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Dec. 5, 2022

Episode 76: Are You Making Sure Christmas is Meaningful for You Too? with Regan Mitton

You work hard to make Christmas magical for your children… But what makes Christmas magical for you? In this episode DJ spoke with mom of 2 and Couples and Family Counseling Masters Student, Regan Mitton. Tune in to hear them discuss keeping your stress at bay, assumptions and expectations in check and how dropping the traditions that don’t work for your family, being intentional about the customs and events you do include in your holidays and making your yes’s and no’s meaningful will help keep the magic in Christmas for you!

Regan Mitton is in her final year of getting her masters degree in Couples and Family counseling.  She took a hiatus this current semester to give birth to her second child.  She is now the mom of 2 beautiful and energetic girls, one 4 years old and her newborn.  Her husband is a police officer who also volunteers his time working with teenagers in the community.  Regan has worked on several topics concerning moms and stress. 

• [6:18] “Even when we didn't believe in all of the Christmas things anymore, they still made it feel really magical.”
• [10:37] Regan explains:  “So you have this expectation of how Christmas time is gonna go, how the putting up the tree is gonna go. And then those expectations aren't met, and we're sad, we're disappointed.”
• [12:44] Regan discusses being intentional with our money & time spent at the holidays.
• [24:19] Regan shares how she recognizes overstimulation and overwhelm in herself and how she manages it.

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DJ Stutz  0:13  
We think you should know that imperfect heroes Podcast is a production of Little Hearts Academy USA.

You're listening to Episode 76 of Imperfect Heroes - Insights Into Parenting, the perfect podcast for imperfect parents looking to find joy in their experience of raising children in an imperfect world. And I'm your host, DJ Stutz. Regan Mitton is in her final year of getting her master's degree in couples and family counseling. And she took a hiatus this current semester to give birth to her second child. And so she is now the mom of two beautiful and energetic girls. One is four years old, and then her newborn, and her husband is a police officer who also volunteers his time working with teenagers in the community. Regan has worked on several topics concerning moms and stress. So with everything that she has going on in her life, I consider her an expert on many levels. There's so much to learn. So let's get started.

A couple months ago, I was approached by an educational support group called Counsel Academy. And they asked if I was interested in putting together a certified program for tweens and teens who are interested in creating their own babysitting business. Well, of course, I was interested. So from December 18, to the 22nd, we will be meeting for just one hour each night at 6pm. Mountain Time. And the students are going to learn about child development for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and elementary aged kids. We're going to learn how to manage conflict, what to do with the unexpected basic first aid and how to approach babysitting as a business, where to find safe clients and how to get repeat business. There will be a quiz at the end, and you will get a certificate showing you have completed the course. So if you have an older child, or if you have a babysitter that you just really like using and think that they could benefit from this course let them know about it spread the word. And all of the information on how to register for that is in the show notes. 

Wow. I understand from personal experience that so often, when we are trying to make things special for our families, we failed to make them special for ourselves, and good for us putting our families than others first in our lives. We work hard to make that extra effort, decorating, cooking, visiting, creating special activities or events and so on. Isn't that what the season is all about? Well, yes and no. And perhaps it's better to look at what this season truly means to us emotionally, socially and spiritually. And then look to see if the things we spend our time on truly align with those values that we hold so dear. It is so easy to feel pressured to put way too much on our calendar and on our to do list that we lose the spirit and just feel stressed out. I don't think that is what Christ had in mind. Regan Mitton is a young mother right in the middle of it all with the two young girls, a husband with a demanding schedule, and a large extended family. That might be a clue y'all. Her educational background and life experience has given her a healthy, strong outlook on things. So let's listen. 

Welcome, everyone, and thank you for choosing to spend the next few minutes with us. I have an amazing guest, whom I love. She has a very famous sister that is frequently on the show. This is Bailey's sister, Regan Mitton. And Regan is actually just finishing up her degree in

Regan Mitton  4:22  
therapy, marriage and family therapy.

DJ Stutz  4:25  
Yeah, marriage and family therapy. You're almost done, right? Yeah. That's pretty cool. But here's the cool thing. She is taking this semester off because she just gave birth to her second little beautiful girl. Yeah, yeah. So you've got it all like you're in the middle of thing. The new baby and two kids and trying to manage work, your husband's in law enforcement as well. So there's that crazy schedule thing that goes on. Yeah,

Regan Mitton  5:05  
we've got the whole nine yards over here.

