Sunday, December 11, 2016

How to Parent From Your C.O.R.E. this Holiday Season

By: Jamie Perillo, LPC

The holidays can be full of wonderful activities, visiting with family and friends, and enjoying family traditions, but for many, it can also be an overwhelming, and have too many obligations, expectations, and expenses. When you Parent from you C.O.R.E. you can set limits, focus on your family values, and be present to enjoy the holidays. Here are a few ways to parent from your C.O.R.E. this holiday season:

Communicate: Express your needs. If you need help, time for yourself, or a have a desire to participate in specific traditions or activities, ask for it. Be clear and specific on what you need with those close to you. When your needs are met it is easier to enjoy the season.

One to One Time: There can be a lot of opportunity to run from one party or cookie swap to the next, but it’s important, especially this time of year, to make individual time for you and your family. The big office party may feel important, but imagine the enjoyment of gathering with a small group of friends or taking a family drive while listening to holiday music ad drinking cocoa to view local holiday lights. To explore more family time ideas check out our previous blog on “25 Affordable Family Holiday Activities.” Don’t forget to take a little time for yourself  - perhaps make that hot cocoa a little special and enjoy a movie.

Rituals: If you don’t have a few already, this is the perfect time of year to start family rituals or traditions. Choose something meaningful to your family values. Our family enjoys baking cookies, gathering with friends and family, having movie nights, and volunteering.

Emotional Presence: The excitement and often hectic nature of the season can pull you right out of the present moment causing you to miss out on meaningful moments. Many parents express difficulty being present with their children and spouse when they are silently checking off their “to do list” and feeling exhausted. When you notice yourself drifting from the present moment, take a few deep breaths and feel your feet on the floor. Then observe what is occurring around you in that exact moment and describe it to yourself. This exercise will help you let go of your stressful thoughts and re-enter the moment to allow you to enjoy your time with your family. Focus on their smile, laughter, silliness and excitement, or just a moment when you are grateful for where you are and what you have.

By focusing on these steps you will find yourself more relaxed, present, and happier this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

25 Affordable Holiday Family Activities

By: Jamie Perillo, LPC

1.       Hide a holiday or winter book each night for twenty –five nights. Each night the kids get to hunt for a book then have family story time.

2.       Bundle up and take a walk or hike outside.

3.       PJ’s, popcorn, and your favorite family movie.

4.       “Minivan Express” - Leave a ticket on your child’s pillow for a surprise night aboard the “minivan express” equipped with popcorn, hot cocoa, and music. Pile the kids in the car and enjoy your treats and drive around looking at holiday light displays.

5.       Make your own salt dough or cinnamon ornaments.

6.       Check out your local high school, college, or community center for a winter play or musical. Pack a snack and enjoy!

7.       Bake and decorate cookies together.

8.       Have a camp-in under the stars. String lights in your living room, get cozy in some sleeping bags, and have a winter camp-in under the stars. Don’t forget the s’mores!

9.       Game night. Unplug all electronics, phones, televisions and grab your favorite family board games.

10.   Cook a favorite family recipe together. Dress up and have a fancy dinner at home. Not the dress up type? Grab your comfy clothes, and picnic blanket, and have a family picnic indoors.

11.   Volunteer together. Find a cause meaningful to you and volunteer as a family.

12.   Holiday lights/decorations scavenger hunt! Make a scavenger hunt (or find one online), take a drive, and see who can complete their list first.

13.   Make Gratitude cards. Decorate cards, write words of gratitude and thanks, and give to family, friends, teachers, and other helpful and meaningful people.

14.   Date night. Have a date night with your kids.

15.   Family Photographers. Give each child a camera, let them click away, then print the pictures and make a family scrapbook.

16.   Craft together.

17.   Try something new as a family.

18.   Make gingerbread houses, pretzel log cabins, or cookie cottages.

19.   Try a healthy family activity together. Take a yoga class (many studios offer “By donation classes” around the holidays), snow shoe, ice-skate, take a walk on a beach, or play a game of catch.

20.   Many towns have a “Holiday Stroll” this time of year that include special family activities and treats. Find one nearby and take a stroll.

21.   Participate in a 25 Days of Kindness Challenge. Find one online or have each family member do one kind gesture for someone each day. Log your experiences.

22.   Host a potluck gathering for family or friends.

23.   Spend a day helping a neighbor, family member, or friend. Run errands, clean, or just keep them company.

24.   Check out your local library, place of worship, or parks and recreational center for low-cost holiday activities.

25.   Try a painting class. Enjoy a fun family activity with an added bonus of making some homemade gifts.