It seems like the countdown to the holidays to Christmas begins earlier every year. And it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the planning and preparation involved in creating a perfect holiday experience for your kids.

For most families, this holiday stress can overshadow the very purpose of the holiday season. It’s a time to express love to our family, neighbors and friends, spread good cheer near and far and give back to those who are less fortunate. It’s a time to reflect on all that makes your life fulfilling.

One way to do this is to practice being mindful.

Mindfulness has emerged as a popular practice in the last several years being taught to executives, athletes and even children. Through mindfulness, we have the opportunity to teach our children how to be kind to others, open-hearted, and at peace with themselves. What better time to teach your children about mindfulness than during this holiday season?

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. You can be mindful with your kids by staying present and fully engaged in the activities that you do together. Here are five ways to practice mindfulness as a family this holiday season from Dr. Sheethal Reddy, a working mom of a 3-year-old boy and an 8-month-old baby girl, and clinical psychologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life:

Get Messy in the Kitchen

Of course, it would be easier (and faster!) to make a perfect holiday meal without the distraction of kids running around. At the same time, the best memories are the unexpected ones. Pick an easy and quick recipe that the kids can help with like these cornbread muffins. They love to help mix and stir ingredients. And, yes, it may get a little messy, but it’s worth it to see how proud they are when you serve their dish at the holiday dinner.

Get Outside

Georgia’s mild winters enable us to enjoy the great outdoors year round. Leave the cell phones and tablets inside and spend some time collecting leaves, throwing a football or just taking a walk or in-town hike with the kids.

Break Bread Together

Take time to appreciate the good food and good company a family meal offers (without the distractions of the TV, social media, etc.) Encourage conversation and show kids you’re present and undistracted by fully listening when they talk.

Have Fun

Intentionally plan activities and adventures for the holiday break for the whole family to enjoy together instead of killing time until school starts back.

Let it Go

The most important thing at the holidays is to practice self-compassion and not beat yourself up for things you didn’t do, or that didn’t go exactly as planned. You’ll be late to activities, and everyone will understand. Your table might not look exactly like the Pinterest image you were aiming for, but your kids and guests won’t even notice. Remember that during the holiday season the days are long but the months are short. Enjoy what you can and let the rest go.

The best way to teach children about practicing mindfulness and gratitude is through role modeling. Showing them that you can be present with them (that means no furtive glances at your phone under the table!) encourages the same behavior when they interact with their peers.

So this holiday season, instead of spending every spare moment worrying that your holiday decorations are Pinterest-worthy or that your Instagram post of your Christmas dinner is #perfect, set aside some time to engage with your friends and family in more meaningful ways.

Have a Mindful and Happy Holiday!

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