In this five-part podcast, family life counselor Diane Moore shares helpful tips for families to survive the holidays.
Parents have a real conflict at Christmas; it’s a time for peace on earth, good will toward men. Remember, the angels came to the shepherds and said, “peace on earth.” The problem that parents have is, that it’s a time for a lot of pressure, especially for moms.It’s a time to buy all the gifts for everybody. Time to make sure that the meal is just right. All the decoration that has to happen to the house usually falls a lot on mom. Then, there are relatives that have to be dealt with. Sometimes there’s difficult relatives that have to be factored in.
So, a lot of pressure can happen at Christmas for parents.
At the same time, the kids are not at their regular schedule, so the kids are either out of school, if you are home schooling parent you are not on your regular schedule.
What do kids do when they are not on their regular schedule? It gets kind of crazy.
For a parent that idea of peace on earth can be just a really nice song and not have anything to do with their life.
So, what does a parent do, who wants to take something that’s very special and part of a Christmas, and make sure that it comes into their home in a practical way, the kids feel peace on earth? I mean, that was the whole purpose behind the first Christmas is that Christ came to bring peace on earth. What does that mean in your home? For parents it means that they can sit back and work on breathing and relaxing, and taking a little bit of time to prioritize and say, “what’s important and what’s not important?”
In the long run, at the end of their parenting job, when they’re sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair with their spouse, hopefully, they can look back and remember the things that they did at Christmas, the things that were meaningful, and be glad they did them. And realize in the moment – in the hectic moment – that there’s a lot that we do that’s not going to really be that important, and so to prioritize those things out.
Another thing parents can do is enlist their kids, enlist their kids to help at, you know one of the things to remember about childhood and adulthood, and helping prepare your child for adulthood, is that it’s not about the perfect childhood. It’s about helping that child feel important by giving them tasks to do. One of the things correlates between a successful adult and a childhood is that they did chores, that they contributed.
I know sometimes it’s harder, especially with the younger kids, is it’s easier to do it yourself. But enlist your kids to decorate the tree. Enlist your kids to make dishes that are going to be on the table for Christmas. Enlist your kids to help out, and over time it’ll be worth it and they will get good at it, and they will truly contribute to what needs to be done during special times.And live in the moment! One of the things parents can do is just be present in the moment. Sometimes we’re getting so busy, and there are some many tasks to do to get ready for the moment, the Christmas moment, that we’re not living in the moment that we have the whole season. So, to stop and be present.
What happens when we are not present is that we day dream. We can drive all the way to the mall and we don’t remember the drive. That‘s not living in the moment. We are actually disassociating from the moment. And, that’s not living. And it’s not good for our mind. It makes us more tired than we need to be.
So, living in the moment appreciating the good and the lights that we see along the way, the Christmas music, maybe the sweet talk from the back seat – or the fighting – whatever is happening, just live in it, be present.
So, peace on earth – make it happen in your house.
Diane Moore is a certified family life counselor and parent mentor with a private practice in Vancouver. Her radio talk show, Parent Talk, is heard in Vancouver, Portland and Boise.
Audio captured and edited by Ed Stortro
Audio transcription by Ed Stortro