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Are you in a panic at the thought of holiday chaos with your kids? You are not alone but with a great plan, you can have holiday fun and peace without the chaos.

In this episode, Carolina is getting the best tips from Parenting Coach Serena Rice to deepen your connection with your kids through the holidays! So if you are ready to leave the chaos behind, this episode was created for you!

What you’ll learn:
1:58 Why Serena chose to be a parenting coach
3:54 The struggle of parenting during the holidays and how to make it easier
6:48 A good tip to set routines
7:51 Why time and space are important for children
8:10 What is a feeling chart and how it helps children
13:59 What is coregulation
25:23 Non-violent communication and its importance
36:16 Serena’s plans for Christmas

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Professional bio
The Carolina Sotomayor Podcast is brought to you by Carolina Sotomayor and the Fertility Foundation.

Carolina Sotomayor is an Expert Womb Healer who helps women conceive by removing physiological blockages with Reiki. She is the host of the Carolina Sotomayor Podcast, a show that covers everything from fertility to postpartum to motherhood, and the creator of Fertility Foundation Collective, an online membership that helps women heal at their own pace to boost their fertility.

Carolina has served over 500 women from around the world to heal. She is passionate about helping women create their families. As a result, there are over 60 reiki babies in the world.

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Full episode transcript:

Hi, I’m Carolina, your podcast host, an expert Ricky Womb healer, and today is an episode that you must listen to. Today we’re talking to a good friend and an amazing human, Serena Rice, how to make parenting easier through the holidays. Serena, thank you so much for being here.

Thank you for having me. I’m so excited. Where are you calling in from? I’m calling in from Seattle, Washington. , it’s on my bucket list. . I went there one time to get certified in birth Reiki. Mm-hmm. . And I wrote on a ferry and it was like one of the most profound moments of my life. , literally, I had dreams of always go on a ferry.

And anyway, I know, but literally when I rode the ferry after I was done with my certification, it was the first time in my whole life I felt. Oh wow. Yeah, it was a very, very important, like I always talk about that moment. Seattle is on our list for a spring break actually. Huh. So if we come, I’ll let you know.

Interesting. . So you’re parenting coach. I am. Why are you a parenting coach? I’m a parenting coach because I grew up in foster care and I had so many different parents raising me with different parenting styles, and I’ve grown to develop in such a unique way. , that is because of my, how I was raised.

There’s a lot of different things that I wish I would’ve learned how to do. Like express my emotions, learn how to communicate a little bit better, learn how to cook. Lots of different things that I was not taught in my childhood that I wish I would’ve been taught. And so now I’m a parenting coach because I wanna teach parents how to do certain things, teach their children certain things so that when they get to our age, They’re equipped for their adult life.

Now, when you say you’re our age, how old are you? Cause I’m 39. I know you’re not 39. Don’t do this.

I know. Okay, so. Peers as an adult. You’re talking about adult age? Yes. I’m 25. . I just, I’m 25. I’m young and alive. I talk about you and I think you’re a big deal. I think that’s a big why. I think when you’re choosing a parenting coach. I’ve hired a couple. I think it’s important to know. and resonate with the parenting coach’s background.

Mm-hmm. and why? Because a lot of parenting is a very intimate thing. It’s a very personal thing, and the values that go into it are so important. I don’t think it’s not every parenting coach like support or leads with every style. They usually specialize in a certain style of parenting. So I have always loved your mission and your why, and I just really respected your business and just what you stand for.

I just think you’re such a big deal and if you need to find her, go watch all of her TikTok cause they’re binge worthy. Watch it like it’s Netflix. Stay on. So Serena, you were the perfect person and the one person I wanted to talk about this with is how to make parenting easier through the holidays.

Mm-hmm. , I’m a mama of one. I’m a boy. And let me tell you, sometimes holidays can be pure hell yeah. And I’ve made a lot of mistakes. So the number one thing you and I have discussed is routines. Mm-hmm. . And how do they play out in the holidays? Because I think sometimes they go out the window. What is your opinion on this?

Yes, and so I always love having routines for children in general, even when you’re not in the holidays, because children, they need something to look forward to. Children are not really good with surprises unless it’s like a birthday surprise, you know? And so when we’re setting up our child for success, we wanna make sure that they, they know what’s coming next because if you hit them with something so urgent and immediate, , you know, you’re just asking for power struggles in that moment.

