It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I love Christmas, if you hadn’t noticed. It’s so magical.
I always hope Christmas will be such a joyful, connecting, fun time. And it is, but there’s also no doubt that it can be stressful for a lot of people. Everywhere I go I hear someone threatening a child with no presents unless they are ‘good‘. That tells me people are stressed! It makes sense. There are so many things to do and people to see that it can all get a bit overwhelming, for us as well as the children.
What if we could consciously focus on connection each day and use this time as a bit of a reset. Come out the other end feeling more connected, not less. End the year on a high instead of feeling frazzled. Would you join me?
I’m going to set an intention each day of advent. Something that can boost connection and closeness in my family. Just little things that anyone can do, we don’t need to add any more complications to the list of to do’s! I’d love for you to get involved too! Check-in with this post each day and see what we’re focusing on. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram and let me know how you go. Use the hashtag #connectedadvent2020 if you share about your experience so that I can see too!
Who’s ready? Let’s make this December super connecting. Surely we all need it.
“In the midst of a crisis of isolation, where loneliness leads to deaths of despair, being truly connected isn’t a luxury. It’s a lifesaver.” -Casper Ter Kuile
A Connected Advent: 25 Days of Parenting Intentions
Day 1. Say Good Morning
This sounds so basic, right? Of course say good morning! But, do you? Often I’ll walk out bleary eyed and say a general ‘good morning’ in the direction of whoever is there while I make a cup of tea.
Take the time to say good morning to everyone first thing this morning. Touch their shoulder, get their attention, and look in their eyes. Offer a hug if they’re into it. Starting the day off with a connecting moment really sets the tone for the day. Make this a habit for every morning.
Day 2. Bedtime Rituals
We want to start and end the day feeling connected. Is your bedtime ritual connecting? How can you make it more so? It’s tempting to feel rushed at bedtime. The moment you get to chill and not be responsible for others is so close and you are tired and really need that time, right? Today, try to slow down and enjoy this part of the day with your children. Read a story, give some back rubs, listen to them chat about what’s on their mind, tell them you enjoyed being with them today.
Day 3. Hug it out
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” -Virginia Satir
Are you hugging enough? Physical contact is so important. Make it your focus for today to make sure everyone is getting enough.
“There are studies showing that touch signals safety and trust, it soothes. Basic warm touch calms cardiovascular stress. It activates the body’s vagus nerve, which is intimately involved with our compassionate response, and a simple touch can trigger release of oxytocin, aka “the love hormone.” – Dacher Keltner, Hands On Research: The Science of Touch
Day 4. The Real Christmas Present
Much more than gifts, our children just want us. To be with them, to be truly present. It’s also impossible to be 100% present all day long! But we can intentionally carve out some time daily when we are able to do that. Find space in your day today where you can put everything aside and just be with your children in their world.
Day 5. Chat to your partner
When the kids are in bed tonight, have a chat with your partner about them. If you’re a single parent, can you call a trusted friend or family member for a chat? It’s so helpful to have someone else listen to your thoughts and help you with any problems you might be facing. If you have a partner it’s also really important to always be talking and helps you stay on the same page. Being intentional about your choices is definitely part of connected parenting.
How are you both feeling as parents? What are you doing really well? What are you struggling with? How are each of your children going right now? Where do they need your support? Chat about anything on your mind.
Day 6. Connect Over Dinner
Dinner is a great time to chat. Start up some dinnertime conversations tonight. We like to ask each other what our favourite part of the day was. They also like to be asked ‘when did you feel happy/sad/scared/joyful/worried/safe?’, ‘what are you grateful for today?’, and similar questions. And they love when we all take turns saying one thing we love about each person. Make dinner time really connecting with these sorts of conversations.
Day 7. Tell a Story
Our kids are always asking us to tell them stories about when we were their age. They are their absolute favourite kinds of stories. They love to hear what we were like at their age, what we did, how we felt, etc. I think it’s really connecting to realise your parents were once children too and they felt and experienced a lot of the same things as you do. Tell your children a story about you when you were a child today!
Day 8. Say Yes
Do you sometimes get into the habit of just saying ‘no’ for no good reason? Yeah, me too. It’s just easier sometimes, you don’t have the time, you’re not in the mood for mess… there are a million reasons to say no. It’s probably pretty disheartening to always be hearing ‘no’ though. Today, when you feel the urge to say ‘no’, take a minute to ask yourself if it’s for a legitimate reason, or more out of habit? Find opportunities to say ‘yes’ instead. Some of the best moments happen when you say yes. Discover what you might be missing.
