Is anyone else feeling the overwhelm of the year coming to a close?
Parties, dinners, graduations, the organisation of trips away, shopping, shopping, shopping…
Are your children feeling ‘off track and stressed out?’
Could it be they’re reflecting the negative energy you’re putting out?
I know as a mama I’m having my fair share of ‘moments’ as the holidays rapidly approach, and I know that my children are vibing off of that too. We are all so ready for the holidays to begin whilst also being aware that, ‘this too shall pass.’ And it does pass, seemingly more and more quickly as the years go by.
This time of year is a wrap up of all that has come in the months before while at the same time often an avalanche of chaos, stress and anxiety around the numerous things we need to get done, to attend, to buy, to cook, to clean, item after item that needs to be handled and ticked off our many, many holiday ‘to do’ lists. This can create tension within homes, anger around finances being stretched, and anxiety around events with young children.
As parents our fuses often become short. We start getting snappy, and at times impatient. Our stress becomes our children’s stress and before we know it, we’re yelling and growling mean words, were punishing our children and screaming at the top of our lungs, we may even lose what is left of our self-control and give them a smack on their behind… Why? What are we achieving by this stress induced mania? Happy holiday vibes? Beautiful family memories?
The holidays are exciting and so magical for children. It’s normal for them to get a little over excited now and then, maybe even a bit cranky and tired and to need a bit of extra connection and downtime to help them reset and get their behaviour back on track.
Think about it, as an adult would you change your behaviour by being hit, insulted and screamed at? Adults behave as well as they are treated. So why don’t we expect the same for children?
Human beings of ALL ages will tend to operate on this very same principle. We will all behave as well as we are treated. Our response to being treated well is to treat others well in return.
As quoted by Dr Elliot Barker, director of the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse, puts it beautifully.
“Children who have their needs met early by loving parents are subjected totally and thoroughly to the most severe form of ‘discipline’ conceivable: they don’t do what you don’t want them to do because they love you so much!”
This holiday season try slowing down a bit to make the time for rest and reconnection. Try only using ‘no’ for things that may cause harm. Stop cluttering the airwaves with a thousand ‘don’ts’ for things that really don’t matter. And try rephrasing your commands into invitations to cooperate: ‘Let’s put on some quiet music and take a ten-minute rest. Do you want to sit with me here on the couch or have a lie down in your bed while we rest?’ and ‘Let’s all do a five-minute tidy and see who can pick up the most toys, okay? Ready. Set. Go!’
Set the tone for a much happier home and a better parent/child relationship rather than ‘CALM DOWN NOW!’ or ‘Pick up your toys before I throw them all away!’
Also work on adjusting your expectations to account for the extra busyness and stress of the holidays. The next time you feel yourself getting upset about the mess in your little one’s room, take a moment to stop and think, ‘is this battle about me and my expectations of a ‘clean’ house? Is it age appropriate to expect them to do it on their own? Can I help and ‘show’ my child how to respect their space? And most importantly, does it really matter? Is this a battle worth fighting or can I choose to close the door and come back to this later?
Personally, I want to be more conscious of ending 2018 the same way that I would like to start 2019. I choose to align myself and my family with the same values that I would like to begin next year with. Simplicity. Love. Friendship. Laughter. Respect. Nature and Connection.
I want to close the year by not rushing into it, by slowing down as the year wraps up, spending time with my family and enjoying even the angst and exhaustion of having an overtired young family because that is us right now and that’s ok.
With time I have realised that this season I will never get back again. One-year blurs into the next, and then another year passes, and another. The age of my girls will never be again, I know now that every Christmas holiday is different.
Next year our daughters will be another year older and it will be different yet again…
SO please try to keep this in mind amidst the crazy: Say ‘no’ to whichever social function doesn’t align with you or your family, be mindful of the words that you are using when talking to your children. Enjoy the little and big moments, the significant ones and the simple. But mostly have gratitude for those moments this year, the moments that you will never get back. Because no matter if those moments were dark or light in nature, they are still your moments. ALL of those moments that you have created are the reason that you are here now, even if that reason isn’t yet in the light.
And remember as Jan Hunt so succinctly stated, ‘Every child is no less a human being than we are.’ So, let your children have their human moments, too, good and bad. Try not to overload, overschedule and overwhelm them with your plans and lists and activities.
After all, it’s their holiday as much as it is yours.
Slow down and let them experience the magic instead of just the mania.