Going from, you know, one place to the next, there has to be some type of transition period. There has to be something to look forward to. So in order to prevent those challenges, setting up a routine, especially during the holidays where, you know, in the morning we do this, in the afternoon, we do this at nighttime, we do this, you’re setting up your child for success.

You’re setting up your home for success because. Setting up that space of this is what’s going to happen today. They know exactly what to look forward to. It’s not a surprise. This is what we do every day. This is what we do every week. They know what’s gonna happen. I think for the holidays, always a little bit older.

So the communication, and he talks like he’s a 50 year old man, but because he’s an only child and he’s around adults all the time, and I’m his mom, so . So he talks very differently than a normal five year old. We have family meetings. Mm-hmm. every week. And we also at the dining room table, and we literally have, Ollie brings his folder and we include him almost kinda like business planning meetings, like we’re planning our week, but we account him for like also the planning part.

Okay. Ollie, what do you have? And he was like, well, I go swimming. on Sunday. He like knows when he’s gonna do stuff. But I think, you know, part of routine is like if you have smaller children, small eight children, like they’ll either go to daycare or like school-aged children when you’re on holiday break, that normal routine of like waking up and dropping them off.

Mm-hmm. . It might be different if you’re a stay-at-home parent, but. For most people that I know are not stay-at-home parents, right? Like the majority of the population are in childcare when the childcare is closed because there’s a big shutdown period towards the end of the year with daycare and things like that, and they’re at home or they’re not in daycare.

What is like a good tip on routine? So you were mentioning like morning routine and setting expectations. Can there be like, so if they go from. There’s like, maybe it’s December 23rd, it’s our last year of school, and then it’s the 24th or the next day. Like how do you do the transition between, okay, we’re done for two weeks, was for school, we’re gonna be at home.

How do you go into this new routine? Because I don’t think it’s possible cuz they’re not going to school. How do you transition to this new routine or holiday? . Yeah. I really love your idea about sitting down and having a family meeting. There’s this huge need for autonomy, which is power or control for children.

They need to feel that sense of importance. They need to feel like they’re a part of, you know, adult stuff. Decision making. So sitting down with them and having, you know, a meeting where you’re mapping out this new routine. You know, what do you have for the routine? What would you like to do? What would you like to include in the routine?

And helping them map that out. I would also encourage you to, you know, there’s gonna be times where. Big feelings come out, maybe tantrums or power struggles. And so creating a time in space, which is different from a timeout, a time in is where I hate timeouts. , yeah. A time. And then you’re stupid. A cozy corner that’s full of like, Books and squishy toys.

And sensory toys and feeling charts. A cozy, Ooh, they can stick. Pause. What’s a feeling chart? A feeling chart. So like, you know, they have them on like Pinterest? No, I don’t know. You know, the ding chart? I don’t know. I’ve never heard of this. The, today I’m feeling this and it’s just like different emotions on like a piece of paper.

You know, they have them on Pinterest and I, I’ve never heard of this. That’s a really great. Yeah, I’m like, , why do every time chart you? So maybe every time I talk to you, I, my phone

maybe like, oh, almost like the doctor of like pain level, like, Like this is, are you in this much pain? I didn’t even think about that. And so when you’re sitting down and you’re mapping out a routine of, okay, this is what’s gonna happen the next couple weeks, or, you know, however long you want it to be, maybe this is your new permanent routine.

Include the child in the decision making as far as the routine goes, but also incorporate a time in space, a space where they can go when they’re feeling big emotions. Print off a feelings chart, which you can find on Pinterest. Today I’m feeling this so that they can sit with their emotions there. But the reason why I want you to include this in the routine is because there’s gonna be outbursts.

There’s gonna be times when your child is feeling emotions. And so incorporating that into the routine, even when the big emotions aren’t even present. Today, we’re gonna go to our time and space, even though we don’t have big emotion. Let’s practice using that. Let’s practice today at a specific time, whether it’s after dinner or after bath time.

