Are you looking forward to winter break?
You might be excited to be with your kids all day for 2 weeks, or maybe the thought is terrifying. Without your usual structure, what are your family dynamics like? Are you ready for this?
Hold on, you’re thinking, what has this got to do with SEX?
Well, my goal is to ensure kids have safe and healthy sexual relationships from the start. Today I’m talking about the relationships part, not the sex part. They’re learning how to be in relationship from you, and winter break is the perfect time to model for them what good relationships look like.
So how do you do that? We get locked into our patterns and sometimes can’t think of what needs to change. Here are three common dynamics and what you can do to connect with and enjoy one another this holiday season.
This family packs in the activities, bouncing from the ice skating rink to visiting Santa to Christmas sales to holiday parties. They’re always DOING, rushing from here to there, from one activity to the next. For my clients who are Do-ers, I ask them to SLOW DOWN. Practice setting boundaries by saying “no, thank you” to some of those holiday events. Choose one – ONLY ONE – thing to do each day. Create the space to let everyone sleep in, have a home-cooked breakfast together, talk about how well they slept or the dreams they dreamt. Leisurely make your way to that one special activity, and really enjoy it. Talk about it afterwards: Is this one activity worth having as a family tradition? If it already is, reminisce about years past. Spend more of the day walking, talking, and eating together. Instead of doing the next thing, make space to really connect.
When this family has leisure time, everyone ends up doing their own thing. Maybe one parent takes over the kitchen, the other parent manages the holiday decorations, one kid is deep in a book, and the other is playing video games or texting at a dizzying pace. For a client who has a family like this, I ask them to hold a family meeting. Make some hot cocoa and sit around the table brainstorming what could be fun to do together. Write down ALL the suggestions, no matter how impractical. Then go through looking for themes: “It looks like we have a lot of suggestions for ways to be outdoors together” or “Many of these have to do with food.” Acknowledge boundaries and cross off those ideas: “We won’t go sky-diving because Mom’s afraid of heights.” See what’s left. You might find out that everyone’s happy to go for a hike or play a board game. Even if what’s left seems passive, like going to a movie together, try it. Great conversations and real connection can happen after that movie.
This family is stressed out by the holidays. No one ever seems to be getting along, and plans to do things together always seem to go sour. For a client with this kind of family dynamic, I ask them to start and end the day with gratitude. In the morning, each person writes down 5 things they feel grateful for. Go ahead with whatever the day’s plans are. In the evening, each person writes a letter to someone they’re grateful for. It could be to a family member, a friend, a celebrity, a favorite author, a local business, a charity. Make it a breakfast ritual to place the letters your mailbox and lift the flag for the mail carrier. Your family might not want to share the morning list or read the letters out loud at first, and that’s ok – maybe you’ll get there after the first week of winter break. As the days go by, notice if a little gratitude for each other is creeping in.
Even if your family has no trouble connecting over the holidays, maybe one of my suggestions still sounds good to you. Use winter break to slow down, spend time together, and acknowledge what’s good in life.
May the holidays be full of joy and blessings for your family.
P.S. If you’re looking for more ideas on how to connect with your kids, click here to schedule a call with me.
P.P.S. Up for a challenge? Check out the What to Say When webinar for important conversations you can have with your kids during this vacation time together.