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Surviving the holidays with your family ;^)

This information comes to us courtesy of Dr. D Robitalle, MD, who was kind enough to share it with me this past year after attending one of my “Simplify the Season” workshops.

She mailed me a handout that she makes available to her patients, particularly around the holidays.  The information seems to me to be directed primarily at single adults with substance abusers in their family of origin (not uncommon) but is applicable in many ways to any family gathering.  My three favorite tips from the handout:

1.  Don’t argue with a drunk or unrecovered anything.  You can always leave and take a walk, drive, or whatever you need to do to take care of your inner child. [Katie says: or your ACTUAL child!]  When you return, everyone will pretend that nothing happened anyway.  [haha!]

2.  You are separate from your family and your desires are important.  It’s OK to take care of yourself and your needs.  [Katie adds: Your children’s needs are also important–perhaps more so than the needs/demands of the adult generation–so don’t let Grandma or Aunt Mabel guilt/shame/whatever you in to minimizing your kids’ needs.]

3.  Confront unrealistic expectations.  [Katie adds: be very aware of your expectations, and those of your children & other loved ones.  Examine them and make conscious choices about those that you will CHOOSE to try to meet!  Be picky, and then be sure to communicate clearly with those affected.]

May your holidays be peaceful and loving~ 


The Best Gift Idea

Short and simple–the best gifts are often experiences, rather than things.

Most of the kids I know & work with don’t need any more THINGS.  They have too many already.  But what they do need, and want, are more connected, loving, fun, adventurous, memorable experiences–especially experiences with their parents.

Next time you have a gift-giving opportunity, consider giving an experience.  You can pre-pay, put the gift card, description, or photo of the experience in a box and wrap it up, just like a toy.  But when your sweet child opens it up, they get the promise of horseback riding, or a trip to the ice cream shop, or a special Mommy & Me spa day, or the guitar lessons they’ve been asking for instead of one more item to own & store.  Those are truly gifts that last.

PS.  Have you read this book?  It’s a hilarious kids’ book that makes fun of having too many toys.
PPS.  Check that book out from the library instead of buying it!  Otherwise this post ends up sending mixed messages.  ;^)

One more note:  What experiences have you given your kids before?  Leave a comment and share some of your great experience-gift-ideas.  Here’s a few more to get us started:

  • music lessons
  • pottery-painting together
  • ride in horse-drawn carriage in downtown Austin
  • dinner out at fancy (very “grownup”) restaurant
  • pedicures together
  • laser tag with a couple of friends
  • daytrip to a cool mountain biking park
  • daytrip to the dinosaur park

What kids really want for the holidays

I originally posted this last year, but it’s such good info, I wanted to post it again this year…


In their book Unplug the Christmas Machine, authors Jo Robinson and Jean Staeheli say that kids want the following 4 things for Christmas:

  1. A relaxed and loving time with their family.
  2. Realistic expectations about gifts
  3. An evenly paced holiday season
  4. Reliable family traditions

Notice it doesn’t say a ‘Wii’, or a trampoline, or Thomas the Tank Engine, or or or…  Sure, they do want the specific toys they are asking for, but deep down they also want and need the 4 items above even more. 

Simplify the Season Workshop–this weekend, Nov 9th.

Do the holidays cause you stress?  Too much travel/spending/obligation, and not enough meaning, fun, and connection?  Do you ever feel let-down after the presents are opened?  Clarifying and refocusing on your values and priorities can make Christmas more memorable, rejuvenating, and rewarding. This workshop will cover:

  • What’s not working for you now
  • Identifying your true values and priorities
  • Christmas, aka your part-time job
  • Gift-giving, family issues, obligations, traveling, conflict and communication.
  • 3 steps towards fixing things

Two workshop times are offered: Both are this Sunday, November 9th.  Again, the workshops are totally free, but you must pre-register.  Childcare is available at both workshop locations.

1.  Nov 9th in the morning (9:45-10:45), Simplify the Season will be held at the First United Methodist Church downtown, with Paula Stiernberg as co-leader.  To register for the FUMC workshop, email: Laurie at fumcaustin dot org.

2.  November 9th in the afternoon, Simplify the Season will be sponsored by the Center for Inquiry, and held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church.  To register for the CFI workshop, click here.

Past workshop participants had this to say about Simplify the Season:
“It really helped me stop and be more conscious of what we really want from the holiday.” 
“Refreshing & enlightening!

What Kids Really Want for Christmas

In their book Unplug the Christmas Machine, authors Jo Robinson and Jean Staeheli say that kids (deep-down… sometimes way deep-down) want the following 4 things for Christmas, and I definitely agree.

  1. A relaxed and loving time with their family.
  2. Realistic expectations about gifts
  3. An evenly paced holiday season
  4. Reliable family traditions

What a list, huh!?! Surely this is a “Christmas list” that any parent would love to get!

Note: The book (Unplug the Christmas Machine) is a great
one. Click on the link below to read more or to purchase it.  FYI, the
quote above is reprinted with permission from Alternatives for Simple
Living – – 800-821-6153.