DJ Stutz  5:07  
Yeah, you do. And so I really wanted to talk to you, because you've got this perfect background with the family therapy, marriage and family therapy, and you've got the new baby, and you've got a huge family, and you have Christmas coming up, just like everyone else. And so I, I kind of wonder that we put a lot on ourselves that we don't need to, at Christmas time. And so we stress out so that we don't enjoy it as much, you know, we're so worried about the kids enjoy it. And they have that. And then we have our parents and our siblings, and then our friends. And there's the work things and church things and all of those things that come into play. And maybe some of those things are great for certain parts of our time. But how do we manage to not lose our minds?

Regan Mitton  6:18  
Yeah, that's a really good question. But what is the number we all try to do everyday not lose our mind? No, but I like something I've been thinking about is how magical Christmas time fell as a kid, and even into my teenage years, like my parents did a really good job at making it feel magical. Even when we didn't believe in all of the Christmas things anymore, they still made it feel really magical. And it was, I remember it. And I feel very blessed to have these memories. But it was always a really fun time. And super magical, it felt special. And then as you become an adult, for some reason, you lose some of that. I least I did. Maybe not everybody does. But I kind of felt like it lost that magic. Like I remember, I don't even was it last year year before, like, it was Christmas time. But it didn't really feel so much like Christmas time it was like the trees up and do my Christmas shopping. But Christmas shopping is really just online these days, you know, so like, it just didn't really feel like Christmas. And so I've been thinking like, How can I still make this time feel magical even for myself, because for me to make it feel magical for my kids, I think I also need to feel that you know, but like you said, as adults, and when you have kids, it just almost feels overwhelming instead of fun and magical. Because there's so many things like the traditions to get uphold all of the activities to go to. And nowadays there's, there's all these different holiday markets, there's, you know, meet this Santa go to this park, do this thing and then somehow work and manage a family life as well. So it can be a lot. Yeah. Yeah. So that's something I've been trying to keep in mind this year is like, how can I make it magical for myself? And I think it kind of starts with figuring out what is serving me and what is not serving me. For example, some traditions that I had with my family, they served us well, we had, you know we had there. I'm one of seven. So there's a lot of us. And some of the things we did worked really well for us. And then now I'm trying to kind of do those things with my family. And it's like, it's just not, it's just not serving you like it served me back then. And recognizing that that's okay. Yeah, that what I did, as a kid and have to do now i and it can still be magical, letting go the things that are stressing me out and doing more of the things that feel good. And if the feel good things is minimal. Who cares if they may give them a little bit needed on the field, but have to have attended traditions for it to feel that Christmas time?

DJ Stutz  8:57  
Yeah. And I couldn't remember. So grandfather, my dad, your grandfather, wasn't one to put up lights out on the house or anything like that the day the tree went up was always very, very stressful every year. But I do remember us piling all into the car and driving around to look at other people's Christmas isn't it? We didn't have to do ours, but we'll look at what everyone else did. And that was a big memory,

I think for me at least was driving around. And I don't know how they chose which houses they were going to drive by or which areas but I mean, we lived in LA and he had fellow professors, peers that lived in Bellaire and you know some of those places and I know that those are some of the places that we would drive around is going to see things They're

Regan Mitton  10:01  
well, but you bring up a really good point actually about like it, some of the things felt stressful to your family, you know, like, you didn't put up the lights putting up the Christmas tree was only like, halfway exciting because it was just stressful. But we, you know, we see, when we think of putting up the Christmas tree, we think, oh, there's Christmas music in the background, there's fresh cookies in the oven, you know, we have this, like, this is how we want it to go for it to be perfect. But in reality, it's not, it's not like that. And then we're kind of let down, you know, and that's, I think we're all disappointment comes from unmet expectations. So you have this expectation of how Christmas time is gonna go, how the putting up the tree is gonna go. And then those expectations aren't met, and we're sad, we're disappointed. But then something you brought up is you're like, but we just left the house and went to see other people's lights. And it's easy to think when they put up those lights, they had the picture perfect moment, they had the Christmas music going with the fireplace and the cookies in the oven. And everything was just right. So that's why they have these beautiful lights. But in reality, there was probably like a handful of swear words said while they're putting that there was probably like a couple of family fights, you know, like, some disagreements, like I know that it wasn't picture perfect, but we so easily are like, look at their lights, look at their house, look how great like they, they had it. And we didn't, we didn't have that moment, like they did. But their moment probably wasn't picture perfect either. But it's so easy for us sitting back. And of course, it's still great, we get to go look at other people's lives. And that's super fun, great tradition to have, because it's simple, but not not comparing your situation to that situation. Because you are seeing that tiny little final product to that situation, not the process.

