My two-year-old woke up too early (again!), my coffee cream had soured, I hit my head on the car door, and the house was already a mess at 8am. It’s days like this that joy is more of a choice than a feeling. On my way to take my daughter to preschool I found myself wanting to complain to someone about the rough start to my morning. Instead, I chose to let my thoughts focus on the Father. His love and grace far supercede any hiccup in my plans. How we feel is important, but focusing more on life’s challenges than turning to Jesus and laying it at His feet can lead to being easily overwhelmed. The holiday season, specifically with young children, can lead to this feeling, among many others. I’ll outline a few tips that may encourage you to chose and experience joy throughout this chaotic and wonderful season.
Having a consistent schedule is so important for children. Consistent bed and mealtimes help children have a sense of safety and security. This is especially true during the holidays. My family travels often on holidays as I’m sure many of yours do. I’ve found that keeping my 2-year-old daughter’s nap and bedtime the same no matter whose house or what time zone we are on really makes a difference! This may not be as necessary with older children but little ones really benefit. I know grandma wants to take her to look at lights and everyone wants her to come to the late dinner at a restaurant but we have learned that it’s okay to prioritize her schedule. She won’t be little for very long and she will soon be more flexible. It’s okay and very healthy to communicate your child’s individual needs to others.
It’s common around the holidays to visit relatives that you may not see as often. While my husband and I were thrilled to see my husband’s grandfather over Thanksgiving, my daughter was not as sure. We don’t see him very often so he is essentially a stranger to her. Instead of forcing her to hug, kiss, talk to, or sit on his lap, we give her space to make her own relationship with him. We talk about him before visiting and our demonstration of love and relationship with him help her to see he is a trusted adult. By the end of the day, she was talking to and playing games with him. I believe it’s very important to respect the boundaries our little ones have and pay attention to their emotional needs. I wise adult will recognize the child is not being disrespectful but forging a relationship on their own, which is an amazing and valuable skill!
Fun! Yes, FUN! I find myself focused on laundry, what in the world to make for dinner, and all of the other lesser important tasks of life that seem to stack up in my mind like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Fun doesn’t make my to-do list as often as I’d like. I’m working on changing that. I live in a house that really values humor and laughter, but often I find myself too “busy” to really enjoy it. I am looking for opportunities to take myself less seriously as a wife, a mom, and a person! One thing I’m doing is choosing time in the day to PLAY with my daughter. Not hanging out doing dishes or cooking while she plays and calling it quality time, but truly getting involved with what she’s doing, following her lead, and having fun! I’m using funny voices, letting her choose my clothes, and dancing like a crazy person. It helps my joy be more evident to my family when I more relaxed. And I’ve also found it impossible to maintain a frown when dancing 🙂
So, this holiday season, have some fun! Your family won’t remember that toy that you waited in line for, the dinner meticulously planned, or the gorgeous decorations as much as they will remember the joy you spread to them and others!
If you have any questions or would like to meet to talk more about this or anything else in your life, I’d love to meet you. Please call or email me anytime!
Ashley Barkley, LPC (940)222-8703 ext 701 firstname.lastname@example.org