Get some valuable tips on how to stress less and enjoy the holidays more from Parent Education Director Dara Newman, LCPC.
Holiday Season seems to come when we are least prepared for it—like every year! How many self-help articles do we have to read (and write!) and how many times must we talk with each other about how stressed we are this time of year before we learn to listen to our bodies? Our bodies tell us what we need to do; our heads tell us what we should do. What would happen if we gave ourselves permission to do what we need even if it’s not the “right” thing—the thing we feel like we should do? What about our children? What message would we be offering if we showed compassion to our own limits? Similarly, if we see our children as individuals, with their own needs for solitude, downtime, and just being (which to us may seem the opposite of doing the “right” thing)? Isn’t our goal in parenting to help our children grow up and know and like themselves? Don’t we want to teach our children how to pay attention to their insides, so they can learn to care for their own well-being, and thus, can show-up in the world as whole and integrated individuals?
For many of us, including me, this is much easier said than done. For several reasons, we have a hard time honoring the true needs of individuals. I believe the most important reason is that we haven’t learned to recognize our own needs, because our individual needs were dismissed in the name of “it’s the right thing to do.” Talk about mixed messages! The right thing to do is more important than what you NEED? Hmm? What does that say about your worth? (Importantly, I am talking about genuine needs, not wants.)
Yesterday, I was preparing holiday gifts and the day got crazier and crazier. My son went to get a Christmas tree, which like everything else, took longer than I expected. Tired and wet, he came home late for a friend’s birthday party. There was mild tension in my body. We were late! A slight blanching of color in his face and glazed eyes indicated his depleted energy level as his astutely self-aware question, “Do I have to go? I am so beat,” corroborated. I know (despite a slow learning curve) that, as an introvert, his energy level is only going to be that much more diminished by a gaggle of friends. But, we said he was going and it was someone’s special celebration and going was the “right” thing to do. There was more tension in my body. Should I do the “right” thing or recognize that my son has acknowledged that he has reached his limit?
For the next few weeks (and years), are we all going to be forced into doing the “right thing” or are we going to honor that what is right for you might not be right for your child’s temperament or immediate needs? Families will be gathering, eating, talking, opening presents, and sharing time together. When our children are melting down, not engaging with the grandparents, rebelling against going to yet another party, and showing a lack of societal level involvement in the holiday spirit, how do we respond in a way that says I see you and you matter as much as anyone else?
If our individual differences can be recognized and honored, then how great we will be together! Happy Holidays!
Looking for more tips on helping everyday life go smoother with your kids? Consider a parenting consult! All services are offered on a sliding scale. Call 721.7690.