DJ Stutz  11:50  
Well, and I think that's a trap that people very easily fall into, is making those comparisons, you know, or this family has a lot more money than we do. And so they are getting all of this or we feel pressured to get our kids these expensive presents and a bunch of them and, you know, on, they have this joy of waking up on Christmas morning and there's all these presents and and but if you don't have the money, or the inclination, maybe you want to make your Christmas more Christ centered. And so you're not gonna do all those presents. Kids survive when they got one present. For mom and dad, you know, and they

Regan Mitton  12:44  
didn't just survive. I'm sure they thrive. Yeah, even though they got one or two gifts from mom and dad. Like, that's it's not even just a matter of oh, they made it through their life was so hard. Like no, they loved it. It was still Yeah, it was still great. And it's funny that you probably know that my my husband won't even tell you this. My word lately has been intentional. Like it started out when as I was thinking about like buying gifts and stuff. We live in a small house I don't like I feel like we are just busting out the seams of this house. We have way too many things. I'm ready to throw every belongings away. And then, and so I was telling him like, I just want to be intentional. I don't want you. I don't want to just buy stuff for the kids. I don't want you to just buy something for me even like a gift for me that's just like, Oh, she might like this, like, No, I want to I just give me one thing that I'm going to love and cherish. And that's it like being very intentional about our purchases. But then the more we like talked about it, like, the more I've just been using that word throughout the whole so far, you know, we're not even through through this holiday season. Like it's just spent the word on my mind like intentional time spent with my kids intentionally doing these activities intentionally going visiting our family, you know, like being more intentional, which goes along with being present but slightly different, like, with purpose doing these things with a purpose and not just doing them. You know, putting up lights outside the house is stressful. Don't do it. There's no purpose behind that, but putting meaning behind things and then it feels more. I don't know it feels more fulfilling.

DJ Stutz  14:25  
Yeah. Yeah, I think it's important for us to keep in mind to the idea that every yes to something is the no to something else. So really, every time we say yes to going out to a party, that's great. But realize then we're saying no, to maybe an evening at home with just our kids and you know, playing a game or whatever. And the party may be worth at all and I'm not saying but when you talk about being in tensional really think about the whole thing. If I do this, then maybe I need to give up making these cookies the shear or, you know, and balancing it out and recognizing that every Yes, is a no to something else.

Regan Mitton  15:19  
I love that. It's like a bank account. You know, every time I buy a burger, I get a burger, but my bank account was lower. So I'm choosing a burger over money, which obviously I need to eat. But it's the same idea. And so I think the other thing is being intentional with the things you're saying is that, am I saying yes to noise? Or am I saying yes to something meaningful? Because I'm saying yes to noise and saying no to something meaningful. So if I say yes to going to this holiday party, or Yes to going to this Holiday Market, where I'm probably going to spend money that I don't even want to spend on these little trinkets, you know, rather than staying home and like, let's do something as a family. And so there's figuring out and being intentional with our yeses, am I saying yes to noise? Or am I saying yes to something that is going to bring us meaning?

DJ Stutz  16:08  
Yeah, I think just as a, you know, I just retired from teaching, this is my first year. And I'm missing everything. I missed those kids so much, it's killing me. But anyway, it makes me stop and think, to really, do we need to buy all the gifts that we're buying, you know, does the teacher really need? Or did she was she even use this gift? That? Or am I just buying a gift to buy a gift because I feel obligated? When

Regan Mitton  16:47  
it's almost like a image thing? Yeah.

DJ Stutz  16:50  
And as a teacher, for me, anyway, I love like a heartfelt card, or, you know, something personal, didn't have to cost anything. It's nice to be remembered. I'm not gonna lie. It's nice to be remembered. But it doesn't need to be. You know, there's so much food for teachers. Like, oh, the parties and then the PTA brings in all this stuff. And this. There's all this stuff going on. But that can help. You don't have to be a teacher for that to happen. Maybe it's in your workspace and you feel obligated to get something for, you know, a co worker or something. And you really don't have to how many candles does somebody need?

Regan Mitton  17:44  
Right? Well, I think that even happens within families. Like I think about, even my kids, I'm like, Okay, well, we're getting them like three gifts, because they get swelled from grandparents on both sides. And then they're also have their aunts and they spoil them. And so it's just like, there's, there's a lot of that if you even within families or families that feel like I need to get every single one of my siblings and my mom and my dad and all of my nieces and nephews, gifts for Christmas like that is a walk to put on your shoulders during a time you're trying to not feel like you have a lot on your shoulders, you're trying to enjoy your family and enjoy being around them. But now it's turned into a stressful thing. And the you know, there's a couple of different ways to like combat that because you, like you say we want all that we love feel remembered. I want my siblings to know that I think about them, and that I'm like, oh, I want to get them a gift. But at the same time, it can be a rough balance. And that's one thing that my family, and I believe your family like with all your siblings, I don't know if you still do it, but you kind of drop at least as we draw names every year, and this is the person you get a gift for so you only are getting one person and get nobody's forgotten. And it's still we all still get to connect. And every year you get to buy for somebody else. And that's been and then even we started doing it with the cousins too. So even like all of our kids, they draw names for each other. Instead of getting each person at present, it's too much.

