Are you already feeling the stress building up as you think about everything you have to do, organize, and manage during the coming month?
Well, that’s not a fun way to start Christmas, let’s see what can be done…
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If you are anything like me, a home-schooling mom, your mind might sound a bit like this at the moment: “It is the 1st of December! Here starts the Christmas marathon!” No matter how much you’ve prepared for Christmas, you end up with to-do lists in every corner of your house, and your brain is smoking from dawn to night.
It looks like a rather small list, but as a mother, you know that every one of these bullet-points will take time, energy, and money.
The presents? If your husband is a little bit like mine you won’t get any help here. So here I am looking for a nice, meaningful, not overly-expensive present for everyone. And because I don’t want to buy last-minute crap I take time to reflect, to order, to visit local boutiques,…
The party? Nobody (but us and our mothers) realize how much work it is to prepare the Christmas meal and party. Between choosing the menu, going to buy the groceries, cooking everything in time (and going back to the grocery store because we forgot the mayonnaise), making sure the table is nicely set and the decorations are in place (who planned the Christmas tree excursion?), It is a lot of work!
Homeschooling? Oh yes, that too! The end of the year is close and it’s time for an annual review. There are always things we’re not satisfied with, things we absolutely wanted to do but now there is no more time because your mind (and a good part of your time) is fixated on Christmas.
And else? Life is going on… Chicken still needs to be fed, the kids still have dentist appointments or sports practice. In the middle of your already busy life, you still have to find time to go shopping, to call the family you won’t be able to see, to go get the decorations in the basement, to plan some nice holiday activities for the kids, to cook every meal and clean the house as usual (where are the cleaning fairies?).
Just reading this made you tired and disheartened?
It’s ok. Because this year, you will not fall into the Cinderella syndrome of doing it all and pitying yourself about it. Self-pity, stress, anger, or discouragement are not feelings you want to have during Christmas time, so how to prevent it?
I hear my friends telling me that they’re already stressed about Christmas. And just yesterday, I caught myself doing some negative self-talk like “I’m not gonna find the right presents in time! What if the kids are disappointed because the COVID-19 makes it impossible to gather? What about my grandpa? This year, I’ll cook something simple, too bad for those who are unhappy!”. All this negativity when the world is selling love, peace, family, and hope? Mothers, we need to align with the mood, and in order to do so, I propose this first step: This one isn’t actually about your children autonomy but you’ll need it to go along with the others
Self-love is a dynamic process, it grows through actions. I can bet that you are a compassionate person, but do you extend that compassion toward yourself? If you want to develop your children’s autonomy, you need to understand why you do it, and how autonomy isn’t about you being less, but about them being more.
A lot of mothers have self-love issues and you can see it in their daily life. They overwork themselves, they think they never do enough, they try to do more and more to prove their worth. This is not the way. By doing so, you teach your children to do so. You teach them that love is about sacrifice and pain.
So before we can work on the 5 ways to make the best of your child’s autonomy during Christmas, let’s tackle that self-love issue.
How do you feel when you read those sentences? They are meant to be said by you every morning until Christmas. Does it sound easy? Silly? Difficult?
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There are different aspects of self-love. Our thoughts, for instance, and their paths: Do you talk negatively about yourself? To others or just to you? Do you have intrusive thoughts? Why? How do you react to these emotions?
Another aspect of self-love is your self-worth. We live in quite a negative world and it reflects on the way we see ourselves. We see limitations, failures, and mistakes. But how do you feel if I tell you that you were born with an infinite potential? Do you believe in yourself? Self-esteem is a result of self-worth, so if you have issues with this one, ask yourself if you think that you are valuable, no matter your flaws and weaknesses?
And the last aspect of self-love is…. self-care! Self-care is about keeping ourselves healthy, about respecting our body, our pace, our needs.
You can ask yourself, in any situation, what would my best friend do for me right now? And then you can do it for yourself!
5 Ways To Make The Best Of Your Child’s Autonomy During Christmas
Now that your self-love, self-respect, self-worth, and self-care are on the way, you can start to breathe and look for solutions and upgrades. There is maybe one more thing I’d like to check. If I say: your children can help much more. What is the first thing that comes to your mind?
- They are not able
- It is not their job.
- They will make a mess of it.
- I am more efficient.
- This is my duty/role.
- They have better things to do.
All those are limiting beliefs. Things you tell yourself that keep you from reaching your goals and actually live in harmony in your home. Limiting beliefs keep you stuck. Now is the time to move forward and, for once, have a (more) relaxed Christmas. Let’s see how you can make the best of your child’s autonomy during Christmas.
1| Get clear on boundaries
You have enough on your plate as it is already, lets not add having to discipline the children to the mix! Moreover, the Christmas season is definitely emotional, with stress, fear, nostalgia, and expectations each piling up. Your nerves, as a mom, will be pumped up and you might react to everything and anything. This makes it confusing for the children and exhausting for yourself (sounds like something you’ve experienced already? I know I did).
The best strategy to avoid all those fights is to take a moment while you’re still human (and not yet the Christmas tyrant you’re about to become) to make things clear: Boundaries are important to children, they make them feel secure. And secure children don’t get into crazy emotional peaks.
