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Stress-Free Holidays: Mindful Parenting Tips to Keep You Sane

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Red, blue, bells, miles of gift wrapping and lights; every year, the same joyous symbols and rituals are exercised all over the world and it can be… overwhelming. We all know that constructive, intangible meanings of the holiday season easily get lost in the time-crunching, deal-searching, brainstorming, material-exchanging rumpus.

We also know that practicing mindful parenthood means navigating all of that in a way that prioritizes what you want your child to learn from it - how to maintain relationships, the value of quality time, gratitude, empathy, how to do the dishes…

But like, how do we survive all that!? That’s so much attention to be paid to so many different tasks! Because how are we supposed to model serenity and benevolence while crying over various grocery and gift and to-do lists?

You’re not going to like the answer. You’re going to think it’s counterproductive and the suggestion itself might give you hives. But you have to pause. You have to self-check and notice when you’re starting to really dread things instead of enjoy them.

When you’re there, but preferably before, you need to reset. Whether you like it or not. Because you are not taking care of your child if you are not taking care of yourself. And that has to do with making sure you have the energy and capacity to care for them, yes. But moreover, it has to do with showing them what this time of year means. You are giving them the roadmap to how to do it when it’s their turn in 1 million years. You don’t want them to hate it and resent it and overexert themselves as they prepare to give their children the magic of these rituals. So, you gotta show ‘em the magic. You gotta live it in front of them.

How, exactly?

  • Gifts: Have them help you pick some of them. Let them think about that person and what they like so that it’s a personalized, meaningful expression of care for them, not just a name to cross off a list.

  • Cards: Make them together. They can even choose the words or decorate the card.

  • Food: Bake simple cookies with them and have them decorate them with the color or the shape they want. It’s an opportunity for them to be creative and they make wonderful gifts!

  • Music: Learn one or two verses from a simple holiday song that you can sing while doing errands, driving and preparing for the holiday event. It’s a good reminder to be present.

Of course, all this practice has to happen from a rested, managed place so you can actually enjoy it and not rush through it.

How, exactly?

  • Time: To prepare the materials to use and the schedule to accomplish the to-do’s.

Give yourself waaaaaaay more time than you think you need. We often neglect to account for transitions, mistakes, disruptions and then we’re stretched for time and all full of cortisone. Put alternative options in place, decide who you can delegate things to if needed, and decide what you’re willing to omit.

  • Space: For the influx of project materials, gifts, seasonal accessories in your home.

Clear a space where the boxes and tools and wrapping paper can live until you’re ready to use them. It’s so disruptive to your day-to-day life when your usual living space is dominated by random stuff for weeks leading up to an event.

  • Attention: To your own thresholds, habits, health, mood.

Take some regular time alone, even if you’re extroverted or feel like you don’t need it. It gives you the freedom to consider your own associations with the holidays and how you can keep or change them. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time! You could take 10 quiet minutes to visualize your upcoming event or just enjoy some stillness.

  • Permission: To accommodate delays and interruptions, abandon an idea, make yourself happy.

Remember to provide happiness for yourself while you’re doing it for others. Laugh at the burnt meal you spent 12 hours preparing, retract an invitation, cancel a dinner, sleep for 12 straight hours, binge those terrible Hallmark movies because they’re dated and embarrassing but every once in a while they make you cry.

From all of us at Child In Mind, have a happy, fun, and fulfilling holiday!

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