DJ Stutz  19:13  
Yeah, I know. Once we all started becoming grandparents, that kind of went away cuz we were spending all our money on grandkids because yeah, that's what you do when you

Regan Mitton  19:26  
Yep. And that's why I'm getting my kids like to get Yeah, yeah. Our grandparents will take care of us. Yeah.

DJ Stutz  19:34  
Well, we have those traditional gifts and I think your family still does the same thing like Christmas Eve jammies. You know, and so that was one of the gifts and then maybe something from Santa something from mom and dad. And that's good. And let them learn to be happy with that. I see families. Their kids have So many toys, that they'll have a special room set aside just for toys and it is packed. I mean, there's hardly room to play in that playroom too much. It's too much. Yeah. And our kids come, they wind up growing up with these unrealistic expectations for their own adult life.

Regan Mitton  20:24  
And finally, thing is those kids don't even play without, you know, they'll play with the random trinkets they won't even play with the toys that you really have for them. It's unnecessary.

DJ Stutz  20:36  
It is so unnecessary. And and then what happens to their imagination and all of that. It's hard to keep the room picked up, let alone clean. Right? Yeah. Yep. So just take that off your plate.

Regan Mitton  20:53  
eliminate it? Yeah, it's one of those things that that's, I think that would be noise.

DJ Stutz  20:58  
Yeah. Okay.

Regan Mitton  21:00  
And, you know, a great tradition, we started it this year with our oldest She's three is I gave her a bag. And I said, You got to fill this bag up, to donate to other kids that don't have that don't have presence. And it was such a good way to start out, like the holiday season. Immediately, you're thinking of others. And she was I would thought, Oh, this is gonna be a fight. She's only three she won't really understand. Like, where are these toys going? Why don't my art to keeping them. She loved it. She was like, Oh, I don't I played with this. When I was a baby. I don't need this anymore. Another baby can have this or you know, and she was so excited thinking about giving these toys to other kids. And then when my husband got home from work, she was so excited, like showing him the bag like, oh, look, these are toys, cuz some kids don't have toys. So I'm going to give them these toys. And it was like, such a great way to start everything out and clear out summer. Yeah.

DJ Stutz  21:54  
One of the things I did this a couple of years ago, I put together a bingo card, so that the kids could get a bingo by what they donated what they put in the donation box. So it would be like maybe something blue, or a track or $1 or whatever. Yeah, I it was fun, because I got an email from one of my listeners. And she said, I downloaded the bingo card. And I did it with my son and he was three at the time. So I mean, it's amazing how young they can catch on to these things.

Regan Mitton  22:35  
And they feel good. Like, yeah, we you know, you always say like serving others and stuff and makes you feel good. And it does. Even in those little kids like even in the young age of three, they can feel that and it starts. It's like a snowball effect. You know, the sooner we can help them feel that, the more they're going to do it.

DJ Stutz  22:55  
Exactly. And the fun thing was he got his bingo, right. But he was so excited. He wanted to do blackout like he wanted to fill every were for the kids who didn't have toys. And I'll tell you this family, I've wound up working with them. And they didn't have money. Like this was this was a family in need themselves. And yet here they were finding a way to, you know, help their son and he latched on and was so excited to fill up the bingo card. And you know, and I think she gave him a popsicle. Or done like, You did such a great job. But it was it was and then it was fun for me to hear back from her and tell me how well it went. That was a nice thing to do. So breaking, I'm wondering, what are some of the sense that you can tell you're overloading yourself, you're stressed, because I think it's kind of like that frog in a pot sometimes. You know what you think, Oh, I'm just gonna do this and this and then something comes up. Yeah, I can do that. And that and we don't realize how stressed we are actually getting because it's just a little bit at a time that slowly adds up.

Regan Mitton  24:19  
So yeah. And then sometimes it's hard to detect when we are like overstimulated or when we're overwhelmed or having a burnout, because we're just still in the Go, go go. Now there's a few signs right that you're feeling overwhelmed. And I think even like physical signs, headaches, if you're having frequent headaches that can be a sign of stress and overwhelm you emotionally, it will manifest itself in a headache and shoulder tension, things like that. But then there's also if you're irritable, if you feel like you're getting angry quickly with your family, with your husband or your kids, even yourself. It just takes one small thing. You know, like sometimes you're just going throughout your day and then one small little thing happens and you snap. That's a good sign like, Okay, I'm not actually mad that my kid just spilt their sippy because kids do that. You know, like, it's okay. But it made me snap. Right. Yeah, you signed up for that. The second you had a baby. So, um, but it made me snap. So what am I actually mad at? You know what? That was an easy thing to take my frustration out on. But what am I actually frustrated with? So little things like that? Yeah. So irritability, physical signs, like headache, tension in your shoulders, even tension in your jaw. That's a big one. For me. Sometimes I just sit there. And I like peel the my tongue off the roof of my roof of my mouth, relax my jaw, relax my shoulders, and even just sitting there for 30 seconds like that. I'm like, Oh, I feel so much better. I feel relaxed. But yeah, I think those are all signs that you're you're doing too much.

