Extending Compassion over the Holidays

 

Christmas is just around the corner, and if you’re like me, you’re probably exhausted. This year, I encourage you treat yourself with care and compassion, and extend that to your children and grandchildren too.

Our hopes for the holidays, can be a mixed blessing. They help us plan what’s important to us, but can also set up unrealistic expectations that both drive us, and discourage us when they don’t happen.

It’s normal to have a mixture of feelings as the Holidays approach

On the one hand, it’s a time to be thankful to God for all He’s done for us, as well as enjoy beautiful decorations, fun with our kids, special moments with family and friends, and good food.

On the other hand, it’s normal it to feel stressed and have painful feelings pop up too. Amidst the joy, there can be stress from preparations and activities, extra financial pressure, and negotiating visits to relatives. You may also experience grief, as you remember the loss of a loved one through death, separation, or divorce.

Treat yourself with compassion

It’s important to be compassionate with yourself about all the extra pressures and activities you’re handling. You are more than the Mom who makes everything happen. You matter too!

Talk to yourself kindly

It’s really helps to talk to yourself as a compassionate friend, “It’s normal for me to feel nervous and stressed as the holidays approach. While there is so much I look forward to, there is also a lot of extra work for me to do to make it all happen. I also have some mixed feelings because of some difficult holidays in the past. I think I’ll be a good friend to myself by not trying to do everything, and not get down on myself when things don’t pan out as planned.

Take care of yourself

It is helpful to have a plan to take care of yourself as you go through the Holidays. Try getting enough sleep (even if you have a lot to do), eat as healthy as you can, take time to move your body (a daily walk), and remove things from your plate that can wait until January or February. Please be kind and compassionate with yourself during the holidays.

What’s important?

Think about what is really important as you approach Christmas and New Year’s. Make sure there are things on your list that are important to you, rather than only focusing on creating good experiences for your family.

Here’s what I ask myself to help me figure out what’s really important to me. Imagine it’s January 5th and you look back on your Holidays and say,” Wow, I’m pretty happy with how things went. I’m so glad that this, this, and this happened. I’m really glad I didn’t try to make this and this happen.”

Following are some questions to consider. Choose well…

~ What type of gatherings do you want to have with family, friends, and co-workers?

~ What type of alone time or rest would you like for yourself?  How can you make this happen?

~ Are there any events you want to be a part of?

~ What type of spiritual moments, traditions or special foods do you want to make happen?

~ How would you like to thank and honor God as you move into the Holidays and the New Year?

~ Would you like to give and serve others during the Holidays?

~ Do you want to cook over the Holidays, or order out? How busy do you want to be with all this?

~ How can you minimize your workload this season?

~ What type of decorating (inside/out) are meaningful to you?

~ What expectations or activities can you drop?

~ Who could you ask help from, or collaborate with? This could include hiring help, trading child care so you can cook, shop and wrap presents, etc.

~ What is the most important thing you can do for yourself as you head into the Holidays?

Share your needs too

Part of being compassionate with yourself includes not falling into the trap of expecting others to know what you want, without sharing your wishes. This results in becoming resentful when your needs aren’t included. When planning for the holidays, make sure you also include some things that matter to you, that don’t depend on the actions of someone else.

Include God

Don’t forget to include and honor God as you go through this season. Think of ways that are meaningful to you to honor Him and include Him throughout the season.

Practice gratitude

Focus on all you are thankful for. It’s easy to focus on what’s not happening, or what went wrong. Look around you and make a list, starting today or all you grateful for. If you look, there’s a ton!

Honor those not able to be with you

If you are missing someone special during the holidays, make sure and do things that keep them with you in some way. Some ideas might be to keep a picture of them nearby, allow yourself to feel sad as well as happy as you remember them, or do activities that they loved to do during the holidays.

Do things as simply as possible

There’s no way for you to do everything you’d like to this Holiday season. Drop things not absolutely necessary, look for ways to take shortcuts rather than do everything yourself. What everyone needs (including you) is a mom who isn’t frazzled, on edge and overwhelmed. This is more important than getting everything done.

The Holidays are stressful for kids too

Our kids get so excited about Holiday traditions, games, food and TOYS! They get worn out and overwhelmed by activities, expectations, sugar and visiting relatives. Everywhere they go they are reminded about the Holidays, and can get caught up with what they want for gifts. All of this stress can cause lots of meltdowns.