We’re just gonna go sit in our cozy corner and read or do whatever we need to do to practice using that so that they know whenever those big emotions come up, you know that you have that cozy corner to go to. You know that you have that time in space. So consistency so that they know that it’s like, that’s our automatic response is like, I’m upset, I’m going to my cozy corner.

Our son doesn’t like to be alone. . Yeah. At all. Join them. Join them in that space. That’s so important. Mm-hmm. . So for our next one, our next point is transition. And you mentioned this, so technically what is a transition? Transitions is just making, going from one activity to the next as smooth as possible.

Children do not like to go from playing with toys to eating dinner or you know, playing with toys to taking a bath. And so how can we get them from this point to this point? , minimal challenges. And how do you suppose that? I think transitions are probably really hard for kids. Yeah. In general. But then we do our best.

But with holidays, I think that especially for traveling, they have a little bit less sleep, they have a little bit more sugar, a little bit. Too much simulation. So we encourage, like we do a timer, and then we also say goodbye. We use the terms, all right, so we’re gonna say goodbye to our blocks. Hmm, right?

So just letting you know, we have 15 minutes left here. Make sure you’re saying goodbye to your magnet tiles. magnet tiles are huge in our house, so make sure that you know, we’re gonna say goodbye to mi. in 30 minutes. So do your one last thing with so-and-so before we leave mm-hmm. . So like what is the one thing that they have to do?

We usually start with a 30 15 and then ten five two. Okay. It’s time to go. And then I still give ’em a couple extra minutes. But that has helped a lot. And I think also with transitions, . If we would do a normal transition on a normal non-holiday schedule at a park, I’d double it. Hmm. So if we do a 15 minute countdown on a normal basis, is what we normally do, I’d do 30 on a holiday.

Yeah. Because of all the extra variables of them being so hyped up, hes extra time. Yeah. I think every kid’s different, but having the opportunity, and you said a key word, autonomy. And I didn’t know how important that was until most recently. He said we recently canceled. He was in two sports. He was in TaeKwonDo and he was in swimming.

Mm-hmm. . And he complained consistently for four weeks. I don’t have any time to play. I don’t wanna go, and he would throw a fit and I thought, oh, okay. Let’s see how long this goes. He kept bringing up the conversation of, I don’t have any more time to play. He literally said, I’m told what to do all day long and I have no time to play anymore in preschool, they did play-based learning, so literally, He went from playing all the time and then playing with me right before he went into school, to now being told what to do all the time.

So we withdrew him in the move swimming to the weekend one thing, but knowing the autonomy piece and having transition is actually was affecting his happiness. . So like it’s bigger than you would think. I didn’t think it was a big deal. Just do what I say. No, this was affecting my kid in big, big happiness ways.

Like, so the transition was from school to home and then knowing like he was not gonna have to rush home. He wanted to stay home the rest of the night. Right? He’s a home buddy. But it was another level, a new opportunity for me to get to know my kid. So when we approached the holidays, this. It’s gonna be very different than we did it when he was two, three, and four.

Mm-hmm. . So co-regulation that goes back with like the big feelings and what matters, right? Yeah. You wanna talk about co-regulation? Yeah. So co-regulation is essentially when we let. Our children borrow our emotions, and so do you want your child to borrow your anger? If you’re angry, your child is borrowing your anger.

They’re taking it from you and putting it in their body. So when we’re calm, whoa. When they’re calm, they’re borrowing that calm and they’re taking our calm and putting it in their body. Co-regulation is your children borrowing your emotion and energy. Is that right? It or is just emotion? Mainly emotion, but yes.

Energy as well. Yep. . That’s for the people in the back. For the people in the back. Do you want your bro, that’s fucking powerful. Or borrow your calm and put it in their body. What do you want? What do you want them to do? And so, I used to think entrepreneurship was the biggest, most intense self-development journey.

That’s bullshit. parenting is

Oh my gosh, I’m gonna get so much hate for that. Entrepreneurship is an intense self-development journey. Yeah. But I kind of think that parenting is deeper. Yeah. Because tiny humans depending on you. Hmm. And they’re gonna inherit what beliefs you have, whether they’re limiting or positive . So I think co-regulation is also having like a committed.

Self-healing relationship or a relationship with healing so that you or some type of practice for regulating your emotions? For me, it’s reiki and breath work. I do a lot of breathing. I went to my allergist recently and he goes, can you breathe deeply for me? And I was like, sure. And he’s like, your diaphragm breathing has never been utter.