DJ Stutz  25:58  
Yeah. Another thing that I kind of, I wasn't good at this when I was younger. Because I always felt the pressure, you know, to get it all going. But I think making a plan ahead of time. Yeah. And then sticking to it. So it's like, oh, no, that's not on our list.

Regan Mitton  26:23  
We're not gonna go into that one.

DJ Stutz  26:25  
Yeah, you know.

Regan Mitton  26:28  
And today with like, the internet makes me sound so old. And I say that, but with the internet, and everything is so accessible to like, find what's going on all the way through December, and then being like, Okay, here's a list of everything that's going on with our in our community. And here's all the things that's going on with my family and with my church, and then picking and choosing that way you can be intentional.

DJ Stutz  26:54  
Yeah. And you don't have to go to everything.

Regan Mitton  26:59  
And please don't go to everything actually. Yeah,

DJ Stutz  27:02  
for sure. Because then when do you have those quiet moments to share things with your little ones? You know,

Regan Mitton  27:10  
yeah. You don't call that noise?

DJ Stutz  27:15  
Yeah, that's a lot of noise. That's a lot of emotional noise. And then sometimes, maybe you can give us some ideas on when we notice that our spouse is starting to feel more stressed than we are. Right about it. What are some of the signs? And then what are some of the things maybe that you would suggest that we can do to support our spouse?

Regan Mitton  27:45  
Yeah, that's a really great question. Especially. I mean, now things are kind of shifting. But you know, in the traditional family, it's the dad that works. And then the mom that's home with the kids. And so I'm sure the father feels this big financial burden. Oh, yeah. Chris, this time, because this like, a burden to meet all the standards by all these presents, and now the dad feels the financial burden of that social burden, right, like this whole effect. But noticing the signs with your spouse, if you guys are fighting more than you normally would, which is so common around the holidays, like really, really common, usually, people have more time off of work. So they're spending more time together than they normally do that can cause fights. And then just all the just all the pressure. So if you're fighting more often, yeah, I would for sure be like, we are overwhelmed, including you, including the other, it takes two to tango. So more fighting, if they're more irritable with the kids. If they're having troubles waking up on time, if you're having troubles waking up on time, if the small things start to feel hard, but my biggest sign I know I'm overwhelmed if doing the dishes feels really hard. Like for whatever it is the dishes is this, the sign for me, if I'm overwhelmed, if I'm stressed the dishes feel like the biggest burden in the world. So finding those little signs for yourself and figuring out what that is for your spouse too, and having that conversation with them. So you both can be aware. So that way, if I know what my husband's sign is, then I can be aware of that. And vice versa. He knows that we're in positions are stalking Hi, he's like, Okay, let me do the dishes. And then let's figure out what's stressing you out. And that yes, I think that's a great way to to handle it going into like so not only knowing the signs, but then knowing how to handle it and it's having those honest conversations. Hey, I noticed that the dishes haven't been done. It's okay. I don't care that the dishes aren't done, but I'm worried about you. Like I want to help you emotionally. How can I support you? What noise do we need to eliminate?

DJ Stutz  29:57  
Yeah, or maybe saying I'm noticing Some of your triggers. So whether it's dishes or I don't know, getting dressed.

Regan Mitton  30:07  
Yeah, you snooze your alarm five times every morning. What's going on?

DJ Stutz  30:13  
Yeah, and I'm a person that when I start feeling overly stressed my body all shut down. And it's almost like I can't think I've got to close my eyes for an hour to recharge. But then I don't sleep at night. Right? I go sleep during the day, but I won't sleep at night.

Regan Mitton  30:35  
And eating habits is another one. You know, like, you're around the holidays. If you're trending yourself, you're not really eating. You're just snacking on those treats that people keep bringing by. But you're not having meals. That's a big thing. You need to be having your meals.

DJ Stutz  30:52  
Yeah. Now let's move along. So we've talked about noticing stress in ourself. We've talked about noticing stress in our spouse. You know, when that little kids feel stressed, it's a little easier to notice, because they're on the floor, kicking and screaming and throwing things and doing the things we wish we could do. Yeah, we're stressed.

