Stress-free Holidays: Parenting with L.O.V.E.

Posted on December 22, 2017

It starts just before Thanksgiving when we suddenly realize how much we have to do and begin to worry about how we are going to get everything done before Christmas or the end of the year. We all have expectations as to how the holiday season will go, and we strive to make it better than we did last year.

Parents are under tremendous stress at this time—with not enough time and often not enough money—trying to keep up with our extended family, friends, and neighbors. We become so caught up in decorating, shopping, cooking, and wrapping gifts that we don’t even realize we are teaching our children that a holiday has to achieve some imagined perfection while exhausting us at the same time. We become attached to the way things “should” be, rather than being content with the way things are.

Being stressed out is a disservice to the holiday season. This is a time to be joyous and celebratory. It’s a time to come together with our families and community, yet too often we are derailed from the true essence of the holiday by our to-do list and a host of self-imposed expectations.

Last week I had the chance to sit down with Dr. Nelly Farnoody for a special episode of “MomTalk LA,” where we discussed how we can better manage stress and be more mindful over the holidays.

I encourage you to spend time watching it if you are feeling overwhelmed by the season. Above all, use LOVE to inspire mindfulness during your holiday season.

L Listen mindfully and intentionally. When you’re tired or losing your cool, pause and ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now?” Listen mindfully and intentionally to the answer, and take a break. Otherwise your family will bear the brunt of your emotional spillover. It is up to you to set the tone for a calm, peaceful, and joyous holiday.

OBe open-minded and open-hearted. Make the effort with your children and family members to listen and truly hear what they say. Don’t get stuck on opinions and ideas that don’t serve the spirit of your heart. Who says you have to do the same thing every year? Be flexible and up for change and suggestions. When we listen mindfully and intentionally, it opens our mind to understand another person better. And understanding others opens our hearts and creates connections. Isn’t that what the spirit of the season is about?

VBe a vehicle for compassion and kindness. When kids or other family members are having a difficult moment, open your mind and heart to compassion and kindness. Balance their emotions with a response that helps them get through this happy yet highly stressful time. Experience the simple joys of the holidays by cuddling with your kids, sharing hot cocoa or tea, or just being together. This helps us create unforgettable memories. 

E Embrace the moment for what it is. Whether the moment is good, bad, or ugly, accept it. If a child or family member is letting off steam, choose not to jump into their emotional reaction. More importantly, don’t add more negativity to the moment by gossiping about it or talking about someone behind his or her back. Simply embrace the moment with an “it is what it is” attitude. Accept it with no resistance. As I say in my book, The “Perfect” Parent, perfection is what has shown up in the moment. What makes it feel imperfect is our resistance.

And during this small holiday window of time off, block out ten minutes to reflect on the past year and what its learning experiences were for you. Ask your kids to do the same, and I promise you’ll hear things that you missed during the year. It’s a great way to learn, grow, and enhance communication.

While you’re sharing those stories with your kids, talk about the recent national natural disasters and how the children of families affected by those disasters are celebrating. Let them know that having fewer things does not define happiness. What’s important is the support and love extended to those families from each other and from friends, community, and the nation as a whole. This might segue into how your kids or your family can reach out and continue to help.

To sum up, I would like to take this moment to express not only my joy but also my sincere gratitude for your support and advocacy and for being part of our Tools Of Growth family. From our family to yours, wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Holiday Season and a Joyful 2018.