The month of December is full of excitement, magic but also stress.
This year the Covid adds extra stress. Not being able to get together as a family affects the whole family. However, I want to invite you to look at it differently. Think of it as an experience of living this Christmas season in a new way; more quietly and intimately, without having to juggle meeting different members of the family; without the crowds in the Christmas markets; without so many activities; by being creative about how to celebrate Christmas between loved ones but from a distance.
To help you have a smooth Covid Christmas, here are some ideas and tips:
Create moments with your children that you can recreate every year at Christmas and that will remain in their memory for years to come.
Listen to Christmas music
Watch Christmas movies
A walk on Christmas Day
Cook or bake with them
Spend some time around a fire with hot chocolate.
Make a family list of the different things everyone would like to do during the Christmas holidays and make them as you go along. Often you will be pleasantly surprised by children's ideas, as they don't always think about materialistic things.
For relatives at a distance....
Create a small family parcel to send to a relative, with gifts but also with drawings made by your child(ren); handmade gifts; photos; home-made biscuits...
Film your family during the Christmas preparations: cooking; decorating the tree; with a little message from you and your children - a funny souvenir / a quality of this relative / a compliment to your relative.
Invite grandparents to read a story via videoconference to your children every day during the holidays. It will do them a lot of good too as they can feel very lonely this year.
Moments of full presence
For your children, the most important thing is your presence and not the number of gifts. Being completely present (without distractors such as mobile phones) with them for 10 minutes (or more) a day, fulfils their attention bucket and reduces the risk of tantrums and relational tensions.
If you have several children, try to give each of them an individual moment without the other siblings’ interrupting. But don't feel guilty if you can't do this every day because it depends on your personal situation.
Gestures of gratitude and kindness
Teaching your children to be grateful and kind not only does good to others but also to your children and according to scientific studies, the benefits last for a long time.
Here are some ideas to inspire you:
During a mealtime, share what you appreciate about each other or something positive from the day (ex: dad's smile; how well the children played together that day; the fun you had playing with your child).
Encourage all the family to leave small messages or drawings in different places in the house with the name of the family member it is meant for.
Ask your children to sort out toys that they no longer play with to give to an association for disadvantaged children or to paediatric units in hospitals (if they accept with Covid measurements).
Propose to your children to make greeting cards or crafts/drawings for residents in old people’s homes.
Fill bags with food to offer to homeless people via an association.
Taking care of YOU
One of the most important things to ensure a peaceful family atmosphere is to take care of yourself in order to be able to better take care of your child(ren).
If possible, give yourself a little time every day (it doesn't have to be long; it can be as little as 15-20 minutes) to do what you enjoy and relax (a walk, sport, a bath, listen to or play music, reading...).
This is not easy to do, especially with young children, but if you are 2 parents, you can take turns looking after the children. If you are a single parent, ask around if someone can take care of your little one(s) whilst you take this time for you.
Not only will this allow you to recharge your batteries, but you will pass on this feeling of well-being to your children, which will impact their behaviour in a positive way with fewer tantrums and less frustration.
This year, THANKS to Covid, you can have a less busy holiday and really enjoy a more relaxed Christmas.
If you tend to set the bar high for the holiday season, try to reduce it and just enjoy it even if everything is not as you had hoped. The most important thing is to be able to share moments with your family.