It's funny how certain things in life can take on different meanings depending on how we look at them... or how polar opposites can combine for the perfect effect. Like the Chocolate Cranberry Banana Bread recipe I developed for Sneakz earlier this week... as they exist naturally, chocolate is bitter, cranberries are tart, and bananas are sweet. All have different flavor profiles and all are uniquely different, but combine them together and they form the perfect flavor combination that everyone can enjoy!
As the holidays approach, I can't help but think about how similar that Chocolate Cranberry Banana Bread is to this time of year. Some people get so excited about the holidays and all the celebrations and time with family. While others dread the time with family, and the stress and anxiety that can sometimes come along with all the busyness. And then there are people like me who are somewhere in between. I love this time of year and the joy and hope that it brings, but I also find myself overwhelmed and stressed out to the max if I'm not careful. Just like everything in life, we have to be intentional about our actions and our plans this time of year.
So here's three main ways our family remains joyful during the holidays:
- Focus on giving not receiving. I fully realize this sounds cliche and typical, but to truly focus on giving, I think we have to look at all areas of our lives. Yes, we need to look at helping others through physical gifts and donations, but focusing on giving also means giving of our time. What are we committed to this holiday season? What events are you going to? If we find ourselves overwhelmed and too busy, my husband and I like to take a step back and evaluate the things we have on our calendar... which activities will benefit others, and which activities are solely for our own benefit. Want to guess the things that get cut from the schedule first? Make an effort to focus your time on activities that will help others this year. Show your kids what it means to give back and love others in a real and tangible way.
- Put the phones down. Any mom can attest to the fact that the second your phone comes out, your kids either suddenly decide to have a meltdown or want to play on it. And with kids out of school for the holidays, there is the potential for a lot of down time at home. My husband also usually gets about 10-12 days off between Christmas and New Years, so we have a lot of lazy family mornings... which sounds all nice and relaxing, but usually means our girls get bored and have some pretty epic meltdowns. We both notice, however, that when our phones are away, our girls are better behaved and happier. (I'll be the first to admit that I am the worst about being on my phone when my kids are around. With an online business, I find myself on it far too often.) We have to be intentional and purposeful in doing this. I read a quote recently that said "today will taste far better as a memory tomorrow"... let's let our memories be focused and real, not distracted and distant.
- Let your kids help in preparations. In our house, most of the preparations involve food (big surprise, I know, ha!). This Chocolate Cranberry Banana Bread has super simple preparation instructions and is a great recipe to let the kids help in the kitchen. Let them scoop, pour, and stir as much as they want, and watch their faces light up with pride that they got to help. It's pretty foolproof, I promise. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does! It's a also a great way to occupy your time while the kids are out of school. instead of TV.
These three ways to stay joyful during the holidays, especially with young kids around, have been so crucial to our family, and I pray you find them helpful. If you try the Chocolate Cranberry Banana Bread, please shoot us a message and let us know what you thought, and how your kids helped in the kitchen!