First came the last-minute shopping scramble.
Last Tuesday, in between clients and just hours before lighting the first candle for the eight days of Hanukkah, I ran to my favorite toy store to grab gifts for my kids. Luckily, the staff there is super-helpful and super-knowledgable, and I quickly found a few things I knew they'd love. Some books, a couple of puzzles, some very retro games. (We keep it all pretty low-key.) I was in a rush to get back to work, so I did a little DIY next to the gift-wrapper guy so that I could get out of there faster.
By the time I got home at 5:30, I had regrets about a few of the things I'd bought. "They won't really like this," I thought. "They'll never play with that. Why didn't I go shopping earlier? Why didn't I plan?!" This negative chatter ran relentlessly through my head.
Then came the homework scramble. It all needed to get done before they left the house at 6:15, which meant our time for celebrating was going to be short.
Then the candle scramble. Yep, I forgot to buy candles. After we dug up a box of candles left over from last year, and got them set up in no less than six (6!) menorahs, the time had arrived to light.
We turned the lights low, struck the match, and ... magic. With that woosh of the flame coming to life, we ignited a moment of quiet presence. A moment where we stood together as a family and came together in the blessing of light. We sang, we hugged, we kissed, we even did a little dance around the kitchen island where the menorahs sat.
For this moment, the rest didn't matter. The monologue in my head melted away. The scramble of the day subsided. In the long run, being present was the best gift I could give my children.
Hanukkah is over now, but the long winter break stretches ahead. With ADHD in the mix, I'm sure my family's time together won't be all blessings and light, but I'm inspired to seek out more of those moments of calm and joyful connection.
This is what I wish for you during this winter break. Amid the holiday chaos, find moments to just stop and take a breath and connect.
Every family's idea of fun is different, but here are a few random ideas for how to slow the scramble and cultivate joyful connection over the break ...
Play games together. I'm a big fan of cooperative board games, but if even if you need to enter the world of your child's video games, try it out. Ask questions that help you see their fantasy world through their eyes.
Dance together. Crank up the music, grab the hairbrush microphone and get silly.
Sit around a fire together. Reminisce about good times you've had. Tell stories of your childhood.
Listen to an audio book or an interesting or fun podcast together. Use it as a jumping off point for conversation.
Stop and observe together. When you're out and about, stand still for a minute. Ask everyone to look around and see what they see. Then ask everyone to notice something about themselves. Are they excited? Calm? Are their hands cold? Are their feet warm?
And if you are finding connecting with your child difficult, take time to connect with yourself. Breathe deeply. Put aside all that negative parenting chatter for a moment.
I know it's not always easy.
I'd love to hear your ideas, too. What's worked for your family? I welcome your comments.
Wishing you much love and light in this holiday season ...
P.S. Back by popular demand, the next Calm & Connected: Parenting Children With ADHD/Executive Function Challenges series starts in January. Be one of the first FIVE to sign up for the whole series and you'll get a BIG BONUS: 2 hours of private coaching time with me. Not ready to sign up for the whole shebang yet? Sign up today for SESSION 1 ONLY, and register for the rest later.