Images are powerful. Today’s mail included my daily Lands’ End catalogue with a cover photo that caught my eye: a mom lovingly sandwiched between her admiring tween daughter and four-year-old son, all three clad in their snuggly PJ’s.
Mom had an eggnog-induced, post-nap afterglow that made me wonder if she wasn’t the kids’ free-spirited Aunt Uma visiting from New Mexico who’d had a little extra something something just before the photo shoot.
I admit it, I want some of that “look” and the feeling of holiday contentment it implies.
So I wonder, is “relaxed Mom” available in a size large with express shipping?
The truth is, what I really want for Christmas more than anything, is knowing that the holidays have been meaningful to my family beyond the gift-giving. I want to feel THAT kind of relaxed (and sure, a little bit of the other stuff wouldn’t be so bad either.)
Lands’ End promises that their pajamas will give you, “the Magical Moments of Christmas Mornings all Winter Long.” That seems like a tall order for a PJ and slipper set.
Instead, I’m going to offer two tips for a more enduring “Mom Glow”, and it won’t cost a dime. One hint pops you into action while the other invites you into presence.
Lisa’s “Holiday Glow” Tip #1: Discuss ‘together time’ with your family
This might sound like you’re adding more activities to your already packed schedule. But fear not. It’s about peeling away obligations and busy-ness to find experiences that are meaningful to your family.
Sometime in the next week pull your family together (e.g., during a car ride when everyone is captive) – and ask these two questions:
“What’s one thing you want to do with the family, during this holiday time?”
“What’s one thing you want to do alone or with friends during this holiday time?
This creates an intention for the time you have together so by the end of the holiday break you’ll feel less like “I don’t know where the time went” and more “Yes!….. that was just the holiday I desired … ! In other words, less frantic and more fulfilled.
I am not suggesting you agree to satisfy everyone’s wishes. But simply asking these questions shows your family you care and are interested in their desires. Even if the trip to Disneyland isn’t in the cards, deciding to go to the park together with hot cocoa and a blanket might be.
That’s a lot of potential activity to anticipate and coordinate, which leads me to my second holiday tip.
Lisa’s “Holiday Glow” Tip #2: Accept your imperfections
If you’re like many parents I know you catch yourself saying “what’s wrong with my kids – what’s wrong with me? My kids aren’t behaving and don’t listen to me.” Parenting is hard AND I know we make it harder on ourselves when we listen to our critical self-talk (about our kids and ourselves).
I’m asking you to do this:
Next time you catch yourself criticizing or comparing, take a step back, watch the berating and be both curious and gentle with yourself. In other words, notice your critical voice, but treat yourself as you would an admired friend, with openness and compassion.
So dear REAL parent, here’s my recipe for a relaxed holiday season:
Tip #1: Talk with your family about together time (beyond the shopping) and write ideas into the family calendar
Tip #2: Be kind to yourself/ Accept your imperfections
…and when in doubt, put on your (old, mismatched) PJs, gather your kids on the couch and hide the to-do list.
Who knows, maybe Aunt Uma will stop by after all.
What’s one thing you want to do with your family in the next few weeks?
What supports you to feel greater acceptance of yourself as a parent?