And I was like, I have asthma. And I was like, well thanks. That’s all that breath work. It’s not just for stress. It’s great for your diaphragm too. With co-regulation, what is the most important thing would you say is to know about co-regulation? Well, in order to co-regulate, you have to self-regulate. And so self-regulation is super tough because again, our child is borrowing our emotions and putting it into their body, and so if they’re having a tantrum and you come.

at their tantrum. Like, stop yelling, stop crying, stop screaming. Just, you know, they’re seeing that you’re being frustrated and they’re taking that energy and putting it back into their body so they’re not getting calmer, they’re getting more frustrated. And so when we’re thinking about regulating our own emotions, let’s take a selfie.

This is how we regulate. Our own emotions. It’s called taking a selfie. This is the acronym that I use to teach parents that I work with. So the S stands for C. What do you see? What are you looking around? What are you seeing? Are you seeing a sad face that’s ticking you off? Are you seeing a tantrum? What are you seeing?

So being mindful about what you see, and then maybe closing your eyes because this is too hard. You know, they’re making that face and it’s irritating me so bad. Or they’re having a tantrum and that’s triggering me. So I’m just gonna close my eyes for a second because that’s too hard. The E stands for environment.

What environment are you in? Is it overstimulating? Is it meeting your needs or do you need to step away for a sec? Do you need to like turn your body? Do you need to go in another room? You know your child is safe right here, you know, having their meltdown. So I’m just gonna excuse myself and go over here for just a second to calm down.

L stands for listen. Listen to your body. Are you feeling big emotions coming up? Or you know, really just listening to what’s happening for yourself. F stands for feel. Feel those emotions after you’ve listened to your body and you know that you’re feeling frustrated. Feel that it’s okay to be mad. It’s okay to be frustrated.

It’s okay to be angry. We have to feel that because if we suppress it, it goes into a bottle to explode later. So let’s feel for a second. Let’s feel our frustration. The eye stands for inhale. We’re gonna inhale three times and we’re gonna exhale. The East stands for exhale. So take a selfie, see environment, listen, feel, inhale, and exhale.

Take a, I love that so much. Self-regulate. Before you co-regulate with your child, would you say that this is also helping a person identify their triggers then? Because co-regulation goes down to like, Out of all of these things, you’re taking inventory and yeah, moving your nervous system from triggered to de triggered.

Yes, I love that. I love the idea of taking inventory, but yes, identifying your triggers. The C is honestly helping you identify because what are you seeing right now? That’s triggering you. Is it that face where you want to go fix your face? Is it that tantrum? Is it your face? You know, what are you seeing right now that’s setting you off?

Really identifying what’s happening right now? Why am I so frustrated? That’s how I help myself identify my triggers. What about this is making me so mad right now? Why am I mad? For me, it’s all auditory. It’s always noise. Hmm. It’s always noise. For me, it’s my number one trigger. How many people are talking at once.

Hmm. What is playing in the background? Who’s trying to get like all at once? Mm-hmm. , I received a tip once was music in, set the tone of your family and home. And a friend of mine, she knows, of course spirituality is big in our house is. Classical music or frequency music or rainforest music. So we do that on a regular basis Now, is we do have the TV on and it’s usually to a YouTube channel that has either, like my husband’s really into classical music.

He, even for his birthday, we went to the symphony. So you’d wake it was good. So, We do that in the mornings, and then we also have frequent dance parties for like, if we need to change the energy and shake things out. Mm-hmm. , if the dishwasher is running. Then that’s the only thing that it is. And then we’re going elsewhere in the house to read a book.

Or maybe we’re watching upstairs. But I can’t do the washing machine in all one. The washer in, in the dishwasher, but I’m not down there. Yeah. The two story town house, I’m going elsewhere. We’re going upstairs. We’re gonna read a book. We’re gonna do a puzzle upstairs. We’re gonna do something else. Yeah.

Identifying that and understanding like, and a communicating that my trigger was like when I was short circuiting and I was getting short in conversation and tone and getting kind of mean actually between my husband and my son. Mm-hmm. And he said I cannot function well and happily when there’s so much noise.

