December can be an amazing and busy time of year. Filled with fun activities, this time of year can also come with party invitations, special events, and out of the ordinary obligations. Add to that the stress of shopping for the perfect gift, cleaning your house for your in-laws, and coming up with new things for Elf on the Shelf. December can pass filled with fun but when piled on top off of all the usual stuff that life presents, this season can create a lot of stress and a sigh of relief when it’s all over. So how can we live this December with intention – making meaningful memories and minimizing stress?
Many parents recognize the importance of presence over presents but sometimes this knowledge just adds additional stress and soon we are worried about what we are “supposed” to be doing but not! So here are four ways to be present and intentional this year without adding additional stress and making yourself crazy.
Presence Over Presents
1. Keep your Usual Routines– What routines does your family usually engage in throughout the year? Do you have dinner together? Do you read together before bedtime? Keeping these routines during a busy time of year can help your family to continue to connect even when things get crazy. Children will appreciate the time together and will benefit from the continued routine and knowing what to expect next.
2. Protect your Family Time– This time of year is filled with obligations and to do lists. Take a few moments this year to carve out some family time each day and put it on the calendar. Identifying a period of time (even if it’s short!) to spend together each day can be grounding and bring you back together. Recognize this as your time to connect with your loved ones and protect your family time together. By scheduling the things that matter the most, you ensure it’s not scheduled over as things comes up.
3. Give to others– Take some time to identify a need in your community and talk to your children about it. Could you pick out a toy together to take to your local homeless shelter? Can you volunteer a few hours at the soup kitchen? Yes, this adds more to your to do list and can even take up a significant amount of time. But serving others together enables your family to return to busy life with renewed perspective and sense of gratitude. Identifying something meaningful for your family can become a meaningful tradition for your children.
4. Involve your Children – As adults, we can sometimes get caught up in all of the activities we have to get done. Could this time be spent being intentional with your children if they’re included? Maybe it’s possible to include them in decorating or cooking in the kitchen this year? Baking, wrapping presents, and other items checked off of your to do list might be some of the moments your kids enjoy most.
In an effort to be the best parents possible, we sometimes strive for perfection. We spend hours planning and scrutinizing small details of our holiday plans. But in reality, it might be the simple things that mean the most. If you look forward to planning extravagant meals and coming up with creative Elf on the Shelf ideas than those should be continued as part of your family’s story. But if you don’t, that’s ok too. In simple ways, we can connect as families and create the best memories.
Amanda Regalia, M.A. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. Amanda specializes in working with families and children ages 5 and up. She is passionate about helping people to create practical solutions that support them in achieving their goals and improving their relationships and life.