Silly season is upon us, yet again.
And as the complexities of the world continue around us, parenting can feel more exhausting than ever.
At the best of times, when we as parents feel like we’re managing the ups and downs of life with children, we can still become easily overwhelmed and this often leads to disconnection from our children.
When these times of overwhelm and disconnection begin to take over, we may find ourselves being emotionally unavailable to our children.
What does this look like?
It could manifest as being unable to stay grounded when big feelings arise. It may be continuous cycles of reacting and feeling triggered. It may be an inability to play and be spontaneous. It may be a gnawing feeling of impatience. It may be utter exhaustion and not making time to connect. I’m sure even different ones will come up for you as you read this—note them.
I don’t expect any of us to be all on, all the time—let’s be real; however, when we get stuck in an emotionally unavailable cycle it not only affects our relationships with our children, it affects our own well-being too. All the things I mentioned before don’t really carry feel-good energy, quite the contrary, and this energy builds up in our systems making it hard to snap out of it.
The festive season can make it even harder to maintain an emotionally available state because we put so much pressure on ourselves to make it unforgettable—and while we’re building memories, we’re also overextending ourselves and our children socially, creating overstimulation and dysregulation.
So, what can we do this festive season to maintain some more equilibrium?
Let’s start with you, Mama and Papa. Let’s reconnect you with you.
You cannot be emotionally available to someone else, if you aren’t emotionally available to yourself.
>> Become aware
Every moment of your day is an opportunity to become aware of what you’re feeling. You don’t even have to do much with it, simply acknowledging it lets you know that you’re there. You care. You’re tuning in.
>> Prioritize well-being
There is no time like the present to start advocating for your own well-being. You know that tough thing we need to do sometimes—that saying, “No, thank you” thing? Do that. Like, really really do it. I know we can’t say no to everything, but tune in and find the middle way that’s going to work for you. It does exist.
>> Have fun
Wow, we become so wound up in the seriousness of life that it can truly weigh us down and take the light right out of the most beautiful moments. Tap into the silly of Silly Season this year. Put on your fave tunes and dance in the kitchen, watch funny movies, play a game, and laugh. Laugh. Find the laughter.
Now, here’s what we need for time with the little ones:
>> Find connection
Choose a moment of the day that is dedicated to just you and the little for connection. For me, it’s reading in the morning and reading at bedtime. I commit to these little pockets of calm and presence.
>> Talk it out
The days are busy and out of the ordinary, so let’s keep them in the loop. Take a bit of time to explain what’s happening for the day, so no one feels left out or lost.
It’s so easy to let it all slide when we’re out of routine, but it can quickly become an enmeshment of needs and wants that create conflict. They need healthy boundaries, and so do we. Take a moment to pick your nonnegotiable boundaries, and try to stick to those.
Lastly, I hope you know that the relationship between you and your little is the main thing. Your connection is where the magic lies. Let’s be present and hone in on that, rather than get too caught up in the gifts and the activities.
What these little souls want is for us to be emotionally available, so that we may foster the connection and space for them to grow in love.
And you have all of this within you, Mama and Papa.
You got this.