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Parenting and the Holidays: How to Stay Mindful

I love the holiday season.  But let’s be honest, for every beautiful cookie exchange or flawless school play posted online, there’s a disaster in the kitchen or a meltdown in the car that was not on social media for all to see.

I consider myself a glass half-full person. That does not mean that I’m happy all the time. I’m not, and my children are not. Our life feels crazy most of the time. But I find that celebrating the small victories, those in between moments of success or joy, helps me to stay positive and engaged.  On days when the tree has gotten yanked down (again?!) or my little elf has decided to paint the wall in permanent marker, no one would blame me for falling apart. Sometimes I do, but sometimes I don’t.

As my children grow, I understand better that we will always have these moments of intense emotion in our family. Even on the very good days, those moments are there, and it’s important to pause and acknowledge them. If we don’t make an effort to recognize the joyful moments – no matter how seemingly small – it becomes too easy to stop noticing them. Let me share with you a mindfulness game I use to make sure I don’t forget to pay attention to these small moments.

Rose, Thorn, Bud

Last year I attended a talk given by Neil Pasricha, author of The Happiness Equation.  Neil’s positive energy filled a room full of tired parents and professionals as he talked about how to infuse your daily life with opportunities to find happiness. One of these ideas in particular stuck with me: Rose, Thorn, Bud.

This idea is simply a way for us to recognize the roses (the positive), acknowledge the thorns (the challenges), and notice the buds (the emerging).  It could be a way to connect with your partner at the end of the day, organize ideas in a journal, reflect on your child’s progress, or frame your thoughts in those precious moments before sleep.  It could also be a way to take stock of the year as one ends and another begins.  The roses, thorns and buds will look different for all of us. But even on those hard days, we can all try to take a minute to look for the sunshine trying to seep through.  For example, as I ignore my dirty dishes and half opened boxes of decorations, here is my moment of reflection:

Rose (What am I grateful for/celebrating today?)

I had a really nice moment with my son when he shared something about school that I know meant a lot to him. Maybe it was because we had some time together before bed, just the two of us. If I had rushed it, he wouldn’t have shared, and I wouldn’t have known how proud he was.

Thorn (What challenge did I face today?)

I am having a hard time reaching a professional goal I set for myself.  It can feel very frustrating and stressful at times and I know this affects my ability to deal with my children’s behavior.

Bud (What am I looking forward tomorrow? What is emerging?)

I made a plan with my youngest for after school tomorrow and I’m looking forward to disconnecting and enjoying our time together.

As we head into this busy time of year, remember to pause and take a minute to celebrate your moments of joy.

Big or small, what are your roses today?  Please share with us in the comment section and we’ll celebrate our victories together!

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