Being Mindful During the Holidays While Parenting Young Children

Posted on 27 November, 2018 at 13:10
I love the holiday season: decorating my house, signing gifts to my small children from Santa, driving around looking at light up houses, Christmas music in the car all the time, the list goes on. But this month is also the most stressful time of year for many people for a variety of reasons. Mindfulness focuses on being present in the moment, which can be a challenge with all the external messages around the holidays. But staying in the present increases our enjoyment of the holiday season and helps us experience what we have always loved the most about it. Here are some tips for staying mindful during the season:

1. Turn off the phone during holiday events. Nothing keeps us away from what is in front of us like our smart phones. Still need to take pictures or video? Have a family digital camera that the kids can also use without the distractions of the social media updates and texts. Alternatively put your phone on airplane mode so you can still take photos but not receive any updates.

2. Pair down on commitments. There are a ton of parties and fun activities going on during this month. It's ok to say no to some (or most!) so you have time to be emotionally present at the ones you want to be at the most. Anxiety increases with the hustle and bustle. And if you???re not enjoying it, you are probably not being present wherever you are.

3. Turn on the music! For the month of December, Christmas music is the genre of choice at our house. So we love to get some tunes going and sing/dance along while we let the stress of the season go. If holiday music isn't your thing, find a genre that works for you. My four year old actually has started to "require" us to sit in the parking lot at daycare at drop off to finish whatever holiday song is on the radio before he goes in. And I actually think it puts everyone in the car in a positive mindset to start our busy days!

4. Keep it simple. Your kids are going to remember the small things so no need to sweat the big stuff. When I talk to young children and families about the holidays, children generally are looking forward to things like seeing relatives, baking cookies, decorating the house, driving around to see lights etc. All of these things are easy to engage in while setting aside other stressors for the mean time. No need to make it Pinterest perfect.

5. Keep the routines. How much we want to push the bedtimes and turn everything upside down for special occasions, your children will benefit most from continuing to have the expected still happen. And when your kids are more regulated, it gives you more energy to be mindful yourself.

6. Take time for yourself! While parenting, it is easy to get wrapped up in the spirit of giving your child the best memories. But it is essential that you take time daily for yourself to be mindful. You can use an app with mindfulness exercises (Insight Timer, Headspace, and Calm are great ones), engage in a daily mantra, or listen to quiet music. Even 5 minutes can make a difference.

Happy holidays from all of us at Mindful Families!

~Amy Engelhard, LMFT

Categories: Parenting, Children, Mindfulness

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