together with no specific goal in mind. Sometimes, we just need time together with no purpose other than finding pleasure in being together and hanging out. For example, last week, my family and I made several trays of our annual Pretzel M&M Hugs. While hanging out in the kitchen, we laughed and talked as we prepared our treats. In making time for each other, we found a deeper sense of connection. It was fun and very meaningful to me!
Take pride in being unproductive some of the time
In a society that prides itself on productivity, it can feel strange and even scary to be unproductive. During the holidays, the temptation to stay busy often kicks into high gear. Keep in mind that those moments of downtime are where we tend to discover deeper aspects of our family members. But sometimes it’s in those moments of downtime that we discover deeper aspects of our family members. Watching a child read, play a game or jump on a trampoline outside, is where we can delight in them even further.
Put personal pleasure back in your parenting
Parenting is a demanding job, no matter the age of your kids. It can be difficult to make time for yourself, especially around the holidays. But enjoying some leisure time for yourself can help you lighten up, and be a better, more relaxed parent. So take a risk this holiday season, even for just a few hours. Go ahead and do something you truly enjoy. For example, I love surfing, mountain biking, and gardening. You may love baking, sewing or writing. Sometimes going to a movie can be a nice escape. Taking time for personal pleasure can help clear your mind and give you the energy you need to find your happy place again. Your personal pleasure is a vital part of helping you put the happy back in your holidays.
A Point to Ponder
This holiday season, don’t get caught up in the activity trap and let the happy get away from you. Try implementing these five simple tricks in your week and see if you don’t find yourself – and your kids– a bit more relaxed, connected and joyful.
Author: Steve Cuffari For many, Steve Cuffari is the mentor that parents call on to make their parenting style warmer, easier and more affective. He is the founder of inTouch Parenting, a company devoted to helping today's parents calm the chaos, raise emotionally intelligent kids, and nurture families that thrive. read more about Steve Cuffari here...