Iím not telling you anything new when I say the holidays are supposed to be fun, a time to connect with family and friends, you might even expect some relaxation. Yet time and again I hear the exact opposite from so many parents.
Instead of enjoying a few days or weeks at home with loved ones, we become stressed out, tired and overwhelmed. Too many gifts, too many commitments and obligations, and too little time toÖ well, breathe! If you arenít dreading the holidays before they start, chances are you are looking forward to them ending well before the big ball drops on New Yearís Eve.
Rest assured, there are plenty of practical ways to gracefully handle Christmas, Hanukkah, and other celebratory winter festivities, particularly when it comes to gifts ó something that sends many of us into a tailspin. Too much stuff tops the list of holiday conundrums. It doesnít matter if our issue is with having too many people to shop for (and possibly not enough resources), to not knowing what to do with all the booty that makes its way into your home after the fact, wanted or not.
Lots of young parents will attest to not being able to cope with the onslaught of toys. Gifts that come with love will fill every nook and cranny of your home if you arenít paying attention. Particularly discerning moms and dads protest that toys are too loud, too flimsy, or just donít fit their taste or parenting style.
One thing I suggest to those parents is to recommend a website they love and tell well-intentioned grandparents, aunts and uncles that little Morgan would love any age-appropriate gift from it they can find ó†that gives room for different budgets as well as offering the giver a sense that they are still personally making the selection. It also makes shipping easier if they are out of town. Other gift ideas may also include experiences such as a trip to the aquarium or Science World, with or without the giver. For out-of-towners perhaps itís an annual pass to the West Coast Railway Heritage Park, lessons for sports or music, or a ski pass.
The other major complaint is being torn in a multitude of directions, trying to attend all the parties, school activities, and making family commitments or hosting them yourself. Not only is this tough on us, it can lead children to a wide range of reactions from simple fatigue to full-on anxiety and ramped-up behaviour.
One thing you might do this year is to use your children as a stress barometer. When you see kids acting out, whether itís increased tantrums from a three-year-old to heightened back talk from a 13-year-old, take your cue. This is them telling you theyíve had too much. Itís time to ease off the gas pedal and be selective. Maybe you donít see Auntie Ellen on Christmas Eve after already visiting Grandma and the cousins. Maybe you donít make that carolling party you were looking forward to.
This year consider some new tactics and set up your family for a successful ó and happy holiday season. If youíre interested in hearing more about how to make this happen, I am offering ďA Simple Christmas,Ē a free workshop on Sat. Dec. 1 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Cedar Valley Waldorf School, 38265 Westway Ave.
To register for A Simple Christmas, or Simplicity Parenting in 2013, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.SeaToSkySimplicityParenting.com. Like Sea to Sky Simplicity Parenting on Facebook for updates and inspiration.