Yeah. And then also putting boundaries around toys that make a lot of noise. There’s a special place for people who make toys that can talk like . They shouldn’t have to talk that much. I think they’re creepy. So like Ali got a robot from his godmother. And it was a really expensive robot. Mm-hmm. . But it’s creepy and it turns on the time and it drives me nuts cuz it talks even when he’s not in the room.

It dies often. It’s unplugged a lot so it doesn’t get recharged. So like understanding like yours, it could be a lot of women I know just in general. They’re touched out. Mm-hmm. , like they’re too much like, so maybe physical touch like is for other people. For me, I give you more hugs, but it’s noise for me.

Some people it could be something different. Yeah. Uh, alright, so after we did routines, transition co-regulation is important. Non-violent communication. Hmm. This is a new one for. . Yeah. Non-violent communication is essentially respectful communication. We wanna communicate our needs and our feelings in a respectful way without blaming or shaming the other person.

So yeah, I think that learning to communicate in a respectful way. Is actually a learned skill. If you didn’t grow up with it, it can be done. I didn’t know that this was actually a term. I just thought it was speaking nicer, but you can speak nicely and still be an asshole. Yeah, , facts. I think it’s really important to model this with the people that are gonna be caregiving for your children.

Or babysitters and explaining who’s gonna be taking care of your children, because I know when I worked full-time in corporate, We had babysitters and when my mother-in-law would take care of Allie and we would just like sit down and say, this is what we’re doing, this is how we’re parenting right now, and give some guidelines, but non-violent communication is so important.

But also just making sure that the people who are gonna be around them, maybe I include them in what we’re doing. We’ve done a really great job over the past few years. To make sure everyone in our lives are supportive and a hundred percent on board and paddling in the goals and the ways that we’re trying to go in.

So we don’t really have any people that are, have any ill will or kind of even like challenge us in the way we do things or anything negative or people that are gonna be really harsh with us anymore. But we don’t have to have like hard talks anymore with people. Regarding this, but maybe my mom, she’s not really great with like the non-violent communication, but like she’s not present during the holidays.

She lives far away. But it’s really important to like include, I think, because it gives them a little bit of. Like if you’re just telling maybe a mother-in-law, you’re building that relationship with and you’re establishing your authority as the parent, as the mom, sometimes it could be a little bit of resistance there.

But if the mother-in-law is receptive and is caring, I’m lucky. Mine is super great, super grandma, and I say, okay, so right now we’re working. He is been showing this behavior, so we’re actively working on this. So be mindful when he’s around you. This is what we’re doing, please. These words, or if he responds this way, this is what I want you to do, or this is what we’re doing.

It gives him a little bit of a more of a why. And inclusion on your goal, and I’ve had a lot more success with that than if not including them and just telling them what to do. Kind of like autonomy, inviting them in to be part of the planning of their solution, I guess , absolutely. Same. Same principle, right?

Yeah. But caregivers matter a lot in that non-violent communication is not an innate thing, especially with older generat. They may have had a different parenting style of like, do what I say, don’t talk back and Yeah. If I tell you to do something that’s good enough and really that doesn’t cut the cake anymore.

Absolutely. Yeah. And that speaks volumes. But the, the two things that I, you know, like to use for non-violent communication is, Observations instead of evaluations. Mm-hmm. . And then also making requests instead of demands. So let’s talk about observations instead of evaluations. So when you’re making an observation, you’re just stating facts.

You’re taking something for what it is. When you’re making an evaluation, you’re adding your opinions and your judgments and your your own interpretation. So let’s state facts. Let’s state what we see. I noticed your clothes were on the floor. Your toys aren’t put away, versus you’re a lazy slob and you never clean your room.

you know, so you can kind of see the evaluation versus the observation. And then when we make a request instead of a demand, we’re requesting, would you be willing to pick up your toys versus pick up your toys? Now you’re more likely to get a better response to, would you, you know, can you, do you need help?

Do you need help picking up your toys versus pick up your toys? . And so when we’re thinking about communicating with caregivers about, you know, what they’re doing, What observations are you seeing? Are you seeing that they’re using words or language with your child that you don’t necessarily agree with or appreciate?

