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266: A Game Plan for a Happy Holiday Season

By December 5, 2023December 8th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast

The Winter holidays can be a struggle for parents. We want to provide plenty of space for our kids to relax and de-stress. But too little structure can quickly turn into restlessness and boredom and tension. This week we’re listening back to a classic episode that features the timeless wisdom of the sage Lorelai Gilmore. Her example will help you find the courage you need to set better boundaries for your family (and minimize the stress for yourself) this holiday season.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  1. Why a relaxing break without structure can turn into family drama.
  2. The importance of having a game plan in place before the start of winter break.
  3. How to provide the leadership your family needs to de-stress the holidays.
  4. The Gilmore Girls blueprint for holding and setting boundaries even when it feels uncomfortable.

And much more! 

As always, thanks for listening. Head over to Facebook, where you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community. We post tips and tools and do pop-up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!


About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.


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[00:00:00] Randi Rubenstein: My name is Randi Rubenstein, and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast. At Mastermind Parenting, we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them. 

[00:00:09] Hello. Hello. How is everyone this week? I have holiday madness on the mind. What about you? It’s like once November starts, it’s like Thanksgiving and then winter break, the looming winter break. And so this episode today is all about holiday happiness. Okay? 

[00:00:37] Randi Rubenstein: I don’t know, I was thinking about you guys and I was thinking about, when you know your kids are going to be with you for the break, you’ve got a lot of things on your plate. Of course, you’re the kind of parent that listens to parenting podcasts, so I know that you take it seriously. Like you’re like, okay, we only have 18 Christmases or 18 Hanukkahs or 18 winter breaks to take, you know, special vacation or whatever the thing is for you that makes you feel like, okay, I got to get this right this time. It’s going to be great. It’s going to be great. We have all of these ideas. 

[00:01:16] But really. Inside, we’re thinking, oh, what if they just rot on screens? Like, you know, it’s like the weekend, but every single day. And all I see is them on the screens. They won’t get off the screens. They’re fighting with each other. There’s constant pantry surfing. They’re having snacks for meals. It’s just like fighting and meltdowns and super stress. To me, that’s not the recipe for happiness. So if any of this describes your secret fears, I want to help you. And that’s what this episode today is about.

[00:01:56] So, what does it take to create a holiday break that’s not that nightmare, right? Like where you end, you’re, you’re sending your kids back to school and you’re like, that was a good, like Christmas. Winter break 2023, it was good, that’s one on the books and, uh, I’m ready for them to go back. And it was a good time. It was a good break. So what do we do? 

[00:02:26] Pack leader energy. This is a concept that I’ve been talking about a lot lately. Um, 

[00:02:34] I’ve always talked a lot about pack leadership, that you’re the leader of your pack, right? You set the tone. And today, I, we’re bringing back an old episode that is going to help you to really understand this concept more clearly, right?

[00:02:54] Because happy holidays don’t just happen. It takes behind the scenes planning and amazing leadership. Why does no one tell us when you become a mom that, I mean, when you become a parent and specifically, I feel like when you become a mom, this is all about leadership. This is all about being an effective leader, 

[00:03:16] right?

[00:03:16] Do amazing weddings or birthday parties just happen? Do you just wake up that day and say, well, you know, let’s get married today or let’s throw a birthday party today? No, as you all know, there’s thinking, there’s planning, there’s lots of things that happen ahead of time, there’s strategy. 

[00:03:35] Not in an annoying way, right? Like, I’m not saying that I want you to all of a sudden become like annoying Becky Home-Ecky. That’s not what we’re talking about here. It’s different. It’s more about having a confident mindset and a plan. And a plan. Okay. 

[00:03:57] So I want you to listen to this episode and really have a clear picture of what pack leadership energy looks like. Like what does it look like to be a pack leader? And, you have time. That’s why I’m releasing this episode early in the month because you have time to make a plan. 

[00:04:22] And I think having a clear image in mind of what it looks like, like who you want to channel. And you’re like, yeah, I would never be the kind of person that just woke up and said, well, I think we should throw a birthday party today or let’s get married. Um, it’s never going to go well. I’m the kind of person that does, that shows up and creates excellent experiences. So that’s the energy we’re bringing. 

[00:04:51] And this, you know, again, I’m not into kids centric families. I am into family centric families. So listen, learn a few things and I’ll be back next week with more tips, because that is my objective for this month for you, is we are going to create a happy holiday plan and make 2023 a year to remember. So that’s what I’ve got. Enjoy the episode today.

[00:05:26] This week I want to teach you again about boundaries through story and I’m going to include a little coaching session that I did with, um, a mom and I used an example from the show, the Gilmore Girls on how to understand boundaries. I explained it to her because, I just held a workshop and it was all about like planning for the holidays. So you have a successful holiday with your kids. 

