Surviving the Holidays: Parent Edition

Surviving the Holidays: Parent Edition

 

Welcome parents!

This holiday survival guide is specifically for you, as the stressors you experience are unique. You not only are trying to take care of yourself during this time, but of all the children and extended family who are home for the holidays. So before we begin, let us take a moment to breathe. Deep inhale in, long exhale out.

Reality is, with how much stress some parents feel, moments like that are too rare.

As we dive into this blog post, I want to provide a framework for how to view this season. To start with:

You are not powerless.

So often, we assume that the holidays = stress and that this stress is just something that will take over the holidays like normal.

False.

You were not designed to be overcome by stress every holiday season. You have been placed in a position of leadership and counsel. Stress cannot overcome you if you do not allow it, because you are not powerless.

We also have to pair this knowledge with the fact that we cannot control others

So if that one family member decides to start their usual drama and you find yourself in the bathroom wondering how you will get through the following weeks, remember this:

You don’t have to attend every fight you are invited to.

If they choose to start up their own emotional rollercoaster in the living room, you don’t have to get on. They don’t get to have that kind of power. 

This is a great time to then practice the deep breathing (longer exhale) and take a moment to slow down. This time of slowing down gives your brain a moment to think about how you would like to respond in a way that represents your character and integrity. How to say what you want to say wrapped in love, while also setting a firm boundary that you are willing to protect.

Now that we have the framework set, let’s dive in to three main guideposts for this season. Remember, the goal is to thrive, not just survive.

 

Guidepost 1: You are a human being, not human doing.

Yes, it’s kind of cheesy, I know, but it’s so true. I forget where I first heard it from but it gave me pause when I heard it. I was shocked how much of my life actually fit the “human doing” phrase better. 

At Phenix, we are reading a book called Soul Custody this holiday season. The author, Stephen Smith says this on page 18, “The Chinese have two characteristics for the English word ‘busyness’, which they define as ‘heart annihilation’.” The Chinese definitely have a different perspective on busyness than the American culture does. However, I think they have a point. When we are overly busy, we miss so much.

So here is the challenge question: is your holiday season too busy?

If you notice that it is, what can you adjust or change entirely?

 

Guidepost 2: Take care of yourself

Part of the role of parenting is caring for others. However, in order to rebuild, you also have to take care of you. This looks different for everyone, but it has to be incorporated at some point. If not, our bodies usually take over and we are forced to rest. 

In the same book as mentioned before, Stephen discusses how “the word ‘care’ has its roots in a Latin word that means ‘cure’.” (p. 17)

If we listen to that connection, then caring for our souls becomes a necessity.

This time of caring for yourself has to be intentional, especially as a parent. What would it look like to incorporate small things that bring you joy throughout the day? (yes, cookies count) What would it look like to intentionally do something that makes you smile?

This doesn’t have to mean bubble baths and face masks, as mainstream media typically depicts self care. 

No, soul care is different. 

Soul care is realizing you are more than just a body that is expected to perform. You are a person, someone with worth and value. Someone with dreams and goals. 

Soul care is realizing that living a life where you feel depleted all of the time is absolutely miserable, and you don’t have to live like that.

My encouragement for you this season is to find time to rest, to regroup. Incorporate things that bring you joy.

 

Guidepost 3: Know you are not alone.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays, please remember this guidepost. 

Some families right now are having their first Christmas without loved ones due to covid or other illnesses. 

Some parents have recently gone through a divorce or separation, and this is their first holiday season without their partner present. 

This season may come with mixed feelings. You don’t have to shove those down or repress them. 

If you feel like they are about to overwhelm you, like the grief is too deep to wade through, remember you are not alone. 

Grief, and emotions, are like waves (as our director, Andrea, points out). There will be times that the waves feel like they are swallowing you whole. Other times, they will lap at your ankles. However, the waves do recede. 

When you feel like a big wave is hitting, here are a few things you can do: talk to a friend, journal, draw, or do something with your hands (working on a car, gardening, cleaning) while you process. You are not powerless here. 

Thank you for tuning in to our holiday guideposts!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year.

See you in 2022!

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