Try and imagine. You’re going to spend the holiday at some friends’ place. They invited you and you’re delighted to go skiing/to the beach. The thing is, there are no rules at all in that house. How will you feel, not knowing what is acceptable or not? Where and when you should sleep? When are the meals and who cooks them? What are the activities and how you get there? Not the best holiday. We need landmarks to operate. Children do too.
Organize a meeting with your children and your husband and get clear on the boundaries for the holiday and for Christmas preparations. Your children will then have the opportunity to know how to behave and what to do. They will be autonomous about the rules and will feel good about it.
2 | Let go of what can be
You have too much on your plate already. The logical question is “what can you let go of?”. BUT, I don’t want you to choose anything related to you. You’re not to give up on me-time, on yoga practice, on visiting friends, or anything. I want you to think of the little thing you do for your children that they could do without you.
I know that sometimes it is hard to see our children grow up, that it is hard to feel that they don’t need us as much as before. But it is not true, they will need you forever, just not for the same things, in the same way. They may not need you to dress them to go playing in the snow, or to look over while they brush their teeth, but they will always need you as a role model.
Why not make them proud and grow their self-confidence (and therefore their self-esteem) by letting them do what they are able to do? Some much off your plate AND you are doing a service to your children.
Observe yourself for a couple of days and write down all the things you do that they don’t really need help for. Then you can explain to them how you trust them, how you realize they are capable, and how you’re going to let them do their stuff like the smart kids they are.
3 | Stop deciding on everything
In the past years, we’ve heard a lot about the mental load of the mother. But to be honest, we are a guilty of that too. How much do you take on that you wouldn’t have to? One very good example is decision-making. It is said that an adult makes an average of 35’000 decisions every day. Some are conscious, some semi-conscious, and some unconscious. But now imagine, as a mother with 3 children, what is your number of decisions?
We have more experience, more knowledge, and more hindsight than our children, hence, we think that we make better decisions. But children need to learn to make decisions. And the more opportunities they get, the better they’ll get at it. I love that my children make their own decisions, like the clothes they’re going to wear, the snack they will eat, the game they will play. And, because we have clear boundaries, their decisions help them grow up without breaching our rules and values.
Next time your child asks you a question, instead of deciding for them, ask them and see where it goes. Imagine, how heavenly it will be when you won’t be interrupted every 5 minutes for meaningless things?
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4 | Delegate some tasks
I know that you want to be the best mom there is, but being the best mom doesn’t mean being the perfect mom. Children often have fun helping out, and if they don’t, you’ll hear it. Some tasks, children should help with all year round and your family might already have a chores table in place.
But this is a special time, and as you have more work and more responsibilities, so can your children. Of course, if you are a control freak it will be harder for you. Maybe the decorations won’t be as nice as those perfect Instagram pics and maybe the cookies will look more oval than round. But think of the joy, the enthusiasm, and the love that was poured into those activities, doesn’t it make up for it?
Get over your to-do list with your kids if they are old enough (let’s say from 5 yo onward) and discuss together what they can do to help.
One more thing, teach your children to finish their tasks in their entirety. If they bake cookies, that also means preparing everything AND cleaning afterward. Sometimes I give them a short break between the activity in itself and the cleaning for them to vent.
5 | Differentiate between desires and needs
During Christmas time, there are a lot of ads on TV for toys, sweets, festive meals, amazing activities,… Well, you know, good ol’ consumerism. Children don’t have the distance to understand what marketing is and how it works. And even when they do, the emotional power of ads can take over (as it may for us).
Christmas is also a time when grand-parents say more often “let them be”, “it’s Christmas”, “sure you can have one more cookie”, “why no hot cocoa before dinner”. In short, anything is permitted, and children are quick to follow that path. But trying to keep your children on track and having to say no to a thousand things (from a pound of marshmallows to a Nintendo Switch) is demanding.
Why not take this chance to help your children make the differentiate between what they need and what they desire? The trick is, children might feel a need, but offer a desire as a solution. Let’s say your son is hungry, this is the need, but eating cookies is a desire.
Our children know what they need when they need it, our job is to help them express this need and to help them find a solution to satisfy it. A great way to do so is to do it for ourselves, as mothers. Do you listen to your own needs? Do you rest when you are tired? Do you go somewhere quiet when the noise is too much? Do you eat when you’re hungry? And the last one, especially for busy moms: do you go to the toilet when you need to pee?
Christmas should be about love and hope (and hot cocoa)
I’m sure that you dream of the perfect Christmas, but what is your role in this movie? Are you the crazy mom, running, cooking, fixing, yelling, organizing? Or are you the loving mom, trusting, taking time, sharing, and enjoying?
I spoke about self-pity at the beginning of this post, because I don’t like it. But, I understand it. When you feel cornered, exhausted, and out of energy, it is easy to fall into self-pity. But you have children, and they are not a burden, they are loving, helpful, and resourceful.
It’s all about the way you want to look at them.
Thanks for reading this article! As always, I hope it gave you some line of thoughts to explore as well as ideas to act and create a positive change in your life.
Don’t let the inspiration fades and take action right away:
I wish you all the best with your kids, always remember that we all do the best we can at a given moment and don’t judge yourself harshly. Be confident and listen to your intuition. If what you do comes from a place of love, then you’re on the right path.
See you next week for another exciting article!
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