Perhaps the greatest gift we can offer our children at Christmas time is a non-frazzled parent.
Our children feed off our stress, and they really want this to be a joyous time of year. So do we which is why we often go overboard, trying too hard to make it perfect.
But if we pile our plates too high with commitments and unreasonable expectations, and empty our wallets beyond our limits, we miss the mark. We put the silly in ‘silly season’ and lose the celebratory feel that we’d feel if we were more relaxed, present and spontaneous.
What our children need from us this time of year is US.
And if we want to give our best selves, we need to put ourselves on our priority list. Caring for our own needs and putting some limits in place will allow us to make the season special for everyone. It might mean we say NO to some outings and responsibilities. We really don’t have to do it all, and doing less but whole-heartedly is so much more fulfilling. Saying no is not the opposite of being kind!
If we simplify our menus and our shopping we are not ‘ruining Christmas’.
What we’re doing is shifting the focus - from presents to presence, from time in the kitchen to time with our family.
We can also share jobs around so everyone has a chance to contribute. We often decide it’s easier to do it all than take the time to give others instructions on how we like things done, but there’s a third option: let them do it their way.
Does it matter if the table is decorated differently each year, or if the salads are more ‘creative’ than culinary masterpieces? Our children love to be involved and even very little ones can be in charge of wrapping paper making, and older ones at selecting gifts or decoration duty. Let’s keep the fun in the season by swapping that frazzled feeling for a truly festive one.