The holiday season is in full gear, along with all the other end of the year tasks in details that pull it us adults. How are you? For real? Pause, truly consider how are you holding up right now, parenting through the holidays can up the joy and the stressors to let's consider ways we might be able to be present for the joyful parts.
I'm Megan Skander. And I'm Kate Mullican. And this is raising reciprocity where we believe raising children is a form of activism.
Hello, hello, thank you so much for joining us today. We are so happy to have this one episode for you this December, we want to wish you all happy holidays. And we also want to share a few tips on how to get through this joyous but sometimes turbulent time over these next couple of weeks, we have some specific strategies we can share with you that have worked in our own parenting and have also supported parents to help their children have a smooth transition back to school after the winter break, which is always nice for everyone involved. So Kate, can you tell us how this topic today might tie into using our parenting as activism?
Sure thing, here's what I was thinking about. When you consider your family values and how to prioritize them, you know how to use them in your decision making, you're operating from a place of being true to you. And in a world where one can easily get swept up in the current of consumerism and the Instagram perfect images. You can be an activist to stand up for your family values and stay true to them.
I'm working on it feeling the pull in each direction for sure. And trying to be mindful to to be intentional about the decision making, whether it's saying yes to the event, or Yes to the buying of this or that or Yes to taking on the craft project I really want to do but not sure I can actually have the time to do it without sacrificing sleep, you know, all those things that come up this time of year?
Well, that's definitely the first strategy is to look at the calendar and what you have, like your big rocks, as they say like you know that you're going to be with your parents for you know, Christmas Day, or you know that you're going to like have a nice family dinner on Christmas Eve, whatever it might be, whatever holidays you might be celebrating, there's usually some things that you know, for sure, there's no way you're not doing it, they're gonna be happening. But then there's also all those other fun things like the crafts, or going to look at the lights or going to that certain exhibit, or maybe like a neighbor's who invited you over for, you know, dinner, outside cocktails or whatever. I mean, we are still in the pandemic, and we've got a new variant in full swing. So I'm sure that that's also impacting, you know, a lot of parents decisions about what they're going to be doing this holiday season. But you know, you also probably have more people in your life in your bubble now than we did a year ago that are vaccinated and you feel safe being around. So I'm guessing that there is a little bit of both, maybe you're doing more than you did last year, but still less than you were previously. But regardless, what we want to encourage you to do is really just be intentional about what you are saying yes to, and thinking about, you know, like your actual schedule. And also like the stress level, like yes, it's fun to go and well, I don't I don't think it's fun to go to the mall. But some people do, you know, to go and do your holiday shopping or whatever. But thinking about the needs of your child and the needs of you and the duties that you have as an adult during this time, Whether it's cooking or shopping or whatever. Like how can you plan the things that have to happen in a way that's as easeful as possible for you and for the rest of the members of your, of your family, which I'm particularly thinking about your child. So you know, they don't need to be involved in everything you do. Even if you decide that you want to do some things, that doesn't mean that every single activity needs to be an all family event. So just being like intentional about that and what things you for sure, want your child to be involved with. And we'll be talking more about how to involve them, but also what things you might want to be doing on your own and then balancing that out with like, yeah, when I go to my parents house, I usually feel pretty stressed out or not whatever it is for you, but what things can you balance. Okay, I know that that's gonna take a lot of my energy to go over there. So maybe the next day, I'm gonna have a nice chill day or whatever.
One of the things that as people who have been spending, you know, years of their lives working with little kids, we'd like to make sure you know that maintaining their routine and schedule as much as possible, specifically around sleep and meal times.
And also even, maybe, to some degree, what's familiar to them for eating, that can be really helpful in keeping their stress signals lowered, which then in turn, you know, helps you enjoy them more when they're not wigging out, right. So taking a look at that, as you consider your plans for the holidays can be really important.
Maintaining the routines as much as possible is probably if you only take one thing away from this podcast, I think that that's the thing that will support your child the most, if you are traveling, you can still maintain your bedtime routine, you know, if you always do a book and a bath, or whatever, before bedtime, even if you're in a different time zone, you can maintain as much of your routine as possible. And the more you do that, the more useful that transition will be when it's time to come back to school. And that includes like getting dressed in the morning, like doing those kinds of routines to you know, if you spend the next two weeks in your pajamas, as we often do, then you can anticipate that there might be some push back when it's time to go through that morning routine to come back to school as far as like getting dressed and getting out the door. So as much as you can keep those kind of just like day in day out familiar routines that you have during the you know, your school year. And that kind of rhythm over the break, the easier it will be to get back into that rhythm once the holiday break is over.