I noticed that you said this to my child earlier. You know, I’m feeling that when you’re communicating that it makes ’em feel this way. In our home, we say this, would you be willing to do this as well with. versus Why are you saying that to my son? We don’t do that at my house. You need to be saying this.

So making sure more honey, less vinegar. Yeah. Observations and requests versus evaluations and demands in understanding also like. If you’re like visiting somebody’s home and you do have this conversation, kudos to you. Cuz I think it’s really hard sometimes to have to even speak up to make the request, especially if it’s not in your home.

Mm-hmm. and you’re like visiting. Maybe you’re there for the day or just for a few hours, whatever it may be. Yeah. and if they respond in a not pleasant way, cuz that’s always possible. Understand it doesn’t have to be resolved in that moment. Sometimes it might be best, especially if it’s not your parent.

Mm-hmm. to let it go for the moment. As long as everyone is safe and not an immediate harm, make the call. . Sometimes it’s better and this is very hard to move and transition into. Hmm. Let it go for now and say, okay, we’ll just talk about it later, and then have a heavier conversation with your spouse and then be like, your mom, your dad, your problem.

Hopefully your spouse is supportive and can have that conversation. That’s how we’ve handled things in the past. My mom, my problem, my dad’s past, so not a problem. But like if I feel confident enough, I have done enough cultivation in my relationship with my in-laws where I can say if I have a concern, I can just go directly to them.

But if it’s like a bigger issue, I’m not gonna do it on a holiday. It’s not appropriate time. A follow up conversation with my spouse in preparation, and then that spouse can handle it. I think it’s important to know that everything has to be resolved right in that moment. Holidays are not always the best place to like have a family ringing and talk

I think that, you know, things are already stressful on holidays anyway and people, you know, depending on the household, we don’t drink in our family, so, but you know, some people may not be their normal selves. Mm-hmm. because they knew they traveled a long time. Maybe they’re drinking, maybe they’ve partaken in some other activities, but whatever it may.

Or they might be triggered themselves. You just don’t know. I think those harder conversations are always best for later when there’s been a cooling off period. My tip, though, I’m not the parenting coach, is, is to check in with your holiday plans. Like what are your plans for the holidays? What are those plans happening and why are you doing them?

I live and breathe by this. Yeah. Because I spent years being someone and trying to be a people pleaser for other people in our family, and it just cost me a lot of unhappiness and actually mental strife. And then I surrendered and said, F at all. Either you like me or you don’t. And I was very honest with my husband and there was no sides.

But he met me where I was at and we started doing things for our family first. Our immediate tiny little family versus pleasing. My mom pleasing his mom first, and I have hope been a lot happier ever since. And I also learned something. That has been super powerful is that when you decide things for yourself and for like what is gonna make you the happiest, that unites you more with your worth as a person, as a mom, that models behavior that’s very strong for your child.

But when you stand in that worth and you set a boundary also, and you stand in it and you let it sit for some time, some things can happen. Some things can really happen and we decided in August, we weren’t going anywhere for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Mm-hmm. . We had traveled Christmas. Two years in a row and it, we were in Florida in hotels for two years in a row and we decided we’re gonna be home for Christmas.

This is a big Christmas cuz Santa’s a very big thing and we have a five year old turning six. And that was what was important for us. So plans that you have every year doesn’t necessarily have to be what you do this year and what’s best for your kid. I guarantee, you know, a kid to three houses in one day, that’s a shit show, right.

A shit show. Nobody’s enjoying themselves. And I guarantee you, like I remember we had to go to multiple houses. I’m wanted to stay where my cousins were because the other house didn’t have any kids. Yeah. So I think So will the plans that you’re doing for Christmas or, well we just had Thanksgiving, bring more joy and connection between your immediate family members.

Right? That’s a question I ask is like, what are you doing? I do have a funny story. Do you wanna hear my funny story? Absolutely. Your stories are great. So I told my mother-in-law in August that we weren’t coming to Wichita. Mm-hmm. . And it’s because I had already actively tried to find a pet center and I couldn’t for the two dogs.

