Mothers, particularly, are notorious for the amount of guilt they carry around. It starts right from the birth… the natural birthers feel bad that their babies have squashed heads; the caesarians feel bad that they couldn’t not cut-it! Then the working moms feel guilty for not being with their kids and the stay-at-homers feel guilty because their kids are driving them nuts and they wish they were elsewhere, and that they’re not adding to the household income; and the half day moms feel bad because they’re neither properly contributing at work or at home. And on and on it goes.
And then come the holidays… Just to compound the guilt a little, the working moms wish they could take more time off, the ones at home wish they could have a break, everyone feels bad because they don’t have the cash to do all the million holiday activities that are out there and screaming for enrolment.
At some point we’ve got to all just STOP and accept that we are good enough, we are doing enough and our kids are going to be ok, whether they do the vacation cooking/drama/tennis/pottery class or not.
And the real crux of the matter is that, as with most things, it is the quality and not the quantity of time with our children that really counts. If you have 5 minutes or 5 hours with them, make sure that in that time you really connect, on their level, focusing on what they want to do, meeting them where they’re at. Switch off your phone, clear your mind of the myriad other things you need to do, and simply connect.
And holiday activities with the kids do not need to break the bank – I bet that your children would be just as happy with a picnic in the park, a visit to a friend, or riding their bikes up and down the road if it meant that they got your full attention for the duration of whatever it was you decided to do together.
Let’s all take a break from the guilt this holidays and just do the best we can and let ourselves off the hook when we can’t. As I always say to my clients, it’s about baby steps – if all you can manage is 5 minutes of playing Barbies on the floor, then it’s 5 minutes more than yesterday, and these little moments of presence with our children add up and make for the most special holiday memories they’ll have.