Then, we collapse.
I call this the “post-holiday blues.” You’ve probably experienced this to some degree. Some studies show as many as 25 percent of Americans suffer from low-grade to full-blown depression after the holidays.
We set our expectations so high and create so much stress in our lives around the holidays that by the time they’re over, we actually feel depressed—either from un-met expectations or from anxiety and exhaustion.
When it comes to parenting, I believe the best advice is to keep it simple, year-round. Let go of the unrealistic expectations for your family during the holidays. Instead of getting yourself worked up and teed up for a post-holiday funk, consider doing these simple things over the next few weeks. I think you’ll be amazed at how good you feel come January.
Don’t perform for your kids. Enjoy time with them instead.
We want to make our children happy, so we do what we must to make them happy: find the gift they are dying to have. But even as we shop, we know we are fooling ourselves. The exhilaration in our child will last a day or two and then POOF! its gone. Even so, we push ourselves to deliver anyway. We ultimately become performers for our children—deliverers of happiness—and this is too much for us.
What would the holidays be like if we decided to dial back and enjoy our children instead of delivering for them?
Be careful of going to extremes to give your kids a great Christmas, but failing to give them YOU.
Instead of spending a bunch of money we don’t have on gifts our children will like for a couple of days (and won’t remember in a few years), what if we surprised our kids by picking them up from school early and taking them to the park? Or, instead of going shopping for the afternoon, what if you spent time with one of your kids doing something he loves?
The truth is, we can go to all kinds of manic extremes to give our kids everything they want and in the end, fail to give them ourselves. They’ll forget the widgets, gadgets and knick-knacks, but they won’t forget you were there. Shift your thinking this Christmas from being a parent who performs for her child to being a parent who is simply present with her child.
This Christmas, trade being a parent who performs for being a parent who is present.
Skip a party, or three.
Remember, our children would honestly rather have a pleasant and happy mother than lots of cookies, presents, and decorations. Seriously. If you are overspent (in all ways), you will be a miserable person to be around.
So, during this season, skip a party or three. Even if its the one you go to every year. Make only two kinds of Christmas cookies rather than five kinds, or—gasp!—maybe even buy some. Skip a tradition that’s fun but causes you stress (such as Elf on the Shelf). Instead, find new, creative ways for your family to spend time together.
Christmas is the celebration of the gift of all gifts that were given to us. All of the work has been done. Our job is to simply receive it, enjoy it and celebrate it, not make ourselves crazy trying to one-up ourselves. Teaching our children the true spirit of Christmas is the greatest success any of us parents can have during this season.
I get that Christmas will have some stress that goes along with it no matter how much you simplify things. The “weary world” may be rejoicing, but the elves that live in your house have got you whipped into a frenzy! Rather than try to ignore or swat your stress away when it comes, invite God smack into the middle of it. That’s the whole idea of Immanuel anyways, God with us.
Here’s my trick: When I feel stressed, I say “Ya” as I inhale and “weh” as I exhale. Yahweh—one of God’s Hebrew names. Breathe God in and breathe Him out. This is how peace can come in the midst of chaos.
This Christmas, trade in those not-so-Silent Nights for some Heavenly peace.
I promise, if you make an effort to simplify life for you and your family during this season, you won’t feel such a letdown or drop-off when it’s over. Instead, you will feel filled and refreshed. And that’s how a holiday is supposed to make you feel.
Maybe it’s time to trade in those not-so-Silent Nights for some Heavenly peace.