Families, Happy Kids: Parenting Tips from Prevent Child Abuse Arizona

For many, planning and having something to look forward to keeps us sane, even when is “normal.” Given the current state of our world, though, many of the holiday traditions we look forward to have already been canceled or changed. So, given our new reality, how do keep up our holiday spirits—and those of our children?

Meghan Hays Davis, Program and Training Director at Prevent Child Abuse Arizona, shared some tips.

“A few years ago,” she said, “I inherited a ceramic light-up Christmas tree. I had coveted this for years because it reminded me of Christmas Eves at my grandparents’ house. As I start thinking about the holidays for my family, I asked my boys what their favorite part of Christmas is. My little one said it was being with the whole family.”

For so many people, spending time and enjoying traditions with the whole family is just not possible this year. This change brings about anticipatory grief for many, Meghan said, herself included. While some people plan to go 110% to make up for the loss of normal, others feel so much anxiety about having no control that they can’t even think about making plans right now.

Each of these reactions is normal, Meghan said, and either way, people can celebrate in ways that fulfill that need for tradition and connection. Focus on what you can control. With that in mind, people can consider letting go of some things, and picking up others.

Things we can let go of:

  1. Pinterest pressure. We will survive if our porch, our cookies, or our family photos do not look like the ones on Pinterest. Let’s drop the stress that comes with this aspiration. Good enough is just that: good enough.
  2. Insta-worthy posts. So many times we get stuck in documentary, picture-taking mode that we miss those little moments that make experiences special. Let’s move away from the idea if we don’t post, it didn’t happen.
  3. The idea that bigger is better. Simplify your events and boil them down to what matters and how we want our kids and family (and ourselves) to feel this holiday season.

Some things we can pick up:

  1. Minimal-effort cheer. Think about how you can bring tradition and cheer into your home right now without spending our efforts on perfection. Lazy evenings watching holiday movies, everyone in pajamas to go look at Christmas lights, extra marshmallows and hot chocolate, and embracing the messiest cookies that happen when we don’t control them.
  2. Family harmony through connection. When we reduce the pressure on ourselves, our household stress drops. Kids who feel connected behave better. More snuggles, more downtime, more affection.
  3. Spreading cheer. Share those cookies with neighbors, call your family, donate old coats, play that holiday music loud and proud.
  4. Your own family traditions. You will often find it’s the feelings, not the things, that fill us with joy.

Our kids don’t remember how beautiful the front porch was or how perfect the cookies were; our kids remember our presence and our time together and the feelings that come from that. Happy holidays—and Happy New Year!

Editor’s Note: look for the Strong Families, Happy Kids column in every issue of Prescott Woman Magazine. It’s designed to support parents with actionable tips and strategies they can use to create optimal environments for their children to thrive. To learn more about Prevent Child Abuse Arizona’s mission and resources visit www.pcaaz.org