The Gift of Togetherness

December 16, 2011

By Kids in Crisis TeenTalk Counselors

Making connections requires something we’re all short of – time. Adults and children alike are dealing with unprecedented levels of stress and demands on our time. The holidays are no different; in fact, they’re one of the year’s most stressful periods. Visions of sugarplums become ‘to do’ lists and happy holiday memories become as elusive as Santa and his elves.

Despite the crazy pace of the holidays, it is the perfect time to connect with our children, to devote time to peeking beneath the surface of things. Time together can establish a stronger relationship and, at the same time, help identify issues and concerns before they may become a problem. As a New Year begins, there’s no better time to develop a stronger relationship with our kids. So how can the holidays be merry and bright, rather than frantic and short-tempered? How can you turn jam-packed days into the chance to reconnect with your adolescent?

Begin by taking two things off your own “to do” list. Maybe it’s making only two kinds of cookies, rather than a bakery’s worth. Or perhaps it’s skipping the annual holiday card mailing or attending a holiday party. Your call. Take some of that reclaimed time to make a meaningful connection with your child through one or some of these easy, cost-effective ideas:

  • Pick an area hiking trail, in your community or a nearby state park. Turn off cell phones and hit the ground for a walk, perhaps collecting natural decorations for your home. While walking and collecting, have a casual conversation with your children, catching up on school, activities, friends and other things that are important to them.
  • Set aside an afternoon or evening to tackle something together at home: wrapping presents for extended family, trying a new holiday recipe, decorating the outside of your home. Shut off your phones and TV; instead, play background holiday music or no music at all.
  • Go back to basics and make time for game night. Try an old-fashioned board game or make up your own holiday-themed game of Pictionary or Charades.
  • Revisit an old family tradition that may have slipped away amidst a busy life. Maybe it’s making a paper chain for the Christmas tree, making latkes together or attending an area carol sing or holiday concert.

It’s important for our children to see us manage our stress, worries and anxiety in a productive and healthy way. When they see us making time for our families and making connections a priority, we are modeling the behavior we hope they will demonstrate when they are stressed or simply figuring out the important things in life.