Keeping a Content Heart When All Around You Lose Their Minds
Christmas is coming. It’s practically here. And everyone is losing their minds. Can’t you feel it? Or are you one of those who is losing your mind?
I felt a bit of it coming on last night… The checklist of things I probably should buy, accomplish, or go see so that I can Rock. This. Christmas.
Whoa. Really? Where does that come from? Oh, wait, I saw a commercial telling me to “rock this Christmas” and a sign in Wal-Mart saying the same thing. I don’t remember it being this way when I was a kid in the 80’s. Of course, if there was anything my parents excelled at, it was keeping it simple and not going crazy like the rest of the world. It was probably out there, and I was blissfully unaware.
I’m going for that with my kids. We don’t go crazy around here. (We can’t afford to, for one thing!) But they are still aware of holiday blitz commercials, the mesmerizing displays in stores, and all the responsible adults (who seem to have nothing better to say) asking my kids what they want from Santa this Christmas.
So, I feel the pressure to “do” the holidays right… My kids feel the pull of presents and more presents…
How do you keep a content heart—and encourage it in your kids!—when all around you are losing their minds?
We are celebrating the Prince of Peace, after all.
There are many practical and encouraging ideas to answer this problem. Mine is not an exhaustive list (you’re welcome for not exhausting you), but here are 5 things we are doing in our home to create a peaceful holiday and foster content hearts:
1. Keep a modicum of routine.
I tried a couple of lazy days in our jammies already this holiday season, and attitudes have quickly gone down the tubes. As much as I crave a day when I don’t have to put out the energy to make my kids do things (and as much as they think they want that)—they still need structure. My kids just do.
So, we are still eating breakfast by 8, getting dressed, doing chores, and having a quiet reading time. I am still reading the Bible to them at lunch. (We are plugging through the epic accounts in Genesis…they are lovin’ it!)
Even if the rest of the day is lazy, their hearts and minds are put in order by this routine. And they feel secure. That may sound weird, but I have a couple who struggle with anxiety, partly about not knowing what’s going to happen. If they know for certain how their day will begin, I can usually throw in something unusual or surprising and not have it rock their peaceful minds.
So, we keep a minimal but consistent morning routine. Then part of my routine is to make sure we mix in some of the rest of this list.
2. Sing Christmas hymns together.
Hymns are a solid part of our homeschool routine anyway. (There may be a post about that in my future…) So we are blending in some of my favorite goodness from the Christmas section of the hymnal. Sometimes just our voices, but most days I sit at the piano and we get old-timey!
I’d like to point out that my kids think hymns are awesome. Unfortunately, they have not been soaked in hymns as my generation was. The upside? They think hymns are new and interesting! Of course, my enthusiasm helps.
My 10-year-old brought me a Christmas wish list of 5 things early in the season. It was small, humble requests, which surprised me. Then the last thing was “wonderful memories.” We have had several hard Christmases in her life, and plenty of stressful memories in general. She just wanted a Christmas full of wonderful memories. I determined to give it to her. Singing Christmas hymns together has been her favorite memory-maker so far this year.
3. Limit big events.
I have intense kiddos. Anxiety. Obsessive perfectionism. Sensory processing disorder. And simply the need for plenty of sleep at night and calm play during the day, or they get overwhelmed. We have chosen a few simple, affordable things to do along the way this season. Enough to pump some Christmas fun into our holidays, without jumping over the crazy cliff.
We put on our jammies, and drove through a fantastic light display in a park. (I did pay for it a little in attitudes the next day. This is why we limit night outings.)
We rode the boats in Bricktown, our downtown’s man-made canal, lined with Christmas lights. This was our most intense outing. Lots of people. Waiting in line. After bedtimes. Lots of walking. They loved it, but they took about 3 days to recover.
We went to a church Christmas program where their Papa was playing in the orchestra. Again, an evening activity, but one that was important to us. And that was our last one.
These were all at least a week apart, and totally free. With my kids’ personalities, I just have learned to stop before they get overwhelmed, while it’s still fun. End with a laugh and hugs, not a meltdown.
4. Ask thinking questions of your kids.
And have quality conversations about the answers. I mean, questions about why we celebrate Christmas. Why did Jesus have to be a baby if He was God? My eldest and I are talking about sex lately, so I broached the subject of the virgin birth a couple days ago. We are being intentional and natural about discussing the real meaning of Christmas.
Remember when I talked about those adults who keep asking my kids about Santa? My kids usually look at them like they’re crazy. Because while we are ok with the pretend that is the Santa game, my kids know it’s a pretend, and who Saint Nicholas really was. (My 5 and 7 year old told the dentist yesterday that Santa was dead. She was horrified, so I had to explain that they were talking about the real guy who lived over 1500 years ago.)
Intentional conversation about what really matters and what’s really true. That’s important to my family.
5. Make Christmasy things.
My dining room table is always a gathering place for creativity and togetherness. This season has been no different. I am not crafty at all, so I’ve grabbed a few ideas (just a few…remember we’re not going crazy) from Pinterest when my own brain failed me.
We’ve used construction paper to make Christmas trees, wreaths, snowmen, etc.
I cooked up some glitter play dough. We concocted some “snow slime.” That was the biggest hit so far with a resounding chorus of “You’re the best mommy ever!!”
We bake gingerbread cookies around here. And we have done the classic cookie-cutter sugar cookies. We are having a peaceful spatula-licking, paper-gluing, slime-squishing Christmas! Making wonderful memories…
So, there’s mine. What are some of your favorite ways to create a peaceful holiday in your home? Comment below!
May you keep a content heart this Christmas,