I'm thinking about the pluses and minuses of that feeling of anticipation. And as adults, we have a lot of context to understand that, you know, anticipation can be a real motivator, you're looking forward to something you can use it as the carrot because you're getting through the stuff that are maybe you know, the to do list kind of items, right? And the minuses can be the anxiety that comes with all the what ifs of that anticipation. What if it doesn't go well? Or what if I don't get it done, or what if somebody gets sick, etc. And your children, even young ones, are capable of feeling anticipation, they just don't have a broad picture to, like I said, keep perspective on it. So that is where I'm thinking about ways that you can work towards preparing them before an event. And maybe over the break, you create a picture calendar, you know, these are the days where we're going to be doing this or that and you highlight one or two things, this is the day we're going to see these people, the special people in your life, the grandparents, whatnot. These are the this is the day where we're gonna head out to visit, you know, the zoo lights or whatever it is that you do to celebrate, you know, maybe you do include this is a day where we're going to have a pajama day, the entire day. It's not like that's wrong. It's just the idea of keeping them in the loop.
So that when you do reintroduce the routines. They're, they're prepared and expecting it. On top of maintaining their routines. The second biggest strategy is preparing them like what are they going to like? What can they expect? So if you're going to your to the grandparents house for dinner, I mean, as much as you can share about what to kind of anticipate like, Okay, we're going to arrive, these people are going to be there, this is what we're going to eat. Maybe there'll be a gift exchange, even doing some grace and courtesy around you know, when you're when someone gives you a gift, then you can look at them and say thank you, or maybe you want to open it and then look at them and say thank you so much for thinking of me. I did that with my children after one year. You know, they just like didn't really know what to expect. And so they tore through their gifts and it was just like, not a lot of appreciation was going on it was somewhat embarrassing. So you know that then we just said, you know, when someone gives you something, you can open it. Read the card first. Always look at the card, see who it's from. Look at the person say thank you so much for thinking of me open the gift, look at them and say thank you then later we'll write a thank you card, these kinds of things. And they picked up on that right away as they usually do. If you liked us, we'll take the time to kind of walk them through those moments beforehand and tell them what to expect and what the appropriate way to respond is and, So also talking about, maybe there might be some COVID stuff going on, you know, if there's people there like, we will be wearing our masks the whole time, we'll be outside the whole time. So we want to bring extra clothes, you know, all of the details that you can share beforehand is really important. And then I'll also always including that, you know, there also has to be flexibility because things might change. And we've certainly learned that through COVID, you know, as we get more information, then we might change what we're going to do. But right now, our plan is that we're going to go to grandma's, it's only going to be grandma and grandpa, we're going to have dinner together, we're going to exchange presence, we're going to sleep over, and then we get to wake up there, you know, every little detail that you can offer is just going to help your child be successful.
Yeah, I'm also thinking about my because I'm living with a elementary aged and a middle schooler right now, some of the conversations that have been happening at our house around what to expect have been around the fact that they are of an age where some mixed emotions might enter into their experience of the holidays. So that kind of sticky feeling of jealousy, they both have had some expressions of that. And so we've been discussing what what that looks like how that presents itself to them. And then if they feel that creeping up, what are their strategies. And so having some of those discussions ahead of time, I, I'm hoping we'll see how this plays out. But I'm hoping it's going to mean that in terms of the things you were just talking about, around expressions of gratitude for people being, you know, being thoughtful about them and wanting to show love through exchanges of gift giving or gestures to include them in an outing or a book or storytelling or whatever. And how, how can they handle that when inside They might be having some mixed emotions because cousin got something that they are starting to feel envy over or, you know, or friend or big sister, Big Brother, whomever, right? And like, How do they manage that? What are some skills they have to balance that? And anyway, I we've also talked about how the external messages around the holidays. So at my house, Christmas is celebrated and have one real fanatic about Christmas music in our house. And so we've been just dissecting some of the lyrics, and the expectations that come with some of those lyrics about how you're supposed to feel so great and happy all the time. And don't you wish it was Christmas every day of the year? And you know, and so it was wonderful. When at one point, my nine year old was like, that would be stupid if it was Christmas every day of the year, because then it doesn't feel special anymore. It's like Yes, right. Exactly. And, you know, there are layers to how one might feel over the holidays.
And it's, it's not all roses, right? And so that's okay.
And, and what are the things you can do to take care of yourself when those those feelings creep up, right. So that that leads me to thinking about modeling your own care, and regulation of your emotions, your needs during the time of the holidays when there's, you know, external pressures to feel a certain way or be a certain way. And holidays can be tricky, can stir up a lot of stuff. So, remember, you're modeling for your kiddo. But first and foremost, you're taking care of yourself. So, you know, maybe we could riff on a couple ideas there. Megan, the first one that came to me is simplifying meals, right? Like, it's okay, if leading up to a bigger meal, celebrate a holiday, like maybe you all are sitting down to eat a bowl of cereal for dinner. That's really okay. It's not that big of a deal, right? Or maybe you're making sure you are getting to bed earlier or you know, on time not pushing yourself so you can model those kinds of things for your children. What comes to mind for you?