We as a, decided as a family earlier in the year. We were previous years, the reason why we were in Florida is we were actually looking for a place to move to mm-hmm. . Uh, we were trying to move to Florida, so we decided we’re not moving. earlier in the year. So there’s no reason to be in Florida. Mm-hmm.

let’s just stay home. I told her myself, not my husband. In August, Hey, by the way, two big holidays sure broke her heart and she was very polite and she goes, well, I hope things change. And he said, okay, but I don’t think so. We have the two dogs. I can’t board them. I can’t find a pet sitter. I’ve done my best, but you’re more than welcome to come here.

So Thanksgiving came and. Ali actually had to have a dental procedure done so we were quarantining during Thanksgiving. Christmas. This just happened. She sent me a nice text message and said, we’ll be willing to have the puppies in the sunroom. Ryan’s brother is coming. And I was like, oh, I’d love to do that.

Because before they’re not very much dog people. Mm-hmm. . But the fact is that she was willing to accommodate us with the dogs and that meant so much. So I talked it over with my husband and he said, what was most important to me? And I already know what’s important to Ollie is he wants his presents with Santa, right?

He wants Santa to come to his house, he wants his stalking. So we are moving Christmas up by a day. And so we’re doing Christmas even day on the 23rd and 24th, all the 25th. We’re gonna drive to my mother-in-law’s housed. and then we will have Christmas there with his family. Mm-hmm. . But the thing is, there’s always a solution if you’re seeking it.

And that boundary was, I have an attachment to my dogs and I couldn’t find it and we couldn’t travel with them before to her. But she surprised me. I was respectful of her boundaries. She was respectful of mine. But that was the thing, as long as you stand in your worth was like, I know that I would love, I would go more if I could have my dogs.

but that was uncomfortable for her. But she sent me that very beautiful text message. I was so grateful. I recognized the energy and effort, and I changed. I changed our let’s, well, let’s just move it up a day. It’s an arbitrary day. Why not? And then we get to go down there and then experience it. So I think that’s really special to understand that like what’s gonna serve the.

Yes, I’m gonna have more joy if we see them. My child, I’m gonna have more joy. If Allie is happier, he’s gonna see his cousins, his uncle and his aunt, and his Mimi and pop hop. Yes. That’s a win. Yeah, that’s a win. So understanding what’s most important to you for traditions and holidays also as a parent, and what’s important for your child.

Can lead to greater happiness because all he doesn’t, he wants a day where he can receive his gifts from Santa. Yeah. And play with them all day and maybe go sled riding. He’s not gonna wanna get in a car and drive six hours. Right. But if we did it the day before and it was uninterrupted, we got to do all those things.

What’s the difference of a day? Yeah. . So checking in with yourself and consistently every year with holiday plans would be different. Last year we. 13 days in Florida. Dang. So we were looking , we were actively looking, what city are we gonna move to? We were all over the state and we were in a hotel. So checking in this year, you couldn’t pay me to go to Florida right now.

You couldn’t. So like , I don’t wanna move. I wanna stay here. I’m in my sweatshirt and jeans. I’m living my best life in Nebraska. So every year you also might change like before. , like we had not decided we were gonna stay here. So what’s important to you? Where is your family now? Because from year to year, your kids get older, maybe like your marriage has changed.

Maybe your family needs alone time. You’re not gonna see anyone. So parenting can be made easier by asking yourself the harder questions. Like, what do we need right now? How are you spending your Christmas? I think I’m probably just gonna go to my mom’s house. Honestly, I’ve been thinking more about presence.

I think that that’s the key to my kind of holiday season is how can I be more present with myself? But I love that, you know, obviously with the children in my life as well, but also, yeah, just presence. And so I think spending some alone time with myself and then visiting family on Christmas. , growing up in foster care, did you develop any self traditions or did you dream of making any traditions?

Yes, and so something that’s been common for my family is always getting together with extended family on Christmas Eve and then being with immediate family on Christmas Day, and I feel like that’s been something that I’ve been doing. for a while in my childhood, and so I feel like I’ll probably keep that tradition.

I like it. It works for me, although I think I’m cutting out that extended family on Christmas Eve this year just so that I can focus on my presence. Presence for myself, how can I show up for myself and then just go to my immediate family on Christmas day? . I love that so much. I am a kind of a complicated person at times cuz I have so many cultures and, and me mm-hmm.

because I’m mixed. I have, you know, grew up in a Cuban neighborhood to Cuban High school in Miami and I’m half Ecuadorian, half white and, So no, Buena, which is Christmas Eve, is a big deal. We don’t really have any Cuban family here in Nebraska, but I still make the Cuban food that I grew up eating. Mm-hmm.

