It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, whether you’ve already decked the halls with boughs of holly or you’ve just decided to sit back and dream of a white Christmas, you know the holidays are quickly approaching. And while some may speak of the twelve days of Christmas, you are aware it is far more than that! You’re overwhelmed with all that has to be done and all the expectations of the season. You may find that you wonder as you wander if there will ever be time for that silent night where you hear angels sing or rest like a merry gentleman! Perhaps you’ll find these 3 Keys To Take The Chaos Out Of Christmas helpful!
Christmas Stress and Holiday Cheer
As parents, we enter the holidays, balancing the demands of the everyday, which usually keeps us busy, as well as additional load of holiday cheer and happenings! It is easy to feel overwhelmed or spread thin. You may very well feel the pressure of gift buying and trying to find that special gift your little cherub has requested, be it a hippopotamus, two front teeth, or a drum like the little drummer boy! You might be feeling a little blue having Christmas without someone you love or just being separated from family for the holidays. Perhaps the holidays cause you to bring family together when the normal tensions keep that from happening, and now you are forced together for holiday celebrations, and the stress increases.
Some of you are just sincerely delighted by the lights, the sounds, the cheer, and every exciting detail of the holiday! This may really be your happiest season of all! And that’s great! No matter where you fall on the spectrum of holiday cheer, I think it is good to enter the season with some reasonable expectations and keys to making the most of your holiday. In this way, you will be able to take the chaos out of Christmas and keep the focus on those things that matter most to you in the special holiday season, enabling you to start enjoying the holiday or simply adding an extra dose to your delight.
I’m Dreaming Of…
Know Your Personality and Emotional Needs to Reduce Overwhelm
Spend some time simply thinking of the things you’d really like to feel, see, and experience during the holidays. Take some time to have some conversations with your child, so you understand the same for them. Use some good questions that will help you hear the themes that come out for your family. Do you value time spent out and about doing special experiences or in the warmth of your home spending time together? Do you like group activities or things on your own? Do you like quiet activities or boisterous fun? There is no right or wrong. Take time to hear what each individual feels and thinks.
Different personalities will look forward to different things, so taking time to understand these differences is key for your family. Your desires weigh in here too, after all, parents who are involved show how to plan and prioritize things that matter to us is an important concept to model for our children. (EX: some may enjoy the large crowd activities, others joining just a few close friends, perhaps just your immediate family, or just something they would really like to do by themselves.) Brainstorm ideas as a family to get a variety of ideas for the things that everyone is dreaming for the Christmas season. Answering some of the discussion starting questions may help you get in the zone!
Tip for those with a highly sensitive or emotionally intense child: Make sure you understand how your child’s personality, sensory processing, and any mental health issues might affect their holiday season. If you aren’t sure, spend some extra 1:1 time together and if they’re able, talk about it. Enter this season with a fresh understanding of how your child is impacted by the change in routine, extra activitiess, and stress. Purpose to do it different this year…with more understanding than ever before.
Make Your List and Check it Twice…
Make A Plan To Manage the Stresses of the Holidays
After you have done some brainstorming, plan a time to have a “Family Holiday Huddle” to make your “game plan,” and talk through the different things you are hoping and desiring, as well as any concerns, worries, or questions. Each person can take time to share their thoughts for the holiday season. Plan those things you will prioritize. Find your focus for the holidays. Sum up the things that mattered to everyone with a key thought or idea that will help you stay on track. Keep your expectations reasonable and doable! As you make the list of things that matter most to each person and the family, take time to schedule these things on the calendar.
Did you know the word ‘joy’ appears 8 times in the Christmas Story? And if we aren’t careful, we will miss out on the joy that God promises us this Christmas.” Rick Warren
It can be all to easy to just talk about it and then proceed through the season just cramming your schedule full of activities, plans, and demands that might not even mean that much to those who are being exhausted in the process! You might be surprised to find that the things that really matter to your kids are far more simple than what you are trying to pull off.
Your child may actually just want a night to drink cocoa and play games or a night to eat popcorn and watch their favorite movie. All to easily, these simple joys can be pushed out by bigger demands or things we think they’d enjoy more. So listen and learn…then plan and proceed! This may be one of the biggest tips to actually taking the chaos out of Christmas.
