7 WAYS TO GET TO CHRISTMAS WITHOUT A TOTAL MELTDOWN
Posted by Carey Nieuwhof
Well, at least I’m sure it does at some point over Christmas.
When I see people posting pictures of how wonderful setting up the tree is and how magical the decorating was (okay, okay, I’ve done this…I’m guilty), it reminds me how often that process has not been an Instagrammable moment for me over the years.
I would routinely be WAY overambitious in thinking I could accomplish both the outdoor decorating and putting up the tree in about 35 minutes flat, only to be incredibly frustrated when the process took far longer than the twelve days of Christmas themselves.
You know, the realization that the lights that worked last year when you put them away, mysteriously broke in July and didn’t bother to tell anyone? Or the tree topper that toppled you over the chair you were standing on? That’s what I’m talking about.
It was in those moments that my Christmas spirit would evaporate.
Got moments like that in your family?
We all know that Christmas creates incredible pressure, and your family ends up caving under the weigh of expectation.
How do you fix that?
I’m learning, year by year, what I need to do to make sure the prep for Christmas doesn’t kill Christmas.
Here’s are some holiday tips that can make your holiday more peaceful all around.
1 – CREATE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
If the secret to happiness is low expectations, then set realistic expectations for the holidays.
Take your expectations and cut them in half. You might find some joy in the process.
2 – SET A REASONABLE PACE
When I was in school, my last exam would finish on December 23rd. I’d have 24 hours to get everything ready. I’d run into Christmas exhausted.
Now, theoretically, I could start preparing in July. But I still tend to leave it too late.
A sustainable pace creates a sustainable peace. And who doesn’t need that?
3 – EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
I don’t like surprises, but Christmas is full of them.
If you expect surprise guests, surprise commitments, surprise interruptions and surprise expenses, you won’t be as a surprised. And you’ll be much more gracious.
4 – AGREE ON A BUDGET
Peace on earth is one thing. Peace in January is another.
If you agree on a budget for everything and everyone ahead of time, you will significant reduce your stress before Christmas.
5 – SAY NO
You don’t have to go to every Christmas party or send cards to everyone you know.
When you say no to the less important things, you’re saying yes to what matters most.
6 – REST
Someone once said 70% of discipleship is a good night’s sleep. There’s some truth in that.
If you’re rattled, frazzled and angry, go to bed.
You are at your most kind when you’re at your most rested.
7 – PRIORITIZE TIME WITH GOD
Unfortunately, one of the great omissions of the Christmas season is peoples’ personal time with God. The very reason we’re doing all of this is to celebrate someone who loves you.
So love Him back. Start your day with God, and you’re far more likely to remember Him in all your moments.
When I following these seven guidelines, Christmas is so much better.
But it’s not just better for me, it’s significantly better for everyone else too.
And then you might have something to Instagram about.
About the Author:
Carey Nieuwhof is the lead pastor of Connexus Church and author of several books, including Parenting Beyond Your Capacity (with Reggie Joiner) and his latest book, "Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow." Carey speaks to church leaders around the world about leadership and parenting. He writes one of the most widely read church leadership blogs at www.CareyNieuwhof.com and hosts the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast where he interviews top leaders each week.
HOW TO MAKE GOOD MEMORIES WITHOUT GRUMPY SIDE EFFECTS
Posted by Sarah Anderson
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We’re on the cusp of all things holiday and fun. The festivals. The fairs. The pumpkin patches. And the promise for more parties and holiday spectaculars just around the corner. It’s the kick off to a magical—if not insane—season, made all the more magical—and insane—with kids.
Not more than a few weeks ago, I was reminded of how magical/insane this time of year is.
Our family had planned and attended so many “fun” things that particular weekend we turned into tired, cranky, sugar-assaulted people of no use to each other or the world.
We wanted to be the fun parents. And to create memories. I wanted us to be able to look fondly back on weekends like this and hear my kids say things like, “Thank you!” “That was awesome!” I didn’t want us to be grumpy and short with each other. But with so much “fun” planned, we started running on less and less, our fuses getting shorter and shorter until it didn’t matter what we were doing. We were too exhausted to enjoy it.
And that’s when it hit me.
When it comes to making memories, my kids are taking note of the emotions that come along with them.
They see a stressed out mom.
A tired dad.
And they are living in sugar strung out bodies.
I’m learning if I want to create good memories that last a lifetime, then I have to do more than just plan for the fun. I have to be at a place to enjoy the fun. And they do too.
What that means for my family is something different than what it means for yours. For ours, it means for us to be at a place to engage fun in a positive and healthy way, sometimes we have to say “NO”. . .
To some birthday parties.
To some festivals.
To some fairs.
To some holiday shanningans.
Not because we are boring and straight-laced parents. But because we are learning ourselves. And we know to get the most out of an experience, we have to bring the most into it. Our best into it.
When my kids remember their childhood. I want them to remember fun experiences. But I also want them to remember happy parents in those experiences.
A mom who is at peace.
A dad who is present.
A family where stressed out wasn’t the norm.
Emotions make great memories. And to have the right kind of emotions, sometimes we have to say no to some things to make room for the emotions we want to last a lifetime.
I want my kids to remember…
Those only come when you give them space.
We are sowing “no’s” now so we can reap the kind of memories we want to have later.
We can’t do it all, which means not every memory can be made. But that’s okay. Because when we push ourselves too hard for too long for the sake of making memories, the only memories our kids make are of tired and grumpy parents who just need to sit down for a minute.
So figure out what matters to you. When we start to pare down our crowded calendar, we’ll start to get a clearer idea of what actually matters—and not just entertains us.
As we are on the brink of a season celebrating gratitude, peace, joy and connection with the people we love, we have the opportunity to dictate whether our calendars will rob us of those very things, or whether we will call the shots.
We can’t do it all. We don’t have to do it all. Don’t be afraid to say “no” this season so you can say “yes” to the sort of memory-making you want to go the distance in your kid’s lives—memories of a fun experience and happy parents.
Because when they get both, everyone wins. And mom and dad won’t need a nap.
About the Author:
Sarah Anderson is a writer and communicator who has been involved in ministry since 2003. She is a lead writer and content creator for Orange's XP3 High School curriculum. Sarah lives in Roswell, Georgia, and is a big fan of her husband, Rodney, her two boys, Asher and Pace, and, in her weaker moments, McDonald's French fries. Read more from Sarah on her blog, www.sarahbanderson.com.