This time of year, we talk about peace, joy and family but it can be hard to feel the love when we are overwhelmed, stressed or alone.
Here are 5 things that can help connect more and stress less.
First and foremost, believe this. At any age, your child’s best gift is you and they are yours.
As our children get older and more independent they spend more time away from us. As they spend more time trying to find their individuality and gravitating toward friends, they want to pursue different interests.
The thing that is critical to remember, is that all through this very important process for both parents and children, the reality is that they still want our presence and connection more than anything. Even when they deny it!
Stick with the occasional “do we have to hang with you again?” or “we would do this anyway”. Once together, notice the laughter and joy or maybe even the silence and lack of complaint.
Look for gifts that are more about connection, relationship and self rather than stuff.
This is about giving events that create memories together or gifts that have meaning. Events can be big or small – a hike and hot chocolate, a holiday event, a favourite movie and popcorn, dinner out, making gingerbread houses. These are the memories that are remembered. For actual gifts, try this one – NHA style. Greatness Notes and Boxes are a meaningful and easy way to communicate what we appreciate in our loved ones. They also become a source of strength others can turn to.
When our family was small and young we had a Christmas Elf. It was fun and magical.
The Christmas Elf delivered little surprises each day in Dec. It was our way of doing an Advent kind of activity with a little more mystery. The intent was to move away from hectic, busy and focus on stuff and toward enjoying the moment, feeling excited and being delighted.
All we did was write a note and hide it in a specific spot each day. We used a train that has a door for each day of Dec. You could use anything really. The note would tell them where to look and their hunt took them to a small surprise. It was sometimes a small toy, book, treat or commitment to do something together.
Then our family grew and our children got wiser 🙂
It became a lot of work to write notes and hide stuff for multiples each day. This Christmas Elf sure can get forgetful after a long day when a glass of wine and Gray’s Anatomy is calling! What also came was a bigger focus on the treasure. As our children got older, it also became harder and harder to buy little things. The ‘stuff’ that lights up their eyes got WAY to expensive.
So, for full focus on family time together, we moved to our version of the 12 Days of Christmas. Amazingly, the excitement is still alive to find the message in secret places and see what we will do that day. We are creating lasting memories of BEING together and the pressure is off. They are even often repeating events that have become traditions themselves and we also do not do them all within the 12 days before Christmas. They can count the calendar days themselves now so we spread it out over the whole month.
Look for what is going right.
Family expectations and drama can be high this time of year. With so many details to remember, personalities to contend with and past histories to consider, a family event can become a landmine. Focusing on what is going right can be a game changer. When we shift our energy to something positive, it frees us up to see that and enjoy it. This does not deny any issues that exist, but it does help us hold onto the notion that everyone has baggage and it is theirs. At the end of the day, people are good and want to connect.
When you can, ramp that up to feeling grateful. Even the thorniest of people have contributed to your life in some way. This does not equate to saying pass wrongs were OK or have been forgotten. It equates to letting go of the past and accepting that people are who they are. Keep your boundaries strong and enjoy them for who they are while letting go of the hope that they will change or trying to fix a relationship on your own.
Pick your favorite thing and prioritize making it happen.
This is so important! So often, we can get sucked into the ‘doing’ and forget about the ‘being’. I am not going to say ‘take care of you’. At the end of the day, if you thought about that when you had the opportunity, you probably would have. Instead, take baby steps. Pick one thing each day that is important to you and make it happen. Maybe it is part of the ‘doing’ – many people enjoy that. Maybe you need to get outside. If you can’t get time alone to do that, take the family. Spend time in the community. Giving your time or things to a charity can feel so rewarding. Just sitting quietly watching people bustle by when you aren’t can be nice.
Celebrate all that you have and connect with those around you. Slow down enough to notice the little moments and savour how it feels to be in it. It is only when we notice the peace, love and joy of the season that we can enjoy it.
Marny Elliott is a Nurtured Heart Approach® (NHA) Trainer, Coach and Emotional Health Therapist. She empowers parents, educators and professionals to use this effective, heart centred approach to transform behaviour, build relationships and grow the Inner Wealth® of children. In addition, she provides holistic counselling to adults seeking to address defeating patterns and improve their emotional health. Please visit www.joywithin.ca, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250.218.8702.