Creative Child

The Best Presence Money Can’t Buy

by Rebecca Eanes

Ask yourself just one question as this holiday season gets underway – are you operating from a place of joy of a place of stress? Whatever your answer is, your children are feeling it, too. A parent’s emotions have a strong impact on the emotions of their children and the environment they dwell in, so if you’re feeling stressed, it’s likely permeating throughout your home, negatively affecting the experience of the holiday season for your kids. You’re not alone. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season! You want to decorate beautifully, choose the perfect presents, bake all the goods, hit the hottest sales, and make an amazing holiday meal. Your heart is in the right place. You want to provide a grand and memorable holiday for your family, so you kick it into high gear to make it all happen. However, the result often is that you end up tired, frazzled, and overwhelmed, and that negativity swirls throughout your home even if it’s decorated beautifully and smells of vanilla spice cookies.

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It’s a bit ironic that we run ourselves ragged and spend way too much money to make our children happy when research shows that it’s experiences and connection that make children happy, not material things. Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, has been studying the question of money and happiness for over twenty years. He says “Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are a part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.” So, although our children may love the new toys for a little while, the experience of the season is going to stick with them much longer. This is why it’s important that we give them calmness, connection, and presence.

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Here are three solutions for lowering your stress, being present and purposeful, and providing a holiday experience that will fill your child’s heart with joy.

1. Create new family connecting rituals this season. Holiday traditions are meaningful to children. They create a sense of belonging and stability that kids need, and they carry those traditions with them throughout their lives, often passing them to their children. This season, be intentional about creating a couple of rituals or traditions that build it time together. This will provide time for you to slow down and be present with one another. Some ideas are watching Christmas movies, driving around town to look at lights and decorations together, reading a holiday-themed book each night before bed, building gingerbread houses, or baking and decorating cookies. Do these regularly throughout the season to keep your child’s cup filled.

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