Holidays - the most wonderful time of the year. You know, when the shopping list is longer than the Christmas tree, the oven is always on and baking a new holiday dessert variation, and you also happen to be wrapping up Q4 at work. For all the joy and excitement of the holidays, many parents feel too stressed about their responsibilities to truly settle down and enjoy the yuletide with their children. And yet, holidays should be about being present with your family.
Even if it’s on the very top of your wish list, no one can wave a magic wand and get your to-do list down to zero. But, there are ways to manage it the stress. Here are three ways to prioritize presence this holiday season, since the best gift you can give your kids is your quality time… and the best gift you can give yourself is a bit of peace.
Disconnect from technology sooner. Even if your after-work routine is staying tuned in on emails and your work phone for a few hours, make the conscious choice to disconnect earlier in the evening. Not only does this help you remain present, but it encourages your children to put the technology away, too. Bonus tip: Have “holiday fun” hours that have one easy rule: no phones. The less distractions in the way of the whole family, the easier it will become to stay mindful and present.
Plan holiday events and activities ahead of time. It’s easier to stay stress-free when you have a clear view of the weeks ahead… including events and activities. Aside from what’s already on the calendar (such as holiday parties and pre-planned dinners with friends), plan ahead for holiday activities that you typically wouldn’t plan for, such as watching The Grinch or making snow globes. It gives the whole family activities to look forward to.
Ask your kids to help you brainstorm their favorite holiday activities, then add them to the calendar. That way you know that there’s time to be fully present carved out on the calendar - and the mayhem of work and holiday preparation can’t touch it.
Plan preparation ahead of time, too! Just as you have your holiday events and activities in the calendar, make sure there’s time set aside to get ready for each of them. For example: if you’re having friends over for dinner, make sure there’s ample time carved out for you to run to the grocery store, cook, set the table - whatever needs to be done for preparation. This also creates a clear separation between time to be present, and time to prepare - since the two don’t intermingle well.
Engage your kids in fun holiday responsibilities. Kids love taking on fun responsibilities during the holiday season. Ask your kids to partake as “Santa’s Elves” and lend a hand in holiday baking, gift-wrapping, and tackling the grocery list. This way, the items on your to-do list can be conquered together… which can be far more fun.
The best present is presence. Happy Holidays!