The Christmas season usually brings an assortment of late night events – caroling, parties, more parties, get togethers with family, events at the church, Christmas programs, festivals, driving around to see the Christmas lights…
It all sounds so wonderful, but the reality is that all those late nights, high stimulation, and extra marshmallows in the hot chocolate can add up to some pretty overwhelmed kiddos.
Which usually means the holiday season might have some emotional turbulence.
And I don’t know about you, but there have been several occasions where I was so focused on having a ‘perfect’ family memory that when one of my children started throwing a tantrum due to exhaustion or hunger or their underwear being too tight???, I became seriously disappointed.
May I encourage you to right now just put the expectation in your heart that someone in your family at some point this month might have a meltdown?
It sounds crazy, but holding our holiday moments and our people before the Lord will help us keep our joy.
One practical way to do that is by deciding in advance how we are going to react to the meltdown.
When my kids start to have an outburst, I have often reacted in frustration or impatience (evidence HERE). I cannot stand the sound of whining! It’s like someone poking my ear drums with pine needles.
But do you know what the Lord showed me one day?
I might not be outwardly lying on the ground in the middle of Target flailing my arms, but in my spirit, I can be downright fussy. When the laundry pile grows as tall as the Christmas tree, I grumble. When my kids get sick, I complain. When I have to wake up early, I groan. Fa, la, la, la, la.
And do you know how the Lord reacts to my little tantrums?
Always with love.
So that is the goal with my kids. When they are falling apart, I am learning that the best method for rescuing them from the pit is to simply WRAP THEM IN A HUG.
Because empathy and compassion satisfies the soul.
When Happy Buddy got home from school a few weeks ago, he headed straight for the backyard to play basketball – something he does almost every day. But the second he got outside and set up with his scoreboard and ball, it started to rain.
My poor boy had been up late several nights in a row and then had just been through a super long day at school and a super long drive home in traffic. He just wanted to shoot some hoops!
Mother Nature had another plan, though, and Happy Buddy was not very happy about it. In fact, he was quite hysterical and while he was wailing so loud I thought for sure our neighbors might call Child Protective Services he made the comment that this was the “Worst Day of His Life.”
I initially got upset in my heart because I thought he was being wayyyyy too overdramatic and completely irrational. I wanted to say, “Roll with the punches, kiddo!” and “Be a man!” and “Suck it up, son!”
But I took my boy in my arms and gently held him as he cried. I whispered in his ear, “You had your heart set on that basketball game. You are so disappointed. It’s hard when things don’t go the way we planned.”
When our kids are exploding emotionally they are really crying out for a connection. Instead of pushing them away in anger, draw them in. Isn’t that what we want when we are upset about something?
It’s easy to forget that our kids are kids. They have not been on this planet very long. Their little world views are so tiny. It has taken me YEARS to be okay when things don’t go the way I want them to (and I still struggle with it daily – especially on days with high percentages of humidity).
I would imagine the same is true for you, too.
Yes, we must train them to “roll with the punches,” and to be grateful in all circumstances and look for the good and see what God has in store when life throws us a curveball, but we will not reach their hearts with a lack of compassion.
It is the Lord’s kindness that leads us to repentance, is it not?
So, my friends, this Christmas when you find your little one rolling under the Christmas tree in hysterics because they don’t want to wear the adorable Christmas outfit you bought for them, or they are crying while you are trying to have a ‘magical’ family outing to see the Christmas lights, or they are pitching a fit WHILE YOU ARE TAKING THE FAMILY CHRISTMAS CARD PHOTOS, smile and accept the reality and the joy and the crazy that is raising littles.
Wrap those small but powerful flailing arms in a big ole’ hug and you will find your Christmas Merry.
– Julie 🙂
*HERE is another practical article called “An Alternative View of Tantrums” that I thought was really great.