Regan Mitton  31:14  
Yeah, they don't leave us guessing. That's for sure. Yeah, always know how they're feeling.

DJ Stutz  31:19  
Yeah. So you start noticing these things, and then the Christmas meltdowns are just, it's almost like it's part of the tradition. Yeah, you know, you gotta expect Christmas meltdowns, which then add to your stress. So you're already feeling stressed, and they're reacting to their stress?

And then that creates more stress for you. So maybe, what are some of the signs or what are some of the things that you can do when you're noticing how the holiday stress is affecting your kiddos?

Regan Mitton  31:58  
Um, that is a great question. Because it will right like you said that the Christmas meltdowns are just kind of part of it. And that means they're thrown off because things are out of rhythm. It's not their normal thing. You're going and doing different activities. Or maybe you aren't, there's no pressure to do any, you don't even have to do a single activity, which is great if you don't and great if you do, but either way things feel different. The house is usually a decorated different there's a tree in your living room, like it's a lot for kids and it can be overstimulating, so what not being, like understanding they are throwing a fit, like I wish I could throw a fit and so it's not their fault. And acknowledging I'm just jealous, right? Yeah, like, Oh, I wish I can I just lay on the ground and kick my legs. That sounds bad. But like, I'm acknowledging that with them acknowledging the emotion like hey, know, about, like your I see you're really upset. What have you upset? I know things feel different for you know that this is or, wait, there's a lot going on. Are you tired? Are you upset? Figuring out the emotion behind that tantrum helps the kids so much too, it helps them recognize Yeah, I'm actually just really tired mom, like I and it's like, Okay, let's go home or let's not go we had plans tonight. Let's stay in. Like that's not what the kid needs. And I certainly don't want to deal with another meltdown. So we're just going to stay in, are you but I think the best way is just helping them acknowledge the emotion that they're feeling. And then addressing that emotion, okay, you're tired. Let's put on a movie instead. Or okay, you're overstimulated. Let's go, let's clean up all the toys and do a puzzle, or you know, finding something that's turned, you're overstimulated. Let's turn the TV off or turn the music off, let's put toys away. Whatever it is they need to do and color, what you know, like simplify whatever emotion it is addressing that emotion with them and then fixing that emotion. Or leaning into that emotion as should say, rather than fixing it.

DJ Stutz  34:02  
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it's okay to be tired or frustrated or scared of Santa. Oh, yeah. That's a big one. Yeah. Yeah. And then so then you wonder, do I push them? Do I not push them? You know, of course, the picture of the screaming kid on Santos lap is epic.

Regan Mitton  34:25  
And but you know what, there's so much controversy about that these days. People are like, How dare you post your kid petrified on the internet, which I kind of get their point, but at the same time, I think it's harmless. Yeah, it's one day they're gonna love it too. So,

DJ Stutz  34:41  
and there's some of my favorite pictures too. So, you know, just as a grandma. Oh, yeah, I posted on the internet. I just love seeing it. You know, my daughter or my son? Well, here's Santa yet. And the look on Santa space is just Just brushes.

Regan Mitton  35:01  
Yeah, he's like trying to keep it all together.

DJ Stutz  35:04  
What a hard job.

Yeah. Yeah, I think too, for any of that, whether we're looking at ourselves or our spouse or our kids, I loved what you said. And I thought you said it so perfectly was sitting back and saying, Okay, why did I get mad? Over the sippy cup? Or whatever? Why did I get mad at my husband? Because I didn't like, the way he looked at something. Right? And so I'm interpreting all of this stuff, just by an innocent. Look. Right? Yeah. And, and so but I think instead of beating yourself up by it, I got so mad, or Oh, things are not going right. Or, you know, you start beating yourself up, instead of you can use almost the same word. So instead of like, Why did I do that? Or you can say, wow, why did I do that? You know? Yeah. And you're coming at it from a place of curiosity. Does that sound right?

Regan Mitton  36:08  
Totally from you. You're curious instead of judgmental? Yeah. towards yourself?

DJ Stutz  36:15  
Yeah. Yeah, we beat ourselves up so much, you know?

