No Regrets Come January: Simple Ways to Connect as a Family During the Holiday Hustle
As November edges along, you look forward to laid-back days filled with hot chocolate, holiday movies, and time at home.
Then the actual holidays arrive.
Your lazy-day dreams crumble under the weight of overtired kids as you rush out the door to another holiday gathering. Sadly, in the shuffling from one place to the next, you lose the blessing of truly enjoying your family.
This holiday season, when the new year rolls around, make sure you’ve really connected with those you love the most.
Give Thought to Your Schedule
If you have little people under the age of eight, plan your holiday comings-and-goings carefully. Too many gatherings in too little time is a recipe for disaster — for you and your children.
A few tips:
Divide your days into thirds – morning, afternoon, and evening. As you’re able, make sure at least one of those thirds is free. Have a Breakfast with Santa? Leave the afternoon free for naps or a movie. An afternoon playdate scheduled? Leave the morning clear for lounging in pajamas. Just like you, your child needs a balance of activity and downtime — and they need you to plan both.
Communicate well. While you may have December’s calendar organized in your head, your child doesn’t. Going from the predictable routine of a school day to the laid-back days of break can be a jolt. Let your child know what to expect each day. Create a simple calendar for the days of break and share the people, places, and activities they can expect at each event.
Connect through Reading
You know the benefits of reading to your child.
But if you need a little boost of motivation, an April 2018 study reported on by The New York Times, reveals the benefits may be even greater than researchers first suspected.
While most of us know reading together builds early language and literacy skills, according to researchers, “the parent-child-book moment even has the potential to help curb problem behaviors like aggression, hyperactivity, and difficulty with attention.”
And that’s not to mention children of all ages (even pre-teens and teens) love being read to. Open any book, any time, and more than likely you’ll have your child on the couch within seconds.
If you want even more laughter when reading, change your voice for different characters or even close the book at the most exciting part. Your child will beg you to finish!
Put some books on hold or visit your local library’s special holiday section for some classic books to have on hand in your home or in the car.
Involve Your Child in Gift-Giving
As you work through your gift list, make a note of ways you can involve your child in gift-giving — especially for those special people like teachers, coaches, or club leaders.
Here are a few ideas for knocking out your gift list with your child:
Give together. Select gifts you and your child can make together. Mason jar recipes are wonderful gifts for neighbors, teachers, and community members. Gather the ingredients, measuring cups, and some funnels and you’ll be ready to knock out some gifts in no time — even sneaking in some math while measuring. Give the jars out early so recipients can use them for holiday guests.
Express gratitude together. Model sharing words of encouragement by writing your child’s teacher a note of heartfelt thanks for the previous semester. Share the note with your child and, with your help, have them write one of their own. Prompts help pull thoughtful (and amusing) answers to questions and will be sure to delight your child’s teacher.
Work together. If you send holiday photo cards, let your child stuff (and lick!) the envelopes. As they do, they’ll learn how to address an envelope and properly place the stamp.
Serve together. Serving others is another way to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season. Give your child a certain amount of money under one condition — they must use it to bless someone else. Sit back and watch their wheels of generosity turn.
Make Eye Contact
Eye contact goes a long way in your child feeling heard, validated, and important.
Over the break, make a point each day to put down the gift wrap, baking spoon, or smartphone and look into your child’s eyes as they talk. Your full attention, even for a just few minutes each day, fosters connection that will carry both of you through the busyness of the season.
Get on the Floor
As your child is home over the break, it’s your attention they want most. More than gadgets that glow, your child wants to be with you.
After all the gifts have been purchased, give them what no one else can — yourself.
By simply getting off the couch and onto the floor, you’ll enter into your child’s world. They’ll love sharing their time, toys and imagination with you.
Give Your Child Space to be a Child
It’s easy to get caught up in how your child makes you look to other adults — especially during holiday events and gatherings.
From dressing just right, standing up tall, and having impeccable manners, sometimes your expectations are just a little too high — squashing you and your child’s joy.
This holiday, release your child to explore the people and the world around them without the added pressure of too high expectations.
As the holiday hustle rolls through your home, remember the gift you’ve been given in your family.
With just a little bit of planning and a hearty dose of awareness, you’ll have no regrets as you send your child back to school feeling more strongly connected to you than ever.