December 22, 2020

How to make meaningful family connections this holiday season

We made it! The kids are off for winter break and the holidays are finally here. But with new social restrictions and fewer local events, it seems we’ll all be staying a little closer to home this holiday season.

This holiday season, are you looking at ways to create meaningful connections with your immediate family? If you’ve struggled to communicate and connect with your family this year, know that you’re not alone. Parents, grandparents, and other caregivers have all shared with us the challenges they’ve been facing this year; discussing the pandemic, current social climate, and other global events with our children is not a simple task.

As many of you begin to hunker down and stay close to home this holiday season, we recognize there may be some anxieties around building stronger connections with your family, finding activities to do at home, and creating new holiday traditions. That’s why we met with our founder and education visionary Missy Jena to discuss how to use calmversation to address some of those holiday concerns.

Here’s how you can use calmversation this holiday season to create more meaningful connections with your family:

How do I talk to my kids about the changes in the holidays this year?

This is by far the most common question we get. Like you, kids are seeing the news and hearing others talk about the pandemic for the past 10 months or more. They, too, are dealing with a lot of change in their lives, from how they go to school, socialize with their friends, to how they participate in their favourite extracurriculars. These are all important things to keep in mind when letting them know that the holidays are going to look a little bit different this year as well.  

When talking to your kids about the changes, be open and honest. Let them know that you understand any anxieties, concerns, and frustrations around the restrictions this year, and will find new holiday activities that you can still do together as a family. Focus on staying positive about it and reassure them that it’s not forever it’s for now.

How can I help my 7 yr old daughter cope with the changes this holiday season?

Helping our children cope with any changes in life starts with empathy. Be empathetic and validate their feelings by reassuring them that they are not alone in the way they are feeling.

Let’s try an activity! Have everyone write down all the things they are grateful for and were positive, fun experiences in 2020. Use sticky notes, or write them on small pieces of paper and put them in a jar. When everyone’s done, take turns sharing what was written. This helps us stay focused on the positive, happy parts of the year and look ahead to the new year.

My 12 yr old daughter doesn’t want to do “family stuff.” How can we get her engaged?

Pandemic or not, twelve is a special age for children. Teens are starting to search for their independence, and sometimes, that means hanging out with parents can seem uncool. 

One of the best ways to connect with pubescent children might be to let them choose something to do with you. Even if it’s watching their favourite movie or show with them, empathetically ask them what they want to do and that might be enough to empower them to find something you’ll both enjoy together.

My son is asking if Santa has to wear a mask and self-isolate after going into our homes. What do I say?

This generation’s children are quite receptive. They understand mask-wearing and self-isolation, and they’re starting to wonder what this means for Santa this year. But this is where you can get creative! 

You could say:

  • Santa was one of the first people to get the vaccine. 
  • Santa wears a mask and has a big bottle of sanitizer in his sleigh to clean his hands after each house.
  • Santa will use his magic to make the presents appear under the tree this year so he doesn’t have to come in the house. 

I’m a teacher with 2 young kids at home. I’m exhausted! How can I keep them entertained when I have no energy left?

First of all, we want to acknowledge all you’ve been doing to support both your students and your own children at home this year – so thank you! We get that you’re probably looking forward to some much-needed personal time – and you deserve it! – but also want to spend quality time with your kids.

Here are some ideas you could try to ensure you get to do both:

  • Set-up a table of craft supplies and let your kids create their own festive decorations, while you sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee in your PJs. 
  • Set aside certain times of the day for family activities, and other times for everyone to explore their own interests or chill out independently.
  • Take turns with a spouse or caregiver so you each get some alone time to relax, while still knowing your kids are happy and entertained.

What creative activities can I plan with my family this season?

Even though the holidays are going to be a bit different this year, we can take this as an opportunity to create new family traditions and memories:

  • Instead of going to the Stanley Park Christmas train, do a drive or walk through your neighbourhood and look at all the festive lights.
  • Instead of a big dinner with extended family, do a candlelight dinner with everyone’s favourite finger foods.
  • Dress up in your PJs and cuddle on the couch for a Christmas-themed movie marathon… with popcorn, of course!

The most important reminder this holiday season is to find new, safe ways to spend quality time with your family, but also, to find some downtime for yourself too. You can’t support your children if you’re burnt out. 

For a little extra support this holiday season, we at calmversation have created the Family Care Kit in response to concerns from parents and caregivers, like the ones in this article.

Alongside day-to-day parenting responsibilities, this year, parents have also had to deal with the added pressures from a global pandemic and new social restrictions. The Family Care Kit is a free pdf booklet full of resources, activities, and discussion prompts to help parents and caregivers create more meaningful connections with their children with calmversation.

Based on five core themes of Ideas & Inspiration, Communication, Emotions, Learning, and Problem-Solving, the Family Care Kit is designed to promote calm, compassion, and creativity at home.

Download the Family Care Kit now for instant access and find new activities, games, and more to engage with your family this holiday season. 

In addition to the Family Care Kit, calmversation founder Missy Jena also hosts live Q&A sessions to further address your questions and concerns. Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram for more resources on how to bring calmversation into the home.

The Family Care Kit has been generously funded by the Canadian Red Cross and the Government of Canada.

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