With all the holiday hustle and bustle, it might seem impossible to practice conscious parenting. Don’t give up. A little Christmas spirit is all you need.
What are your favorite Christmas memories?
When you stop and reflect, do you conjure up scenes of snow-covered hills, crackling fires, hot cocoa and sugar cookies? Do you see a family gathered around a bejeweled Christmas tree, with colorfully wrapped packages piled all around? Can you hear the sounds of caroling; or the music of children’s laughter?
For many of us, these are the images of a perfect Christmas. But here’s the rub: For most of us, the images are not an exact match for our real-life experiences, past or present. (Are you thinking, “Not even close”?)
How was your Christmas, this year? Perhaps you felt disconnected from your children, spouse or other relatives. Was someone tired and cranky all day long? (Was it you?) Perhaps you are now feeling torn between a week of festivities with the family and a week of mind-numbing, year-end, something-or-other at work.
Maybe you just missed out on the magic of it all.
If your Christmas was less than perfect – or simply over too fast, after all that preparation – don’t give up hope. Christmas is still here.
And maybe there are still a few gifts waiting to be unwrapped. Conscious parenting teaches us to pay attention to the small moments and tiny treasures in life. They might not be done up in pretty paper with skating penguins or sledding polar bears, but I bet you can still find them under the tree.
You just have to look a little closer. Here’s how:
1. Accept – and bless – where you are right now.
Holidays, like families, come in all colors, shapes and sizes. If your family’s Christmas was just a little bit blue, that’s okay. It’s all part of the human experience. Take a moment to check in with yourself now. How are you feeling? How is your family holding up in all the holiday craziness? Accept whatever you find. Give yourselves a little love. Be at peace.
2. Set an intention for the rest of the holiday.
Now, take a moment to think about how you want to experience the week ahead. Create a Christmas intention, prayer or blessing for you and your family. This would be a beautiful activity to do with your kids. Write down your family blessing and post it somewhere visible. Agree that each time someone passes it, they will stop and read it out loud for everyone’s enjoyment.
3. Clear your calendar… as much as possible… unless it’s something fun.
Remember that winter is a season of slowing down and reflection. Don’t fight the tide with an endless stream of marathon ski trips and midnight parties. Take a look at your to-do list and try to cut it in half. Have fun with your children, but be sure to take time out for that cup of cocoa by the fire. Snuggle up and read a favorite Christmas story. Sing those carols. ‘Tis the season.
4. Give everyone a little alone time.
If you are already dreaming of sending the kids back to school, you probably need some “me time.” Keep in mind that your children may need this as well. Chances are good that you’re all over-stimulated, over-tired and cranked up on too much sugar. Let each child take a favorite toy or book and find a comfy spot for an hour or two of quiet. Do this each afternoon, if possible. Ah, nap time.
5. Be ambassadors of Christmas.
Still struggling to find your Christmas spirit? Try giving some to someone else. Trust me, this is where you will find the magic. Wherever you go and whatever you do this week, make every interaction friendly and joyful. Maybe take a dozen candy canes, tie ribbons around them and stuff them in your pocket.
Now, go about your family business. At the gas station, the super market, the ski resort… it doesn’t matter. Just find someone, look them in the eye, smile – pass out a candy cane – and say “Happy Holidays!”
Surprise. Gratitude. Joy. Love. Hope. You might find any of these gifts along the way.
Let me know how it goes.
Meg Brown is a former corporate executive and single mother of two gorgeous sons. She writes about conscious parenting, mid-life mommies, adoption and her own journey to wholeness at her website, www.ConsciousFamilyJournal.com.
Originally published in 2009