Your child needs your PRESENCE more than any present.....
Connection with our children is the greatest gift, to their sense of safety, their brain development and their ability to be thoughtful, kind and cooperative.
However, there is point in every holiday where the big feelings overflow, or maybe even explode. And I'm not just talking about our children! This is when that sense of connection breaks. It's something that happens in every family, for a myriad of different reasons. So this year, rather than spending so much energy trying to avoid the meltdowns, I'm wondering if you would be willing to try moving toward those areas of tension, in your child, or yourself, allowing them, and listening to what these moments can tell us?
If we can spend a little bit of time preparing ourselves and our children for the festive season, we are more likely to feel calm, connected and joyful. Or, perhaps more importantly, with some good information about emotions and brain science, we might be able to be present enough to welcome the tears and tantrums, and listen to our children (or ourselves!) as the feelings overflow. This is such a healing and reconnecting process - everyone's day improves if you listen to the upsets!
I'd like to share with you my experiences over the last few weeks, as I have been working on this blog! I have been busy, both physically needing to do a lot of things, but also mentally! My thoughts have been busy and distracted. At first, my children seemed to cope with this ok, and life went on as usual, but then I started to notice a few things subtly shifting, then as the connection between us decreased, things weren't so subtle anymore!
Firstly, I noticed my children were not being as cooperative as they usually are, then they started fighting between themselves more often, then, before I knew it, we were all in a place that felt very stuck, hard and definitely not connected!! For a few days I was exhausted with all the yelling, name calling and hitting that was happening around me. I didn't have the patience or the presence to listen well, no inspiration to work things out playfully, and as things escalated, I found myself yelling too, and being so exasperated that I wanted to run a million miles away. As a parent, I'm sure you can relate?
Fortunately, I was able to summon up the last little bit of energy I had one night, after the children had gone to sleep, to call my husband (who was working away from home) and tell him all about how I was feeling. Also fortunately, he was able to listen, as I cried hard, and felt all the frustration, overwhelm and exhaustion leave me with my tears. The very next day there was a shift, and I continued to work on re-establishing the connection with my children that we all so desperately needed. I made sure I stopped being so busy, and got down on the floor and played with them. At first it felt like hard work, and I needed some more moments of being listened to myself (lucky I have such amazing friends who are willing and able to listen), then, as the hard, stuck feelings shifted within me, the whole situation began to change in our house.
My children were listening more, to each other and to me, and were being more thoughtful, kind and co-operative. I stopped trying to avoid the meltdowns and "fix" everything, and instead chose to move toward the tension, allow it, and listen to my children, as they had their upsets, showed me their big feelings and released them through their tears, just as I had.
That sense of connection we have with our children is so important to get us through the busy holiday time as peacefully as possible. Children need to feel us close in order to think well. When they don't feel that sense of connection, they let us know they are disconnected, often in ways that are very frustrating and inconvenient for us, particularly when we are not able tune in and be aware of what they need and what they are really asking for.
So, during these holidays, I wonder if you can do some preparation, and fill up that "connection cup" as much as you can, both for your children and yourself? When your children are filled with a sense of your love, they are more resilient to all that life brings at Christmas time.... the overwhelming excitement, the busyness, the interactions with extended family, the inevitable disappointments, over-tiredness, and over-stimulation.
If you are starting to think already, that you are too busy to give anymore, have a read of this article by Maggie Dent, about how even tiny moments of connection can help. And maybe it's time to pause those busy thoughts, and tune in to yourself, and ask yourself what you need to do to fill your cup, so you can be more resilient too.
Our children need our presence, it's the best present we can give.
Wishing you a magical, connected and present holiday time.