To the tune of On the Twelfth Day Of Christmas
• 12 children shrieking,
• 11 cards unwritten,
• 10 school performances,
• 9 tardy guests,
• 8 charities waiting,
• 7 surfaces un-dusted,
• 6 gifts not bought,
• 5 telephone rings,
• 4 ignored directions,
• 3 meltdowns,
• 2 exhausted parents
• and a diaper needing a change.
No one ever tells us that the holidays are going to be like the song above. It is so easy to hope that the 9 ladies dancing will help clean up before they go home and that your lovely young child will turn to all and spout, “God Bless Us Everyone!” instead of “Yuck – this stuffing is gross! It’s got raisins!”
At Parenting Power, Real Life Parenting means knowing that holiday celebrations will happen with some good, and some bad and that we’ll muddle through and look back at pictures years from now, erasing most of the bad stuff and laughing at the rest.
If you find yourself thinking, “I hope…doesn’t happen again this Christmas”, then there is a good chance it will – UNLESS you make a plan for it to be different this year. It could be:
• Your teen texting at the table
• Your preschooler complaining about Grandma’s “Yucky Brussels Sprouts”
• Your 6 year old slipping into a jealous funk because brother got a better gift
• Your 10 year old feeling blue because the festivities are over
• You yelling at your in-laws even though you swore you wouldn’t.
If it happened last year, it could happen again, but it doesn’t have to. Let’s be realistic and aware. Take a look at the scenario you are dreading and talk about it with your kids, (or yourself) make a plan to know what the feelings feel like, how they can be handled and what you will do to stop misbehaviours from arising (new script, removing self from the scene). This will set everyone up for success as the holiday festivities begin.
We have one wish for you to carry you through this time of potentially high pressure:
Breathe, Trust, Believe.
Breathe: When things go sideways, and we know that they will, it will be so easy to REACT in the moment. Victor Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning , said, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
Taking a breath creates that space. One breath (in and out) can grant you the time, freedom and power to choose your response.
Trust: We know that, for the most part, our family is there on our side, working for “good” and not for “evil”. Let’s trust that the intentions behind our children’s behaviours are good even if the behaviour seems closer to evil. When we perceive that a child’s behaviour is not about “causing trouble” and more about “making the wrong choice out of excitement or ignorance”, it is easier to remain respectful in our response.
Believe: Believe that our kids can and will do better as they learn strategies to handle a situation. Kids are capable so let’s give them the opportunity to succeed in the many situations that will present themselves this holiday season and beyond.
Let us also believe in our own ability to make better choices as parents. Nothing we do is going to be perfect. When it doesn’t work out quite the way we had hoped it would, we can carry the belief that we can learn from our mistakes and make a better choice next time.
Breathe. Trust. Believe. We hope that this new motto brings peace for you and your family during the holidays.