It's really great if you can just do that self talk out loud. So if you can say, Yes, we're going to be going to grandma and grandpa's later and that's gonna take a lot of energy and I might sample a little bit later than usual. So I'm going to, you know, take a nap before we go. Or, or I'm going to make sure that we don't have anything on the schedule tomorrow so that you have time to relax after a big day. Or if you're talking about you know, the big meal, how you're going to balance that kind of You know, healthy food, with overindulgence of whatever the special things are like, I love the cheesy potatoes, but I'm just gonna have one scoop. So I can save room for dessert. And then I get to pick between a cookie and pie or whatever it is, you know, just the anything that you're doing. Like that you're consciously aware of like, this is how I'm taking care of myself and helping me get through this kind of, you know, different time, if you can just say it out loud, even if it's not a direct conversation, but just like, This is what I'm doing to take care of myself, then that's just such good modeling. And they're picking up on all of that.
Yeah, for sure.
The last thing I was thinking on is the spirit of giving, and how, what ideas come to mind about how you involve your kids with that?
Well, I think that there, you know, there's so much commercialization around the holiday. And then that is always going to be reflected in your home through your values. So maybe you really want to make sure that you're buying locally, or that you're really thoughtful about the gifts that you're giving. But then also, taking time to brainstorm with your child like, yes, giving gifts is one way that we can show people that we care about them. But there are lots of other ways. What are some other things that we can do, to show people that we care about them, and having them really be involved in that thinking, and then also thinking about, if you are lucky, and I hope that everyone has things that they can be grateful for, you know, just sharing those things with your child. You know, we're so lucky that we have this home and we have, you know, warm beds to sleep in and we have food on the table. And there are people that don't have those things, what could we do to help some people that are not as lucky as us right now in their lives, and really thinking for like more of a charitable donation perspective.
Doing that with your children can be really powerful, too. I know that that has been for us over the years, the stuff you're bringing up brings to mind how, even with the youngest children, you can be laying the groundwork to discuss how are the multiple ways that we can show love to one another, and also then moving towards a discussion around how do the people that you know, like to receive love, know, for some people, gift exchanges, you know, really valuable to them expression of love. But it's not the only thing I mean, having somebody step in to help set the table or make any other kind of gesture that, you know, eases the burden from somebody else's plate might be one of the grandest expressions of love or care. So opening up that, because that's, that becomes a great conversation or a great thing to be thinking about in long term relationships, right? And, and so you're just planting seeds with these little guys, right, and helping them work through some of these concepts that in an age appropriate way for them.
Yeah, I really like the idea of involving the children in the spirit of giving, that doesn't necessarily mean giving a gift that you bought from Target or whatever it could be, you know, giving a picture or giving cookies that you baked or giving a hug. You know what, there's so many ways to give your affection and love and appreciation to people. And so having that be really the center of the spirits during this time, I think is really powerful. And involving your child through that thought process. And like ways to, you know, help, like you said, set the table or help make the cookies that you're going to give to your neighbor or whatever, I think really can have a lasting impact and does leave that kind of fond memory of this time. It doesn't need to be the stressful like machine have buy, buy, buy, go to the mall, all these things. I mean, it certainly it can have that element if you enjoy that. But I think that there's so much more to be gained if you're just focused on you know, like, how can we help people? How can we show people how much we love them. Think about all the people that you have in your life that you do love and appreciate? You know, what are simple things that we can do to share that love, you know, all the time, but especially right now.
Yeah. So in closing, a thought I'm having is around use of a grounding word for example. So for me, what's been coming up is the word pause. So between transitions, so for example, leaving work but reuniting with my children, or before I make that phone call or whatever, you know, whatever it is just like pause, take a breath kind of check in with myself. So that word pause for example, has been coming up for me. December for a variety of reasons is felt kind of heavy. And so that is keeping me more rooted or grounded in you know how I want to be how I want to be showing up for others and myself in this in today in this moment. So maybe that helps you to find a word to kind of help move you through the next couple weeks and enter into the new year as you reflect on 21. And you start to make plans for 22.
Yes, thank you so much for joining us, we hope that we were able to share some tips to help just have a really lovely and enjoyable holiday break this winter. And you know, seasonally is a time of just kind of slowing down and being a little dormant, you know, so do that as much as you can. Thanks you all see you in the new year.
We hope that you can have a great holiday season with people that you love.
It's time for you to hit the subscribe button and we want to thank you for listening. Be a fan