I grew up eating Cuban food, so on Christmas Eve. I will make Cuban food, all the traditional things and can ham and yuka and rice, and beans, frijoles. And then we open one gift on Christmas Eve. Typically, if we were in Miami, we would’ve stayed up till midnight and opened all the gifts. But I also grew up with American tradition where Yu, you’ve been one gift before my mom let us do that.

And then in the morning, We would open the gifts and that’s how we, we have done things for oie, so we do celebrate Christmas. Buk and then he gets one gift. He might get more gifts from other people, like, uh, maybe from, uh, like an uncle, aunts and his cousins or something like that. A little boy surprised me.

He wanted to make his own traditions. Oh, so he wants to do a gingerbread house. I’ve never done a gingerbread house in my life, but he he wants won. and he wants to do, he goes, I wanna do a gingerbread house every year. Oh. And he said, we can do that. They sell those kits at Costco. , . I can do Costco, so , but if it’s from scratch, I can’t do that.

Right. You know, traditions don’t always have to be like once you’ve always done, but like, and if you don’t like a tradition, you can change it. So understanding like how to parent easier in the holidays all comes back into checking with yourself. , what routines do you have? Are they working for you? Making sure your kids are part of the autonomy and the influence of those routines, cuz they’re the ones doing it with you.

Right? Transitions. Mm-hmm. and making sure that kids have time to say goodbye to things or finish the activity. Co-regulation. Can you remind people of your acronym ? Take a selfie to self-regulate by seeing, looking at your environment, listening to your body, feeling your emotions, and then inhaling and exhale.

I love that so much. The co-regulation is just knowing your common triggers. Yeah, and knowing like how to, in the inhaling and exhaling to get rid of them. Non-violent communication, which is, yep, we’re using observations and requests instead of evaluations and demands. More honey, less vinegar, . And lastly, check in on your plans.

What are you committed to? What do you want to say goodbye to do the plans that you’re planning to do. , do they serve you? Are they gonna bring you more joy and more connection between you and your immediate family? I would like to add one last thing as we’re recapping, I think. It’s really important that you don’t force your kids to touch anyone.

Meaning like saying goodbye, there should be several ways that your child can say goodbye to someone. Mm-hmm. , a verbal goodbye is fine. Mm-hmm. , there’s no guilt here in physical touch. I think that’s super important going into the holidays because, You know, there might be people that they’ve only, they’ve never met.

Like last year, Ollie had met people maybe for the second or third time, and I was like, we don’t do that. He said Goodbye being present as a parent when there’s goodbye to reinforce. Because I think that’s really important, especially if there’s new acquaintances, new relationships, or older people that they may not be yet familiar with or don’t know how to say no to.

And I think that hats a precon conversation needs to happen with your child. Like reinforcing that and even saying like casually saying that and repeating that, even if you’ve hit it home a hundred times, okay, we’re going to Mimi’s house. You don’t have to touch anyone. If anyone touches you or wants to give you a hug, just tell ’em, no, I don’t wanna hug.

Or if you’re okay with the hug, then these are the appropriate places they can hug you. Like we have this conversation often with Ollie. Mm-hmm. . I think there should be no guilt in saying, no, I don’t wanna hug or don’t touch me. That goes into being safe and knowing safe touches, and not being afraid to say no.

Absolutely. I, I think it’s so important. Very important and also teaches boundaries as well for the chat and that their voice matters. I think that showing up for your kid, if they say no and you back them up, that is super profound for them. Mm-hmm. . So how can people connect with you, and most importantly, because you’re a badass parenting coach, how can they work with you,

So my social media is on TikTok and Instagram or Family Thrive parenting. Send me a DM on Instagram. If you’re interested in connecting more about parent coaching or my parenting programs. Drop her a voice note and tell her how much you love this episode. Serena, thank you so much for being here. Just know that you’re a winner and I am so glad and grateful for you being here and sharing your wisdom.

Thank you so much for having me. This was fun. I’m so glad.

How to Make Parenting Easier Through the Holidays with Serena Rice

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