“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” – Mother Teresa
For many of us, this is a season of holidays, of remembering and celebrating traditions, both spiritual and personal; a time to spend with family and friends, enjoying the joy of the season. But it can also be a stressful season; a season with too much to do and too little time to do it, with the expectations and pressures of perfection or of replicating holidays of the past, a time when the loss of loved ones is felt more deeply. At this time, it is even more important to remember to take care of yourself, remember to take time to connect and practice present awareness to allow yourself to enjoy each moment.
Taking Care of Yourself – Holiday Self-Care
In this season of high hopes and high expectations, it easy for us to get so wrapped up in everything that has to be done by a certain time – gifts to buy, homes to decorate, meals to cook, trips to plan, obligations to fulfill – that we forget to take care of ourselves. But just as a car needs fuel to run, we need fueling to keep up with everything we have to do, even more so than usual. Without taking time to eat healthy foods, get regular sleep and exercise, and take time for mental breaks, we can easily become run down, exhausted, frazzled and short-tempered. When I am feeling any of these things, I try to take a break and consider what I might need to do to make time for myself in the next few minutes and then, for a little time each day, if possible. If you are regular with your self-care, you probably already know what works best for you, but if you need extra ideas see Dr. Paula Bloom’s Grinch Prevention, How to Stay Mentally Healthy During the Holidays or Owlet Care’s Natural Energy Boosters for Parents.
Take Time to Connect
Another thing that can get lost in the holiday rush are the quiet moments we take to connect with our family and loved ones. One way I’ve tried to make sure I get in some time is to connect the first thing in the morning, before I get swept up in the busyness of the day. While my daughter and I have a morning wake up routine when I get her up for school, and my husband and I take time to connect with a hug and a kiss good morning, my two-year old son often wakes up on his own, wandering out, blanket in hand, asking to be picked up when my hands are busy packing lunches, making breakfast or helping to get my husband and daughter out the door to the bus on time. Instead of brushing him off with a quick, “Good morning!” and a reminder that we’ll play when his sister and daddy are gone, I’ve made a habit of stopping whatever I’m doing and squatting down on the floor, arms open, to greet him. My gift for taking this time to connect is when he walks into my embrace, sinks down between my knees, rests his head on my leg and smiles.
Another fun time we’ve had connecting lately is while we read, Fish Kisses at Bedtime by Marianne Richmond, during his regular bedtime routine. This simple, colorfully illustrated book describes the way different animals say goodnight: fish kiss, puppies nuzzle, gorillas hug, etc. After I read each page, we connect by coping the animals in their different displays of affection. At the end of the book, there is a two-page spread of each of the animals, which allows your child to choose which form of affection they would like. I thought this book would be a great way to playfully connect with small children who might need a little more positive attention, or any children at all. Our favorites are favorites, the ones elicit the most giggles, are the chomping crocodiles and the snorting pigs. (See also Farm Kisses).
Practice Present Moment Awareness
A few weeks ago my daughter and I read, The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth, based on the a story by Leo Tolstoy. While the book was above the current comprehension of my four-year-old, the message was a great reminder to me about the importance of focusing on what is in front of me. The narrator, a little boy, is looking for the answers to three questions: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? (or, as they made more sense to me: What is the most important time? Who is the most important person? What is the most important thing I should do?) Throughout the story, the little boy asks various friends and animals for the answers, but finds none that satisfy him. Finally he visits a wise turtle who shows him the answers he seeks: Now is the most important time. The person you are with is the most important person. The most important thing to do is what you are doing right now.
During this busy holiday, remember: the moment you are in is the most important moment, the person you are with is the most important person and what you are doing / or not doing at that moment is the most important thing you could be doing. Hopefully, this mindset will help us all to remember to stay present and enjoy what can be a very joyful time of the year. For more on mindfulness during the holidays, see Zen Habits How to be Mindful During the Holidays or Mindful Magazine’s Article “Be” Home for the Holidays
Conscious Living / Parenting Resources
And if that isn’t enough…. Here are a few winter / holiday survival guides: Aha! Parenting Winter Holiday Survival Guide or 15 Ways to Stay Sane During the Holiday Season.
These parenting websites were recommended to me recently and I was really impressed. Hand-in-Hand Parenting and Janet Landsbury’s Blog
And, finally, if you haven’t had a chance to check out The Conscious Parenting Notebook, you can click HERE to use the discount code “HappyHolidays” for $5.00 off your own Conscious Parenting Notebook for just $4.99.
Thanks for reading! (and I hope you have (or had) a wonderful holiday!)
What about you? Do you have any ideas for staying conscious and joyful during the holiday season?
Sharon, Author, The Conscious Parenting Notebook