The weeks leading up to Christmas feel like a frenzied race to the finish line. It’s a hurried and chaotic time for many overworked mommies and daddies. Personally, all I ever want for Christmas is to relax and spend carefree, lazy days with my loved ones. But I knew by the time my third baby arrived (and I was pulling my hair out) that I had to get intentional about protecting that space of time when the kids are off from school from turning into another busy to-do list or overscheduled week. It was time to fall off the social planet for a week or so – unapologetically.

Just Say “No”

When you plan the weeks of holiday break, make it a priority to add in days of downtime with absolutely nothing planned. That’s right, I said, “schedule in nada.” Then, use that time to relax and connect with your kids and spouse. Maybe it’s taking a leisurely hike and talking, cooking together, working on a puzzle, sipping hot cocoa, watching a special family movie or playing a card game with grandpa; it doesn’t matter what you do as long as there is no agenda other than to be with the people you love the most. Use this time to talk over things that are bothering you, to encourage one another and to create a safe and healing space for the people that matter most.

Pick Your Favorite Movie

Let each member of the family pick out their favorite movie at the theatre (or at home) and sit down as a family to watch it. Break out the popcorn and Junior Mints and relish the laughter and emotion your kids share with you. Take them to dinner or have a meal together afterwards and discuss the themes and parts of the movies the kids enjoyed. Or do another Keller family favorite – binge-watch Hallmark Christmas movies with your daughters to combat all the football-watching the guys are doing!

Game Night

Our family loves to play poker, so on cold winter nights in not-so-frigid Southern California, we are often found at the kitchen table wheeling and dealing until the wee hours. We play with pennies or small change and have some of the greatest conversations and friendly competition imaginable, Backgammon and Old Maid are other favorites. Games are a wonderful way to connect with your kids and extended family. Hands are occupied and little hearts have a way of opening up to you when they are beating your pants off.

Take It Outside

Winter sports are special when it comes to bonding with the family, and they build up a great appetite for meals back in the lodge together. Wherever you reside (or vacation at), think of all the amazing outdoor winter activities just waiting for you to take advantage of, whether it’s hiking, tubing, sledding, skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, ice-fishing or boating. My kids love to race mommy down the mountain slopes in our nearby ski park; the last one down the hill is always a green pig and has to carry in the equipment. Laughing and letting go of your stress for a few days is a gift your children will treasure forever.

Get Away From It All

If it’s just too hard to shut down your schedule at home, think about getting away to a place without all the distractions. It could be a cabin in the mountains or visiting family in another town; anything out of the ordinary will force your family to let go of routines and focus on relationships. Hawaii might be out of your price range, but a road trip to your college buddy in Denver might fit the budget and create an adventure your kids won’t forget.

Be Intentional

Don’t forget to turn off the phones, put away the iPads and live in the moment and not on the internet. Your kids will hate it when you pry the Snapchat out of their paws, but they will appreciate it later. We have to be willing to fight for our families by taking a stand against the intrusions of the world and the darkness in our hearts. Make the most of your days by celebrating the small things in life and open yourself up to the unexpected beauty of the moments that take our breath away.

I believe relationships matter. Moments matter. People matter. These are the things that will last, so invest in them.

You may also be interested in Are You Missing Out? 4 Ways To Make Time For The Little Joys Of Life

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