Regan Mitton  36:23  
Yeah. Well, and it's something. And this is a concept that I really love is, it's something called negative sentiment override. And that's when you basically I use it mostly with couples, but it totally applies to everything. You interpret little things as negative, when in reality, they're neutral, or maybe even they're positive, but you interpret it as negative. And you know, like, with your spouse, for example, they give you a look. And you're like, Oh, what, what was that all about? He's like, Yeah, you immediately are like, that was negative, you think that I'm lazy? You think that I'm crazy? You think that whatever it is that you're interpreting that and they were like, in reality, they just looked at you because they're like, I didn't understand what you were saying, I didn't understand what you asked me or whatever, you know, it was totally neutral. Or maybe it was even positive, maybe he was doing it in a joking manner. But since I have a negative sentiment override, I immediately interpret that as something negative. And same with our kids, you know, maybe they're throwing a tantrum. And a tantrum is kind of neutral, actually, it's not really a negative thing, because it's just your kid trying to express their emotions. And when we interpret that as something negative, like, my kid is bad, because they're throwing a fit in the store right now. Maybe you're stressed, because you're interpreting that as something negative and interpreting them as something bad. That's a good sign.

DJ Stutz  37:48  
You know, and that's so common. I mean, I've been married now for 44 years.

Regan Mitton  37:56  
Crazy, that's like, almost double my life.

DJ Stutz  37:59  
Oh, I know. But, so this past weekend, we headed up to see my oldest daughter, and then my brother is a football coach. And his team is in the plus state playoffs. And so we wanted to go and watch. But anyway, I'm in the middle of this blanket I'm making for one of my grandkids. And it's just big and heavy. And my husband had made a comment that he thought the blanket was probably getting too big to take on these trips. Because, you know, when we settle in, I'd usually work on it at night, because I'm trying to get it done. And, but I really wanted my daughter to see because it's her daughter, one of her daughters that I'm making it for, and I wanted her to see it. And hit made that comment and so okay, I'm gonna store that away. Right? Yeah. And then I see him looking for a box. And I'm like, What do you want the box for? Because it's, it's for that blanket. And I'm like, thinking, Oh, he's just gonna stick it in a box and put it in our room and not even take it and I'm thinking, you know, and, but then I asked him, Well, what size box? What do you, you know, then I asked him and he said, Well, I, I don't want it to get dirty in the car. So I want to put it in a box so that, you know, it's well cared for. And I looked at him. I said, Wow, I totally misjudged you on that one. Yeah.

Regan Mitton  39:33  
Your first immediate thought is like, Oh, well, Lottie, da he doesn't care about my blanket. He doesn't care about me. He doesn't care about our grandkids. You know, like the things that go through your mind. And then it's like, actually, he was doing something very kind and thoughtful.

DJ Stutz  39:50  
He really was. So I was glad I didn't get too snooty and asked a couple of questions. And then it was funny because I told them I said that that is not at all what I got with that box, I think give each other the

benefit of assuming positive thoughts rather than negative, which it's hard for me. It's hard for

Regan Mitton  40:19  
most of us, honestly. Is it? Yeah. Because it's it's kind of like our defense mechanism. If I'm expecting the worst, I won't be let down. You know? Yeah, it's not very healthy for us.

DJ Stutz  40:32  
No, no, it's not. And I think it causes a lot of family problems and marriage problems. You know, even with parent and kid or kid to parent, you know, we start making these assumptions or assumptions about expectations around the holidays can be hard. Oh, yeah. And, and when they didn't even really, and and then heaven forbid, if you have a child or your birthdays close. Within, right? Yeah. Yeah. I have three grandkids that have birthdays in November, and another one in December. Wow. Yeah. And so then there's that added, I want them to have a special birthday. I don't want them to feel overlooked. And so I think, again, that communication piece.

Regan Mitton  41:29  
And super important. Yeah.

DJ Stutz  41:31  
And, like you said, Even little guys can get it. They understand so much more than we give them credit for.

Regan Mitton  41:42  
So yeah, absolutely.

DJ Stutz  41:45  
Yeah. So if you were gonna give a young family who might have you know, kids under eight, one big piece of advice, what do you think the one piece would be for the holidays?

Regan Mitton  42:05  
Oh, man, that is a good question. I think my one piece of advice would be probably going back to my word intentional. Be be intentional with each other be intentional. With your gifts be intentional with your time. You Yeah, I think that would probably be it in the power behind that simplifying things. And, and how simple doesn't mean boring?

DJ Stutz  42:34  
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I think too, even though it may have been something that was a great memory for you, for you growing up, your kids are different people. Yeah. And so what worked for you and your family and may have been very special, may not work with the group that you're loving and caring for? And, yeah,

Regan Mitton  42:58  
like, you're maybe going out and seeing Christmas lights worked for you and your origin family. But now, you've got two kids that get carsick easily. So it's just a mess every time and they're upset. You know what I mean? Who knows what it is, but adjusting? Yeah, pivoting? Well, and then

DJ Stutz  43:15  
I think to remembering that when you have a family, you have a spouse that has their own things that may have been very different. And so they may have very different expectations, or things that are important to them. And so you know, you don't want to poopoo you know, because well, that's not what we did. Yeah. So just being open, I think and flexible. And you don't have to.

