Surviving the Holidays w/ Mariah Joy

Originally printed in The Natural Mother Magazine

A Simple 4 Step Guide For Cultivating your Desired Holiday Experience, by Mariah Joy.


Step 1: Reflection

I invite you to ponder what experience you would like to have for the holidays.For now, completely toss the past, you have a clean canvas to paint your very own masterpiece on. What will it be? Focus on the way you want to feel during this season. Don’t focus on the specifics of all that you want to do. When we reminisce about the past we are conjuring up the way we felt. How do you want your children to feel when they remember this time as a child? When I remember the way my grandma’s house smelled on Thanksgiving it brings back feelings of warmth and love, belonging and joy. How do you want to feel during this season?

Step 2: Dedication

Now that you have clarity about the way that you want to feel, and the experience you want to have this holiday season, dedicate yourself to it. I come from a long line of aviators and we take our flight plans seriously; once you file a flight plan you stick to it. This is your flight plan!

What you just created in step one are your values for the holiday season. Write these words down, make them visible. You can use post-it notes or a white board, make a collage, craft a banner, or paint a sign! Keeping your values somewhere visible is very important to staying the course.

Step 3: Implementation

Great, you might say, I want to feel present, joyful, abundant, welcoming, loving, generous, kind, connected, and celebratory. And I’ve made this pretty little ditty to remind me, now what? Great question! As you move into the season ahead, each decision you make will be passed through your values.

One of my values during the holiday season is to feel abundant. If I purchase above and beyond my means will this make me feel abundant? There may be heaps of gifts that create the illusion of feeling abundant, but the underlying stress of knowing I’m tapped financially will color my experience and diminish my ability to feel joy, which is also a value. I might ask myself: in what other ways can I give? Giving brings the feeling of generosity and abundance. Can I give the gift of song by caroling? Can I give the gift of handmade art? Can I give the gift of warmth by donating blanks or helping at the food bank? How can I move through this season and feel abundant while staying true to my desire to not overextend and feel peace and joy, or exhausted and stressed? Be bold:say no if it’s not in alignment, say yes for that which is in full alignment.

Step 4: Planning for fallout

Lovely, you’re clear on your seasonal values, you have them posted and you are making decisions based on a commitment to stay alignment with these values. You are the creator of your desired experience. Congratulations! And…there will be holiday fallout, it’s inevitable. The anticipation and joy alone is enough to pretty much guarantee that we, and our children will feel off kilter and overextended at some point. SO how do we keep the peace-love-joy family experience with tired, cranky children and parents?

It’s here, in the face of meltdown or fallout, that the rubber meets the road in regards to sticking to our values. I’m guessing desire something along the lines of connection, family love, warmth, togetherness, happiness – something that implies a feel good experience for all. Am I right?

I’m going to share five powerful steps to managing conflict while moving towards a deeper connection. We are going to move through conflict without the use of shame, blame, manipulation, punishment, or yelling using Five Simple Steps to Move Through Conflict to Cooperation: the P.E.A.C.E. process, originally handed down to me by my mentor Jolette Jai, founder of the Jai Institute for Parenting.

This is our holiday gift to you.

 5 Simple Steps to Move through Conflict to Cooperation.

The P.E.A.C.E. Process

P – Pay Attention

This first step is all about getting present to your child in this moment. What is going on? Is she tired, hungry, over stimulated? Where is he in his development phase? What is the emotional climate of her surroundings?

E – Every Child’s Feelings and Needs are Respected

All behavior is our best attempt at getting out needs met. Keep this in mind we can cultivate respect for the full range of emotions. Feelings are never bad, or in conflict feelings are just feelings. The behavior that is being expressed is our child’s best attempt to get their needs met.

A – Allow Yourself, Self Empathy

We can respect our children’s feelings and needs but that doesn’t always make it easy to tolerate the expression of these feelings. Often, especially during the holidays, our children might trigger something deep in us. Feelings of our own that are unresolved. This step is all about allowing yourself to have your feelings, not to act on them. Quietly acknowledge to yourself, “This is hard, I feel stretched, annoyed, angry.” Give yourself a moment, in the eye of the storm, take a breath, and give yourself some love.

C – Care For Your Child With Empathy

What is empathy? Empathy is setting our own perspective aside and getting in the other person’s shoes. How is it through their lens? How does it feel to be your child right now? You might say to them, “It seems like you are really angry right now, is that right?” This is not the time to fix the situation; just let them feel that you get it. Don’t try to explain your side, only empathize with their experience. This step builds trust, and is the foundation for building emotional intelligence.

E- Explore a Solution Together

This takes place a good while after the big feelings have passed and your child’s brain in no longer held hostage by stress hormones. When connection is restored, cooperation flows. Focus on connecting with your child through empathy, you will then enjoy cooperation.

Wishing you and your family exactly the experience you most desire this holiday season!

Mariah Joy is a Conscious Parenting Guide working with parents, teachers and mentors to cultivate deeply connected, long lasting relationships with their children, and more peace and harmony in their homes and classrooms. Mariah is committed to living life in a partnership-with paradigm. She believes that the best parent is a thriving human; with this knowing her work with parents reaches deeply into, and beyond, the parent-child relationship to support thriving human beings. Find more about Maria at:

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