Twelve Tips For The Holidays

 

1. First and foremost, take care of yourself.
 

Did I say first? YES! When we need to cut corners, the first thing to go is our own self-care. But taking care of yourself needs to be at the top of your list. Get enough sleep. Eat well, and on time. Sip water throughout the day. Stay active. Take a moment every so often to breathe.


 
2. Sort out what matters most – and what doesn’t – in your holiday season.
 

Chances are there are some things you do every year that you don’t need to or even really want to be doing. Throw those out the window! These can be little things or big things. Your choice! You can only do so much, so save your time and energy for the things that are really important to you.


 
3. Decide what your “keepers” are for this holiday season.
 

Look inward and decide what kind of holiday is just right for your family. Talk it over with your spouse or partner. What are the most important things to you and your family this holiday season? There are no right or wrong answers here! Choose the things that are the most meaningful to you and your family, and focus on those.


 
4. Be imperfect! And love it!
 

We all know we’re not perfect. But we often spend valuable mental and emotional energy wishing we could do things better. This is especially true around the holidays, when we’re bombarded with images of the model family, the ideal kids, the perfect dinner, the museum-quality home decor. We hold ourselves to impossibly high standards. Take the pressure off yourself. What if you were to actually celebrate what you formerly saw as your shortcomings? The imperfect parts of your holiday may become some of your best memories.


 
5. Give a gift to yourself.
 

This doesn’t have to cost a thing. How about giving yourself a gift certificate? Something like: this certificate entitles the bearer to a nice warm bath. Or a cup of coffee with a friend. An uninterrupted half-hour to devote to your hobby. A night off from household chores. A walk in a nearby park. A book from the library to read – for fun. Whatever gift(s) you give yourself, no guilt allowed! Enjoy your gift to yourself fully, knowing that you work hard, and you deserve it.


 
6. Spend special time with your child.
 

At first I had this listed as a “gift to yourself” in #4. And special time with your child is a gift to yourself. But it deserves its own category. It’s one of the most precious parts of any holiday. Yet parents have told me that sometimes a holiday goes by so fast, they don’t feel like they have time to really connect with their kids. Or that they never seem to get a chance to share the true meaning of the holiday with their kids. Or that they’re so busy trying to keep their kids busy and behaving, that they’ve got little energy left for much else. Try this: choose in advance a particular time during the day when you and your child will spend some special time together. Then stick to it, like an important appointment. Doing what? Anything you and your child like to do together! You can leave it up to your child (giving some choices might help). It doesn’t even have to be holiday-related. By consciously setting aside a piece of the day that you can purely enjoy with your kids, you’ll be making space for meaningful holiday moments and cherished memories that will last a lifetime.


 
 7. Choose one tradition per holiday that brings your family together for a moment of joy, reflection, fun, relaxation, or just plain silliness.
 

Traditions are important – whether passed down through the generations, or started by your own family. A holiday can be so jam-packed with activity that the whole day can whiz by with no time to slow down. Make room in your day for ONE tradition that lets you simply enjoy each other’s company for a time – in a way that’s uninterrupted and just right for your family. Only one tradition?20you ask. Trying to keep too many traditions can make you frazzled and exhausted by the end of the holiday season. So focus on ONE to start with, that you’ll do no matter what, that you can enjoy deeply and fully. You can always add more traditions, either this year or in coming years, when time permits.


 
8. Get help.
 

Delegate as much as you can this holiday season. Ask yourself two questions: - WHAT tasks can you delegate? - WHO can you delegate the tasks to? Once you get going on this, you’ll amaze yourself with how creative you can get at getting help! You’ll also be pleasantly surprised at how delegating even the smallest errand, task, or responsibility can give you a big boost in your time and energy. Tip: don’t hesitate to ask for help from people. A worry I often hear is, “but they all have their own things to do, I don’t want to impose.” Try asking anyway. 99% of the time, people are glad you asked! And you’ll be glad too!


 
9. Nevermind what other people think.
 

The holidays are full of moments when we wonder what other people must be thinking, whether we’re out in public or with friends or even family. Parents of children with special needs report that this is one of the hardest things they have to deal with. I encourage you to let go of what other people think. As a parent, your choices are yours and you make them for a reaso n. You and your family are who you are. No explanations necessary.


 
10. Take little time-outs when you can.


If you can get a morning to yourself, an afternoon on your own, or a night out, go for it! But it’s hard for many parents of children with special needs to get big chunks of free time. So take little mini-breaks when you can, even when you have enough on your to-do list to keep busy every second of every day. How you spend these moments is totally up to you. You may have worked hard all day and want to spend a little time playing with your kids. Or you may have spent the entire day with the kids and need a few moments of solitude. Taking little breaks isn’t just a luxury – it’s a necessity.


 
11. Try something new.


Studies show that when people are in the habit of trying something new every so often, they feel better mentally, physically, and emotionally. Why not try something new this holiday season? Keep it simple. A new flavor of tea? A different outdoor game after the big dinner? I could go on, but I’ll let you come up with your own ways to put a little of the zing of something new into your holiday this year.


 
12. Be present.


The more special the day, the more it tends to go by in a flash. Slow it down a little, savor it, cherish it. Now and then, take a moment to stop and really look at and listen to whomever and whatever is around you. Take the day off mentally and emotionally. Give yourself the permission and the freedom to truly enjoy the special moments of the day.


 

Warm wishes for balance, harmony, and joy for you and your family this holiday season!