Keep this in mind as you plan activities for your children and grandchildren. They are even less able to adapt to changing circumstances and extra stress than we are.

Try to see things from their perspective

Remind yourself how hard it is to be a little one with a changing schedule who isn’t getting enough sleep, doesn’t get all s/he is hoping for, and has a stressed-out parent or grandparent.

Give them lots of empathy

Empathize with how hard things are from their perspective. Your kind words will help them calm down, feel understood, and teach them to be kind to themselves too. Empathetic statements like these will really help:

  • “It’s so hard to have to travel to visit our family. You’d rather just be at home, even though you love seeing grandma and grandpa.”
  • “I know you are so tired because we stayed up late to go to your sister’s play. I’m tired too.”
  • “I know you really wanted that special toy, and it’s so hard to know you didn’t get it.”

Talk to your family and make plans together

This is a great way to talk as a family and let everyone have input, and also set realistic expectations. Here’s an example:

“I want to talk with you about Christmas. There are so many fun things to look forward to, but it can also be stressful because there is so much more to do. What are you looking forward to? Is there anything about this Holiday you don’t like? I wish we could do all those things, but we won’t be able to. What is one thing you really hope will happen?

Mommy will need some extra help, so I’ll be asking you to help me with different things. It will help me not be tired and crabby, and we’ll have more time to play and have fun together.”

Practice gratitude with your children

Take time each day to share what you are all grateful for. This will make a huge difference in everyone’s outlook, and will help your kids develop a wonderful life-giving habit for a lifetime.

I hope these ideas help you be compassionate with yourself and your children this Christmas season. Even those it’s only 12 days away, you can make some small changes that will help. Being a friend to yourself will help so much, and be a wonderful example to your kids and grandkids, too!

I’d love to hear from you!

What touched your heart from this post? How can you be compassionate with yourself over the Holidays? How can you show kindness and compassion to your kids and grandkids?

Please share on social media or via e-mail with others who might benefit

This post is based on a post first shared on my friend, Sarah Forgrave’s blog: http://www.sarahforgrave.com/2017/11/13/showing-yourself-and-your-kids-compassion-holidays/

3 thoughts on “Extending Compassion over the Holidays

  1. “I’d love to hear from you! What touched your heart from this post? How can you be compassionate with yourself over the Holidays? How can you show kindness and compassion to your kids and grandkids?”

    This touched me: “. . .it’s a time to be thankful to God for all He’s done for us,. . . .” –and- “Don’t forget to include and honor God as you go through this season. Think of ways that are meaningful to you to honor Him and include Him throughout the season.”

    —God’s great love in Christ. —I always think how can I eliminate more of the “busy” so I can have a more —faith-driven, grace-saturated, God-glorifying holiday season. In a world where everything revolves around yourself—protect yourself, promote yourself, comfort yourself, and take care of yourself —Jesus says, “Crucify yourself.” —Balance, I always pray for more balance.

    Also, “Talk to yourself kindly” and “. . . .I’ll be a good friend to myself by not trying to do everything, and not get down on myself when things don’t pan out as planned.”
    And, “. . .getting enough sleep (even if you have a lot to do), eat as healthy as you can, take time to move your body (a daily walk), and remove things from your plate. . . .”

    All that is g-r-e-a-t self-care. —Wow!!!

    . . . .Oh, and maybe the begin with the end in mind approach too: re: “Imagine it’s January 5th and you look back on your Holidays and say,” Wow, I’m pretty happy with how things went. I’m so glad that this, this, and this happened. I’m really glad I didn’t try to make this and this happen.” . . . .so begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of our desired direction and destination, and then continue being proactive.

    Great post, thank you Kim!!! . . . . Kim and Sarah, I’m praying for your heath and healing and holiness in Christ, —always! 💕😊↪✞

  2. Hi Kim…Looking back now on Christmas week, I still find the reality of how things are versus how I want them to be challenging and discouraging. I know you are right about adjusting my expectations and planning ahead. I am still figuring out what I can control and what I can’t. My heart is sad over some family stuff that I can’t change and the holidays remind me of this.

    1. Dear Roberta, so sorry for the sadness you are feeling about the family stuff that happened over the Holidays. It seems like even when we prepare ahead of time, it still hurts so much when disappointments happen. Sending you a big hug….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *