Here are some ideas to enhance family wellbeing and togetherness and encourage compassion in your home this Christmas holiday.
It's not about doing everything, it’s all about finding those small moments that are genuine, connected and meaningful for your family so if you are working for much of the break just find a few minutes here and there and don't be hard on yourself!
Come together to decide on a charity that you would like to donate to this year. Think about what has made this year difficult in particular and who might need extra funding. If you can’t give financially, maybe volunteering or handing out coffee and chatting to the homeless locally would work. Giving to others is good for both the person receiving your contributions but also releases happy hormones in the brain giving everyone involved a hit of positivity.
Snuggle and watch a film
There is nothing better than snuggling up in the dark and cold afternoons to watch a film together. Grab a duvet that envelopes you all and cook up some warm popcorn and hot chocolate. Take turns to choose films in order to all have a say or even better collaborate, compromise and choose one together.
Wrap up warm and get outside together for a walk to a nearby park or field. The crisp air and bright blue skies will increase your vitamin D intake, which is super important for wellbeing and in the UK we don’t get enough, especially in autumn and winter due to low UV levels, so soak up all you can without freezing! Read Eliza Flynn's article on How to make the most of the outdoors.
Make a list of things to do
Make a list of the things you would like to do individually and as a family. If you are working right up until or through Christmas these activities might be best placed in the evenings/days off. Examples may include a parent wanting to go to a nearby exhibition or a child wanting to see a certain friend. Working together shows consideration and respect for each other's chosen hobbies and interests.
Create a set of family rules
At the beginning of the holidays create a set of expectations as a family. This will help you to get along when all at home together. Try to frame these rules/expectations positively so for example instead of “Do not shout at each other” it could read “We use kind voices”. This sets you all off to a positive and transparent start to your two weeks together.
If you are working from home whilst the children are off of school then explain clearly what the set up for each day is and what this means for your availability. This will ensure that the children are clear about what times you will be available to play and when they will have to see to themselves. You could even create a simple sign that you can put up when you are available and when you are working so that the little ones can see your availability clearly. Be sure to inform smaller children that of course you are always around for emergencies!
Start your days with gratitude, sharing what you are thankful for. Taking turns to share gratitudes over breakfast or writing them on a post-it to place on your wall/door are both great ways to start your day! The post-it option will allow you to read over your gratitudes again which can release happy hormones all over again! See an example of our Gratitude Wall.
Mindfulness before eating
Doing a short mindfulness practice before you start your dinner can set you up for a calm meal time. Once you have modelled a short mindfulness session your children may want to lead some too. The mindfulness session may be as follows…
“Place your feet flat on the ground. Close your eyes or lower your gaze. Take a deep breath in and smell the foods around you. What happens to your body when you smell your food? Think about how you feel about your food? What is your stomach doing? Is it making any noises? Now open your eyes and look at what is on your plate, look at the colours and textures. What do you notice? Now pick up your knife and fork and dig in!”
Make paper chains
Paper chains are a lovely way to connect and really simple to make. Using some coloured paper (or old magazines to be super planet friendly!) cut strips of paper and glue them together. You can write something you are thankful for on each strip. For more simple activity ideas please see our Play section.