Tis’ the Season to be Jolly
Or are you flabbergasted that yet another year is about to end? Where does the time go? And, during this time of the year, time seems to fly by at lightning speed. Between deciding on and budgeting for a holiday gift guide for teachers, daycare directors, co-workers, family, and friends, to circumnavigating the heavy snowbird induced traffic (we do love tourists in Miami) it can reach a snazzy level of suspenseful exhaustion and exhilaration. You may find yourself like Riley from Inside Out feeling all types of feels all at once. On top of that your regular daily to-do list, you are in for a treat!
The holiday season is quite difficult for the perfectionist parents, because, well, we want it all and all done well. We tend to overexert ourselves daily and tend to stretch every millisecond of the day to include one last item from our to-do list. So, the holiday season is that on overdrive. The focus of the holidays to take care of everyone else (gift-giving, meal prepping, outfit shopping) and perfectionistic parents can get a tad overwhelmed with keeping up with the daily needs of everyone on top of getting the holiday prep done just right. How many of you for the sake of holiday cheer end up yelling or snapping at your loved ones just before the photoshoot for that dazzling holiday card only to feel guilty about it later? Or fall into the Elf on the Shelf trap?
Our kids feel our angst, too. So, in an attempt to try to assuage your perfectionistic tendencies from going a bit haywire, take note of the following:
The No-Haywire Technique
- Make a to-do list based on Eisenhower’s Box
- Focus on the urgent, the delegation, the important yet not urgent, and the fantastical yet unnecessary.
- This is a lifesaver technique that has helped me reorganize my to-do list to a more realistic outlook on life.
- Choose a gift and step away from the computer, phone, store.
- Make a concerted effort to dedicate “X” amount of time in choosing a gift instead of hours or days trying to choose the “perfect” one only to end up choosing the first one you saw.
- Set realistic expectations and talk your way through it.
- What are the social arrangements this year for the family?
- Who’s going where?
- When was the last time your kids saw these guests/hosts? How will you prepare them for new encounters?
- If you are feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, check-in with yourself.
- What are you trying to prove?
- To whom are you trying to prove that?
- Revisit to-do list if still feeling overwhelmed and adjust accordingly.
- Despite there being less downtime (potentially), continue to spend one-on-one time with your children. They sense your tension and will need to feel reconnected to you.
- Finding non-judgmental, easy-going time with your child will help decrease attention-seeking behavior that can upset the flow of family dynamics in a stressful time.
- Be sensitive to any changes in your life or your child’s life such as the death of a family member, divorce, moving to a new location (home/state/country).
- Pay attention if your child starts conversations about past holiday seasons and explore how they are feeling about the changes this year.
- Check-in with yourself about these changes and talk to someone you can trust or a mental health care professional who can help you process your feelings/thoughts about this.
- If you will be visiting or receiving guests, review acceptable manners with your child (children).
- Do not force your child to kiss anyone hello or goodbye. Respect your child’s initial desire for physical and emotional distance. What other ways can your kids greet someone?
Awareness is Key
The list may sound a bit redundant, but the season can stir up a lot of emotions in all of us, and it is important to have an awareness of such feelings so we can all have a fulfilling and well behaved holiday. Our kids are observing us and picking up on cues more than you can imagine. Being mindful of your feelings is just the first step in teaching your child how to manage situations that can generally be stressful if you feel like you must control and manage it all at once. Learning to release control of what you cannot hold on to anyways is a step towards becoming a recovering perfectionist, a major lesson for you, and the most rewarding gift for your child.
Happy holidays and sending much love,
Dr. Eva Benmeleh is a child psychologist in North Miami who specializes in psychological evaluations, gifted testing, parenting help, and child development. Call (786) 383-4942 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or consultations.