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🧑🎄 Surviving the Holidays (plus drone shots of our Christmas village)
5 quick tips and reminders on managing expectations and kids during the holidays
Welcome to this week’s special holiday post - a combination of advice for parents to help us all get through the holiday season as well as the first look at our 2022 “drone cam” of our Christmas village. The village has been part of our holiday season traditions for a few years now, part of the setup alongside the tree and other decorations. We add one thing to it every year and it’s a family decision to pick out each year’s addition. This year, notice Doug’s Donut Shop.
I love the holidays - the lights, the holiday treats, the gift-giving, family time, reflections - all of it. And also, especially with young kids, it can be exhausting. All the routines are broken, tantrums are up, and the logistics of travel, presents, and the lack of work distractions make this a joyous but not necessarily a relaxing time.
As we head into this intense period, I look to my favorite resources for strength and ideas, specifically, Aha Parenting has a Survival Guide for the Holidays as well as a list of ideas for December family traditions (they updated this recently with COVID in mind). So I wanted to share my tips and reminders (to myself) from my reading and my experiences over the years.
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Disconnect from work
Switching gears and going into 100% parent/spouse/friend mode is important - sometimes it’s more important for people around you (such as your kids having you be around) than it is for you. My kids are getting old enough to notice and comment on my ability to be present and my oldest now says things like “I loved the holidays the most because we got to spend lots of family time together.” Their memories are worth it. For all the times I’ve tried to multitask through the holidays in the past, I do not remember a single call or email that I sent at the end of December.
Ideas on how to do this: If you are able to, start actively slowing yourself down as the holidays approach. Try not to start new projects in December, practice winding down and clearing out your inbox/slack messages, and be conscious of whether or not something really needs to happen in December or if it can wait until January.
🏝 Also, check out Adam’s Field Guide to Happiness: How to Take Amazing Time Off
Mix in low-key activities with all the excitement
One of our favorite things as a family is driving around our neighborhood looking at Christmas lights, listening to holiday music, and drinking hot chocolate. It’s not fancy, but it’s memorable and lovely. Last year, we looked for Christmas unicorns - you’d be surprised to know how many of those make it into front yard decorations.
Other ideas are to watch a holiday movie as a family, or decorate the tree together and discuss what memory each ornament brings.
Remove expectations from yourself and your kids
Everyone gets overstimulated with excitement, expectations, and sugar. I am going to try to be more mindful of the surroundings and try to find quiet moments for the kids and myself when I start seeing tired eyes and unproductive energy. Also, my plan is to really try to do no more than one big activity per day and preferably not every day.
Other ideas: find 5 minutes to meditate to get yourself back into the zone, and actively give yourself and your kids grace by getting down to their eye level and giving them more hugs. Our kids need to know that these big feelings are ok and they are not bad kids for losing control.
Use screen time as a tool
We try to be mindful of how much TV and tablet time the kids get, but especially during the holidays, we think about how to strategically deploy this to ensure everyone stays sane. This doesn’t mean that kids dictate how much TV they get and when they get to watch it, but instead, we have a list of options to offer when we need to get something done (prep a holiday meal or bake), need a downtime activity or just a change of pace/scenery for 20-30 minutes.
At the ages of 5 and almost 9, our kids are into Animal Jam as well as finally getting into holiday movies - such as Elf, the Grinch, and Nightmare Before Christmas.
We do a pretty good job always getting kids outside for a playground or a park over the holidays, but I’m going to try to do better at also moving my body and having a dedicated 30 minutes to a workout for myself. I find myself to be a much better human if I get some movement in. When traveling, I notoriously overpack for kids and under-pack for myself, so remembering the basics: tennis shoes and sports bras is pretty key if you are to have a chance to get a workout in. I have also been using the Peloton app and in the past have used Apple Fitness+ when I’m on the go.
Ideas: If you are traveling, go on an adventure to find a new park, explore a meadow (or a city center) and mix in a fun treat to eat outside.
Enjoy the season!