Tip for those with a highly sensitive or emotionally intense child: Let your child have an active role in making holiday plans. The “unexpected” can be a real trigger for this child. Making them part of the planning allows them to feel seen, heard, and understood. And bonus…they’ll have much better buy in for the plan!
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas…
Keep Holiday Expectations Realistic and Doable
This last key is very important! It will be the thing that helps you put the first two keys to work. The operative words here are merry and little. Why? Because often times we shoot for big and grand and in the process, we lose the fun, love, and enjoyment. So use your plan as your guide. Simplify where you are able.
Use the powerful pause to stop and think before committing. Ask yourself, does adding this to our schedule help us carry out that goal or theme? By adding this to our schedule, are we closer to accomplishing what we had hoped or is this just a busy distraction? Then use the art of the necessary no. We can’t do everything.
This is also where we need to figure out how we can enlist each family member in the tasks of Christmas. Can others help do some of the things that make the holidays a burden or challenge? Can you enlist help from your spouse or children with shopping, wrapping, baking, or decorating? These are some of the easy ways we can incorporate traditions into our family, let the kids be part of the process, and take the chaos out of Christmas.
Tip for those with a highly sensitive or emotionally intense child: Keep your expectations low. It can be easy to look around and feel like you need to keep up with others, however, your intense child needs a different pace. Pay attention to their body budget (what they have in their reserves to cope with things) and always be ready with a Plan B should Plan A be too much for them at the time.
If you are raising a child who is highly sensitive, emotionally intense, or exhibiting challenging behavior, this can be a difficult season to navigate without useful tools or strategies in place. Having a good understanding about your child’s unique wiring and needs will be important to building a holiday plan that is doable and implementing the supports that are necessary.
If you need some clarity on issues that may be impacting your child, be sure to get your complimentary copy of Behind the Behaviors: Understanding A Uniquely Wired Child Guide. This could be a game-changing and even life-changing tool to see your child in a new way. And if you ever needed a little help knowing how to communicate about your child’s issues with family or friends…this is just the thing you need. :)
Taking time to focus on the true reason for the season is what will help us keep the merry in Christmas. It is by giving, serving, and sharing the love of Christ that we can impart to others the true gift.
There are a lot of extras in the season. Don’t let the extras become your focus. Decide from the beginning what you want your holiday season to be, and then be mindful of how you carry that out.
And don’t forget… truly, the best present you can give your child is the gift of your presence.
Extra Holiday Hope and Christmas Cheer
Looking for some extra holiday pep talks or inspiration…check out these recent podcasts that I had the joy of being a part of!
Navigating the Holiday Stress and Overwhelm
Needing some extra encouragement as you navigate the holiday stress and overwhelm? Then you might enjoy this radio interview I did with ChannelMom.org last week. We discuss some WISE ways to move from overwhelmed to overcomer…and stressed to blessed! You’ll want to listen to hear the other “IZE” words that can help you feel some increased hope and decreased stress! Here’s the link to listen to the radio program on the ChannelMom podcast, and while you’re at it, you might want to check out all the neat ways that ChannelMom is supporting moms. If you are looking for a ministry for year-end giving, this is a wonderful non-profit supporting MOMS!
Tune in to this podcast as Anouk and I visit about some of the holiday challenges wtih emotionally intense kids and their unique wiring. You will be enlightened with some helpful tips and insights in understanding your child’s needs, finding support with family and friends, and also taking that much-needed time for self-care! You will find some great resources offered here and also on Anouk’s site. So be sure to go visit and check out her podcast, Parenting the Intensity, and useful resources/printables.
Parenting Your Emotionally Intense Kid More Easily
Self Care for Busy Parents
(A huge shout out to these colleagues supporting and encouraging moms, and thanks for inviting me to your shows!)
Take a deep breath and find a little silence in your night for some self-care!
I hope you have a holly jolly Christmas. In the busyness, don’t forget, the TRUE reason for the season and that this really is the most wonderful time of the year! Now go tell it on the mountain and help spread joy to the world!
P.S. I was going to add this next week, but it fits so perfectly, I just can’t wait! Check out this blog post about the Christmas story through the eyes of Mary. It just might give you a little hope this holiday season if you are struggling with having a holiday that isn’t exactly as you’d dreamed or imagined.