“The Most Wonderful Time of Year”??

“The Most Wonderful Time of Year”??

Not 100% sure I would call it the “Most Wonderful Time of Year”!!

The malls are full of people bustling about. Children are bouncing off the walls with excitement. Parents are trying their best to make this a happy time adding pressure to their already busy times. Some people have located far away from family and friends which can add to feelings of isolation. My chest is pounding just writing this post!

It is possible to take a great deal of stress out of the holidays but it will take time and a change of perspective.

How can we make this a Wonderful Time of Year?

1.  Lower your expectations! 

A number of people ( me included) put so much pressure on ourselves to make everything perfect! What is perfect? You are the one setting the bar so ….lower it! This year my goal is that we take in the holiday spirit as much as we can handle.

2.  Schedule Downtime

I am blocking out time that we have absolutely nothing planned. I will not fill it with an activity. Why? We all need time to decompress and do whatever we want. This reduces your stress level which makes it easier to cope with the high demands this time of year.

3.  Have Fun

Play and have fun! Do things that you enjoy.

I will be following my dad’s lead. My father made it very clear that Christmas day was all about the kids. We had time to play and have fun. I have a number of memories of us laughing and playing as a family.

4.  Be Prepared

I recommend having lots of extra batteries on hand! Remove a great deal of the packaging on your child’s gifts. Make it easy for your child to play with that toy.

Also, make sure you have all the food on hand that is needed. Hangry people makes for a bunch of cranky people. If your child is prone to be anxious in new or crowded places utilize the techniques that help your little one cope well. Here is a link to a member only article that may be helpful How to Help an Anxious Child

5.  Pack your Patience

The most important thing for you to pack is your patience!! The calmer you can be the better. I will be the strange woman taking deep breathes while I am in a lineup. I will do my best to be patient. This will help me as a parent. My little man is already showing signs of being excited. He is pointing out the lights or anything he finds interesting. I now take extra time to get places so he can explore and enjoy our time together.


I hope you have a wonderful holiday experience with reduced stressed and a great deal of fun!

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/etc….!!

All the Best,

Brenda McSween


Parenting: Let the Raw Feelings Happen

Parenting: Let the Raw Feelings Happen

This is a bit of a raw feelings post for me. Every once and awhile I will post about things I am experiencing. I feel that this post is necessary so you see that things happen to all of us.

Our little man has entered into a whole new world this year. He is in full-time school. I know..What is the big deal? Well for 6 years I have been able to check in with him and help him unload feelings through the day. Now he has to do that on his own. This is a great thing for him to have to learn.

Here is where the post becomes raw… Like most 6-year-olds he occasionally has struggled with keeping up with his peers. He also puts a great deal of pressure on himself. The school environment is proving to not be a place that he feels competent in. As a parent, I just want to run into the school and save him!! Don’t worry my helicopter and cape are hidden.

As soon as I pick him up from school, I can tell from the look on his face how much writing and colouring he had to do. So what do I do…I let him play and have fun on the playground. He uses his imagination and a number of his feelings from the day are gone by the time we reach our vehicle to come home.

He usually has a great night. I, on the other hand, fight back tears and try to stay composed until I can unload or take a few minutes for myself. For a few weeks, I struggled and I mean I struggled with, “why the hell is this getting to me”.

This is when you yell ……practice what you preach!!!

I was getting triggered by his emotion. His day was bringing me right back to the little girl that was trying hard to keep up with her peers. The little girl that would have rathered been playing in the park or pushing bricks down a ramp. The little girl that was told by several teachers “if only you would stay focused”, “you would forget your head if it was not attached to your head”, and the best (which was saved for later in my schooling career) “you are too stupid and will never read and write properly”.

So what can we do when we realize that our emotion is affecting how we parent…

1.  Acknowledge that this your issue

2.  Practice self-care

3.  Be mindful and use strategies that help keep you grounded (deep breathing, meditations, and visualizations help me)

4.  Create lots of memories with your child to focus on instead of focusing on the negative ones from your childhood.

It was a big deal when I realized where my feelings and emotions were coming from. I would be lying if I said that now everything is great and I never get brought back to the crappy feelings. It is constant work but worth every ounce of energy it takes. This allows me to be the Mommy I want to be!

Please remember when you find yourself getting emotionally involved or exhausted by a situation with your child it can very easily be linked to how things were for you as a child. When you see and recognize that, it lifts a huge weight off of your shoulders. I recommend that you use all the strategies mentioned above and also find someone that you feel comfortable with that you can talk about your feelings.

A couple of years ago I was blessed with the opportunity to take the Professional Intensive course from Hand In Hand Parenting. One of the strategies that they promote is a “Listening Partner”. This is someone that you have a scheduled time that you meet either in person, online or on the phone. This person listens to what you have to say without judgment or trying to fix the issue. Then after a set amount of time you take on the role of listener. I can honestly say that this has been a wonderful experience for me. My Listening Partner and I do our best to have a phone call weekly or bi-weekly. We have both reported feeling a huge weight lifted after our conversation.

A book that I highly recommend if you find yourself in the same space as I was in is “Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive” by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell, M.Ed. This book really helped with giving me perspective during the roughest times I have felt as a parent.

As Always Be the Parent You Want to Be!

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