Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Creating Christmas Calm

The Christmas season is a wonderful time of year for families, but it can also be pretty stressful and chaotic.  I’d like to share a simple idea to help you and your loved ones gain some peace and perspective on what to focus in the days ahead.

When my sons were in Boy Scouts, their troop had a practice to evaluate and improve how their campouts would run. They would gather and hold a “Stop, Start, Continue” discussion.  Here are the questions they’d discuss:

Continue – What did you like?  What do you want to keep doing?
Stop – What didn’t work so well?  What should we stop doing?
Start – What are some ideas to improve the way this runs and how much fun we have?

This approach can be applied throughout the year, but can be especially helpful during the busy holidays. Want to ensure you have a calm Christmas?

The simplest way to create calm is to:
STOP...multi tasking

Multi tasking IS NOT the way to create calm. Studies continue to show that multi-tasking drains energy and causes more stress than doing one or two simple things at a time.

Perhaps you are trying to put dinner on the table and read with your 1st grader...this is less than enjoyable for all. Set a timer and tell the little one you will read together...with nothing else going on for 20 minutes. Then you will focus on making dinner for 20 minutes. This is also known as setting boundaries. Help everyone in your family be calm by respecting boundaries and stopping the multi-tasking myth.

STOP the multi-tasking.  All of these things are not equally urgent - do what is important and let things go until later—or ask for some help. 
START with the end in mind:  What do you want “Bake Christmas cookies” to really look and feel like? Are you going for “Martha Stewart cookies” or would three-dozen cookies the same shape with three different colors of sugar sprinkled on the top be okay?  If you need a showstopper, have you allotted enough time and other resources to complete the task? 
CONTINUE to lavish love, create memories, and remember to BREATHE!

You may even consider creating a quiet night: Create one by turning off the electronics and reading a story together, like the story of Jesus’s birth or the classic story ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’.

Using soft jingle bells taps into the season and allows little ones (and big ones) to learn how to control sounds. For tweens and teens: ask them to commit to a silent night. No electronics - focus on playing a game, doing a puzzle, reading silently in a room together. If your home can accommodate it, create a fire in the fireplace and encourage all to sit and listen to the snap crackle and pop.

Thinking through your holiday celebrations using the “Stop, Start, Continue” approach, what changes might you want to make in your family’s lives?  What might your family members suggest?

Christmas and other holiday celebrations don’t have to be chaotic and overwhelming. Follow the “Stop, Start, Continue” approach this holiday season and help your family Christmas to be calm.