December is an exhausting month. Buying, cooking, planning, prepping, etc., wears you out before you even begin.
So I want to take a minute to tell you something: You don’t need to do all of this.
This is not a simple platitude to calm you down. It is truth you need to hear now and again.
My message to you is: simplify. It’s good to say “no” to family and friends who want to celebrate with you and go have a little fun with your kids. You need some refreshment and they need to hear you laugh a little. I can assure you that what every one of your kids — whether boys, girls, teens, or toddlers — wants this Christmas is a moment of fun with you. How do I know?
Because your kids have told me. Over the past 30 years, they have said things about you that would knock your socks off. Like: you worry too much, you work too hard, you laugh too little, and you obsess about your weight for no good reason. Your kids know you and guess what? They like you.
Kids love it when you are relaxed and aren’t constantly running errands.
Yes, they do. They like you probably more than you like yourself. Did you know that? They don’t care that the house is messy, that you got a raise at work, that you had a fight with a coworker, or that you can’t stand your mother-in-law. They like you because of who you are!
And they just want a little more of you.
While you fuss over what to buy, what kind of cookies to make, who to invite for Christmas dinner or how to avoid Uncle Charlie’s nasty comments at the dinner table — your kids are simply hoping that, maybe, this year, you can relax a little. They love it when you are relaxed and aren’t constantly running errands, calling friends back on the phone, going to the gym at 6 a.m. or 7 p.m., worrying about what to give your mother or making sure that the Elf on the Shelf has moved again.
When it comes to their relationship with you, kids are extraordinarily simple people. They want to make a memory with you. Maybe you will sit and play Candyland with them for an hour. Perhaps the two of you will go to Dairy Queen, sit in the car, and enjoy an ice cream cone together.
Or, if they really hit the jackpot, maybe the two of you will go to dinner and out for the evening to roller skate, see a movie, or make cookies together at home.
The biggest problem with each and every one of us parents is this: We just don’t understand that someone — our son or daughter — would want us as much as they do. It seems unreasonable to us mothers that our kids would want time with us. Heck, many of us don’t even want to be with ourselves — so we wonder: Why would our kids?
Fathers, too, can’t wrap their minds around the notion that their son or daughter could care less what job they have, what car they drive or the clothes they wear and that the same son or daughter simply wants them. Time, chatter, a bike ride, a silly joke, laughter or a warm smile.
Let’s each take a lesson from our kids: Learn to see ourselves the way they see us. When we see mistakes, incompetence, insecurities, fat, flabby muscles, or failure, they see a mom or dad they want to love and be loved by. That’s it.
This Christmas, give your child what he or she really wants — a fun memory with you.
Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for 30 years. She is the author of the online course, “The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids,” which is part of The Strong Parent Project.