Regan Mitton  43:46  
Yeah, I think that's really important to keep in mind this time of year. You don't have to do any of it. And that's fine. Totally. And you can eat, you don't have to and it can still be magical. Yeah. Yeah.

DJ Stutz  43:59  
Now, Reagan, I know that you have an Instagram, and you post on it. Sometimes I know you're not much lately. You're a little busy taking care of a brand new baby. A little bit. And a little adorable four year old with a big personality. Yeah, so cute. She's so cute. She's, she has, but if people wanted to check in or see what you've got going on there. How would they find that?

Regan Mitton  44:28  
Yeah, so on Instagram, it's my mutton mind. Just all, you know, that's the handle and I just post on their mental health stuff. And like you said, right now I've taken a little break. But once I get started seeing clients again, I'll also start posting on there again. So

DJ Stutz  44:46  
inmitten isn't like a mitten you put on your hand?

Regan Mitton  44:50  
No, yeah, it's m i t t o n. So my mitten mind and it's o n instead of?

DJ Stutz  44:59  
Well, N I'll go hadn't get that in the show notes as well. So they can check it out. Okay, Reagan. So I ask all my guests the same question. How would you describe a successful parents?

Regan Mitton  45:22  
Oh, a successful parent to me is one that have kids that feel loved just that their kids life does not have to be perfect by any means. But that even through the heart and through the trials that their kids go up. I love it.

DJ Stutz  45:41  
You're right. And you're right, so much as possible when you feel loved. Literally. Yeah. Yeah. Well, Regan, thanks for spending this time with us around the holidays, and congratulations. And God bless you on that new little baby. And thank you for your wonderful family. And so we'll probably have you on at another time. I like to bring my important and intelligent and wonderful family and this. But thank you again, so much.

Regan Mitton  46:12  
Thank you.

DJ Stutz  46:17  
All right, here's our recap. Number one. As the title of this episode suggests, we work hard to make Christmas magical for the kids. And it's okay to think about what makes Christmas magical for you as well. Number two, be intentional about what traditions and events you include in your holidays, what served you once they no longer serve you and your family's needs. Number three, remember that it may seem like the perfect Christmas in someone else's home. But it's not perfect. They have their own challenges. And the process was most likely messier than the outcomes that you see. Number four, disappointment comes from unmet expectations. Things just didn't go as you hoped. And that's okay. Sometimes it's better when things are different than what you expected. Number five, think of the word intentional. Don't just do things because you think they are somehow expected. Does this work for myself and my family, it's okay to drop the things that don't. Number six. Remember that saying yes to something is saying no to something else. So make sure your yeses and noes are meaningful. Number seven, pay attention to your body and other signs that you are building stress. And even take a few seconds to take a breath, relax your body and recenter yourself and watch for the signs that you and or your spouse are getting stressed. And number eight, and I really liked this one was the negative sentiment override. I'd never heard about this term before. But when Reagan talked about it, it really meant something to me is when we take something and make the worst possible assumptions. So either from a look that we get or something that a friend, a family member or a spouse or a child might say, instead of thinking of how that would be a positive thing. We take it negatively. And so we want to make sure that we're really keeping that intact, because that adds to our stress in a way that it really doesn't need to. Right. Okay, if you would like more information on Reagan and her Instagram account, all the information is in the show notes. 

And Holy smokes. We have so much going on. We just finished the five day challenge on living in gratitude, and the open enrollment in the Cicerone society earlier this month, and we have more events and opportunities to engage and get the support that you need to better enhance your confidence as a parent to create that path and blaze the trail of raising independent, kind and successful children. So go ahead and sign up for our newsletter. You will find upcoming events you'll find thoughtful tips. You're going to find information on topics that are pertinent to us right now. You're going to find extra tips, you're going to find ways for you to get the support that you deserve, and need to become that strategic parent that we all want to be. You will find it on the website, www.littleheartsacademy And of course the link is in the show notes. 

And next week, I will be talking with somebody who was on our podcast just last summer. Natalie Silverstein is a mom from New York and the author of two books on service opportunities for families and teens. And she also has her own podcast now that I just love. She has many great ideas on how to make this Christmas one centered in service. So check it out and see. And until next time, let's find joy in parenting.

Transcribed by

Regan MittonProfile Photo

Regan Mitton

Regan Mitton is in her final year of getting her masters degree in Couples and Family counseling. She took a hiatus this current semester to give birth to her second child. She is now the mom of 2 beautiful and energetic girls, one 4 years old and her newborn. Her husband is a police officer who also volunteers his time working with teenagers in the community. Regan has worked on several topics concerning moms and stress.