[Editor's note: This month, Shine Parenting Gurus are sharing their tips on how they get through the holiday season without losing their wits and patience. Have a tip to add? Join in!]
Black Friday signals the start of the holiday shopping and preparation frenzy. If you are smart (aleck) and frugal (cheap) you might have completed your shopping on December 26, 2009 during the "After Christmas Sales" last year. In theory, you could be chillin', throwing back a brewski, and laughing at everyone else as they scramble to find that perfect gift and get ready for the holiday season. But really, how many people are out there like that?
In my household, we have reserved the pushin'-and-shovin' shopping for our youngest child who still finds it more enjoyable to tear open the wrapping paper that's more expensive than the gift rather than receive that one classic item that last for years (like a cashmere sweater or electronic iGadget). So we endure the malls and escapades to see that pure joy on her face. In the midst of this hair-pulling craziness here are a few tips and tricks we have learned along the way to stay sane during this time of year:
- Hot Cocoa Therapy: Call a few like-minded gal pals and relax over a hot cuppa cocoa for some holiday therapy. Save your retail therapy for after the holidays.
- Slow Down With Puzzle Pills: Bring out your card table, set it in the high-traffic area of your house, and plop down a few puzzle boxes. Your family will suddenly remember to stop, chill-ax and slow their pace while they put together that 1000-piece puzzle your Aunt Fanny gave you way back when.
- Exercise Your Body: After years of telling myself that paying for a workout was a waste of money (after all I could hike, bike and run on my own for free, but did that ever happen?) it turns out signing up for a Pilates class was the best thing I could have done for ME. I work out with a great friend and we stretch our bodies as we ease our stress. I feel like a new person every time I walk out of that class. Exercise is such an "in-the-moment" experience. It is a great way to ease your stress any time of the year.
- Exercise Your Mind: As you get older it's more important than ever to keep your mind engaged. My husband and I like to do crossword puzzles, brain games and read novels (reading the newspaper can make you more stressed!) to unwind and decompress.
- Exercise Your Palette: During the holidays people often complain of putting on a few pounds with numerous cookies and parties filling up their plates. But you can have fun with your family and laugh over a few shared recipes as you prepare and cook up a nice meal or treat. Share some of the love with friends and family by making cookies for gifts or inviting a few friends over for an impromptu Belgian waffle brunch. So what if you gain a few merry pounds - isn't that what New Year's Resolutions are for?
- Stop the Whining: I'm on a gratitude kick, learning to engage my "Gratitude Attitude". What's that all about? It's about appreciating what you have in your life and lowering your negative energy. It's about showing the love you have for all of the little things in your life and realizing they are often the big things afterall. Don't dwell on the 'don't haves' and the 'what-ifs' in your past or present. Those affect your future. By showing appreciation on a daily basis it will make you a happier person long term.
- Start a Ripple of Kindness: Display your act of kindness by doing something totally from the heart and watch the ripple effect and form into a tidal wave. Buy groceries for the elderly man next to you in the grocery line, pay the toll for the car behind you, buy soft frozen yogurt for your colleagues, bring the trash bins in for your neighbor. Start this tradition over the holidays and continue it throughout the year and you'll realize how great you feel by taking your kindness to a new level.
- Preserve Your Memories: Last but not least, I find taking photos and videos is a great way to stop and smell the gingerbread cookies. Taking photos or videos is such a "present" (as in RIGHT NOW) activity and results in these incredible, indelible imprints in your memory (as in lasting GIFTS). My family thoroughly enjoys watching photo slideshows and videos we've all put together and we laugh until our jolly bellies ache with joy.