Day 9. Read Together
One of my favourite ways to connect is to read aloud with my kids. Even older kids who can read often enjoy snuggling up and being read to. Read some books to your children today!
Day 10. Create Together
Create something together today. Maybe a Christmas craft, some painting, or baking in the kitchen together. Join in and create alongside your children.
Day 11. Offer Help
We all want our children to be helpful and contribute, so we are often asking them to do things. Which is totally reasonable! That’s what being part of a family is all about. And isn’t it so lovely when someone just helps you out with something that is normally your responsibility without you having to ask? Model that today. Help them with something they are usually expected to do on their own, just because. Everyone likes to feel taken care of, even when they are big enough to do some things themselves.
Day 12. Delight In Them
“When a child walks in the room, your child or anybody else’s child, do your eyes light up? That’s what they’re looking for.” — Toni Morrison
Today, whenever your child speaks to you, light up for them. Let them see your love by how you look at them. When they want your attention, as much as you possibly can, turn and look them in the eye like you are so pleased to see them and absolutely can’t wait to hear what they have to say.
So often our children are talking to the backs of our heads while we load the dishwasher, cook dinner, or check our phones, etc. Today, try to remember to show them with your attention and face how much you enjoy their company.
Day 13. Laugh
“For people who are laughing together, shared laughter signals that they see the world in the same way, and it momentarily boosts their sense of connection. Perceived similarity ends up being an important part of the story of relationships.” Sara Algoe
Find a way to laugh together today. It’s fun, and brings you closer together. Watch a funny movie, do something silly, tell jokes, etc.
Day 14. Start a Journal
Last year I started a journal with each of my older girls and it’s so awesome! We write to each other and leave it on their pillow to find and reply. It’s a safe space to write whatever you want, with the rule that no one else but us will read it. As they get older there may be times where some things are harder to talk about face to face, so I wanted to make sure we already had somewhere that we could keep the communication flowing. If your children are not writing yet, you could draw your thoughts and feelings instead.
Day 15. Connect Before You Request
When you need to ask your child a question, or to do something today, take a second to connect with them first. Sit down next to them and ask what they’re up to. When we’re busy we often try to rush them through things. This leads to difficulties when it looks like they aren’t ‘listening’ when really they were just in the middle of something. When you respect that, things go much more smoothly. Connect first, then request.
Day 16. Let Them Feel
Be extra mindful to make space for all feelings today. Kids have BIG feelings, likely every day, and that’s ok! Be extra conscious of not rushing them out of their feelings today.
Day 17. Take a Walk
Take a walk around the block if you can. Go at their pace and let them lead the way. No agenda. Just enjoy it together.
Day 18. Wrestle Time
Engage in some rough play today! It’s a great way to release stress, get some more physical connection, let out energy, and have fun! Kids love it. Just make sure you start with talking about consent, and the importance of checking in and making sure everyone is having a good time, along with signs that someone isn’t enjoying themselves. If anyone says ‘stop’, everyone has to stop immediately. Then go for it! It’s a great way to connect. The bed or trampoline are great places for rough play.
Day 19. Play a Game
Play a game as a family. A board game, hide-and-seek, charades. Playing together builds connection.
Day 20. Tell Them What You Love
We say ‘I love you’ a lot, but today let’s focus on why. Tell each of your children something you love about them. Be specific and focus on their individuality.
Day 21. Be Spontaneous
Surprise the kids with something spontaneous today! A trip to somewhere fun, ice cream for breakfast, whatever! Something you know they’ll love but won’t expect.
Day 22. Dance Party
Have a dance party! Particularly useful when the mood in the house needs a reset. Dance out any stress or tension.
Day 23. Listen
Ask your child about something they’re interested in today and really listen. Everyone is different and is interested in different things. Sometimes it’s easy to tune out when your child starts telling you all the details about something they’re into that you aren’t particularly interested in. Make some time today to really hear what they have to say. Even if you’re not into the subject, seeing them light up when chatting about what they love is so beautiful.
Day 24. Thank Them
Today, take time to notice something your child has done that deserves thanks. Thank them sincerely and make sure you let them know why you appreciate it so much.
Day 25. Share Their Joy
Merry Christmas! Slow down and enjoy the day. Try to see Christmas through your children’s eyes. How wonderful and magical!
I hope your advent has been beautifully connecting! Maybe you’ve even formed some habits that you find helpful that will continue on. Thank you for joining me! Merry Christmas from my family to yours.
I’d love to hear your experience! Leave me a comment and be sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram too! Use the hashtag #connectedadvent2020 if you share about your experience so that I can see!