Top 10 family tips to thrive during the Holidays!

top 5 family tips to thrive during the holidays

Hi there,

I hope that everyone is able to take a minute for themselves and look around and take it all in.

I know this can be an incredibly difficult time for some folks and our hearts go out to you and your families.  Grief and Anger are such tricky things especially during the holidays.

We have listed our top 10 tips to thrive over the holidays:

1. Practice Self Compassion - to me this is the most important one.  Some of you may say yeah time.  Please make time and practice self compassion on a daily basis.  If you are running around worrying about everyone else and you are depleted or feeling empty making sure everyone else is having a good time will be a much tougher job.   If this means a cup of tea, a call to a friend, a walk, just take 5 minutes.  These years go super fast and we will miss them.   For awesome self compassion exercises such as breathing, meditation go to

2. Favorite Activity Picks - the beginning of each holiday.  Every member picks 3 things they want to do over the holidays.  They do not have to involve of mine is going to be reading a fiction book.  I try not to put too many rules around it.  It helps the kids think about what they would like to do, limits the boredom factor because we have a list of activities,  but also they are more open when they know someone else would like to do something on their list.  By the end of the break we usually have everyone covered.  It also teaches patience, intention and follow through.

3.  Electronics and Unplug - I was tired of electronics being a constant battle in our house.  I do not get all the games but I know my kids love them.  My husband and I decided to learn what they are all about.  The kids are encouraged that we want to learn what they like, they get a good laugh about how badly we play, they can teach us something.  We have started to say you have an hour of free electronics a day.  You decide when you want to do it.  You need to tell me when you start.  You need to tell me when you stop.  If this does not happen it is gone for the rest of the day.  They start regulating it themselves..most of the time.  There are a few exceptions, music I am cool with, family movie does not count towards the time and if they want to work out to a show ok by me.  Unplugging and heading outside ensures everyone including ourselves are gadget free....Even if you are not an outdoor person there are lots of cool things to do outside.  Where we live there is a figure 8 skating rink that is super fun.  They even rent skates.  Tobogganing is one of our family favorites....with the tubes it does not matter what age you are they are easy on your back.   For our warm weather friends, beach walks, tennis, playing ball or frisbee catch,  going to the batting cages, playing hide and seek or capture the flag...all simple things that get you out and active.  

4.  Focus on Tone more than what they say - One thing I have learned a lot about is Self Regulation this past fall.  When the child's voice is loud, high pitch and frequency it is a sign they are under stress.  There are many reasons for the arousal state - sugar, too many people, no sleep etc.  I focus more on how they are saying it vs what they are actually saying.  If it gets out of hand, lights, music, tv, turn off and we are just quiet for a bit.  It helps calm the brain down.  Check out Dr. Stuart Shanker's work on slef regulation.  They also have a great FB group.

5.  The Magic of "Do Overs" - We use this one a lot at our house.  For example, this year we had a major do over around decorating our tree.  We had to decorate on a certain night because my husband was leaving on business.  The problem was no one was really in a very festive mood due to a tough day all around.  Long story short (check out my FB post) big fight, broken ornaments and hurt feelings.  We shut it down.  The next day at breakfast my son said I think we should do a do over for the tree.  Everyone agreed and we managed to have a nice time.

6.  Music and Play - any music from Christmas to count down top songs of the year.  Putting fun music on, quick spontaneous dance party, or taking turn and playing DJ whether on a road trip to friends and/or family or just at home.  It can really help boost the mood in the house.  Our church puts on an amazing Christmas Eve Day celebration full of music - just singing as a group can boost the endorphins.  As our kids age - we may think they do not want to play with us anymore but I am finding this could not be further from the truth.  We has started to bring back tickle fights, games, snowman building, nerf wars back into the mix.  Be a kid again...your kids will love it.  

8.  Monitor Sugar - This is a challenge in our house.  My kids lose their minds on sugar....common sense, filters, go right out the window.  The reality is there are a lot of treats, drinks, baked goods etc and I do not want to always be the grinch.  We just talk about it and I am trying to teach them how to self monitor.  If they are going to have a piece of fudge have a veggie first or if they already had 3 cups of apple cider they need to go outside and run it off. I want them to know they have choices such as 3 treats per day they can choose when to have them :)

9.  Traditions - Traditions really are something that can provide comfort, consistency and memories for our families.  They can be super simple from using a certain decoration for the table, to having a certain something for breakfast Christmas morning.  If you do not have any right now that is ok - get the kids involved in a tradition that they would like to do over the holidays.  We make a lot of our Christmas gifts so our house becomes the North Pole through December.  We do a shop at Michaels at the end of November...but I love that the kids use their strengths from carpentry to poetry writing to singing and what there family may want.  These traditions I fondly look back on now as an adult.

10. Do Something for Someone Else - When I was growing up the week before Christmas it was all hands on deck.  My parents continued a tradition from my grandparents of baking coffee cakes for our neighbours and friends.  I think we peaked at 60 one year.  We spend the day together and bake for others.  On the 24th we would drive around, drop off, give hugs and on to the next friend/family.  It was a great way to spread some Christmas cheer.  We would always bake a few extra for the Youth without Shelter or Food Kitchen.  Our family continues this tradition and we get to the spend the day with my mom and dad learning how to make them and out of the stores.

Have a safe and happy holidays!


Susan and Sperry



Susan Schenk