[00:06:00] Like, so you don’t, you know, what I said was, a fantasy without a plan is just delusional dreaming. So I had had everyone kind of write out the thing that they were dreading the most about the holiday season, which for most people, it was the open ended days, no schedule, um, parents needing to still do some work and knowing that like their kids were just going to be out of each other’s throats. 

[00:06:28] You know, it’s an open ended container of a day for kids just to like fight with their siblings, walk around saying they’re bored, um, complain about lots of different things. And parents are like, okay, and I still have a house to run, laundry to do, food to cook and a job, you know, and work I have to do, or at least emails I have to answer commitments. Right? 

[00:06:52] So a lot of parents are like kind of dreading all this time off from school, um, because life continues on as usual in a lot of ways for many of us. and now we just have our kids home all the time. And so I said, you know, okay, so what are you dreading the most? And if I could like sprinkle some magic fairy dust, what would be the fantasy?

[00:07:16] And so I said, you know, a fantasy without a plan is delusional dreaming. And so often we just go into these holiday seasons. You know, open ended days with no plan. And so this mom who was, you know, really kind of resistant to the planning, Oh, it’s holiday vacation. Like, we’re complaining, we’re dreading about the, we’re dreading the open ended days, but then like, we don’t really want to get our shit together and like have a plan in place. And when you have little kids, like it’s a lot of hours in the day. And, um, you know, the structure thing is sort of important. And so like having a shell of day. 

[00:08:02] So anyway, we were having this workshop and I coached this mom a little bit and she was just, I could tell a little bit resistant. So I followed up, and left another message for her. And I remembered that this mom had been a Gilmore girls fan. And I said, I’m going to teach you some things through the Gilmore girls. 

[00:08:23] So that was kind of, you know, how I was wanting to kind of get through to this mom to help her sort of just realize that, like, 

[00:08:32] during the holidays, you know, your kids need some pack leadership and they need you to be like, the fearless leader who’s going to ground everyone and, let everybody know, this is what we’re doing, this is our schedule, and sort of like have your shit together a little bit. 

[00:08:51] And I think many of us resist because we don’t want to, we don’t feel like it. We don’t know how it seems like too much. We want to cross our fingers and hope for the best. And the best never happens. So, like, we’re gonna change that this holiday season. 

[00:09:05] So, I thought this would be a fun little clip to share with you guys on the podcast because, you know, I’m really focusing on the whole boundaries, the elusive concept of boundaries for mom after mom, after mom that I meet. 

[00:09:23] You know, most people who are drawn to work with me or even to listen to the podcast, like, you know, just to brag on you guys for a minute, like you guys are the cream of the crop. Like you’re some smart chicks out there and you get things done in your life and you’ve got accomplishments and resumes and, and all kinds of impressive things that you’ve accomplished, right? There’s a lot to be proud of. 

[00:09:51] So like I attract some smart people and, uh, for some reason following through on this whole boundary thing, you guys don’t do it. You don’t know how to do it. You tell yourself you don’t know how to do it. And hope it’s helpful. 

[00:10:08] I want to leave a message for Amy. I was thinking about you and in terms of stepping into pack leadership, a little fun fact that I remember about you is that when you joined the program, I think I had just finished up Gilmore Girls, and we bonded over our love for that show. So I’m going to use an example from that show. Okay. 

[00:10:35] A lot of us who have loved that show, which, I will say like Scott would look over while I was watching that show and he was like, I don’t understand. Like, like, it’s the cheesiest show, you know, and I started watching it with Avery and then I finished it because Avery had already watched it like 2 other times.

[00:10:55] So we started watching it. But then, like, I ultimately ended up finishing it without her because she had just like, she really wanted to watch the early seasons and then she kind of got bored at the later seasons. So I’m watching this, you know, old show, that and he’s just like, I don’t understand the allure.

[00:11:12] Well, the allure was really Lorelei, you know, and I just loved her. I said to Avery recently, I was like, every once in a while, I have to just like, watch a little bit of an old episode of Gilmore Girls because I just like miss Lorelei. And missing her with Rory and their, you know, their relationship. She’s like, I know I do the same thing too, like, an old friend. I know, my TV friends become my friends

[00:11:39] But I want you Amy to channel your inner Lorelei in terms of pack leadership. And let me give you an example there. I don’t know what season it was, but there was, you know, Lorelei and Rory just have this amazing relationship and. Um, she is clearly the pack leader, but there’s such a friendliness between them. And Rory’s such a good kid and she does the right thing. And it sort of just seems like Lorelei must’ve hit the jackpot and Rory’s just easy. And she gets to, she just lucked out. Okay. 

[00:12:15] But I want you to think, first and foremost about, there was a season where I think it was when Rory was dating Jess. And she made a series of some decisions that weren’t, you know, maybe stayed out all night or did something. They were like. Yeah, I think she’s oh, I know what it was. I think she stayed out all night. They fell asleep. Um, they fell asleep. They were like making out in whatever, whatever her name, the dance, the dance teacher’s place and they fell asleep. 

[00:12:52] And then she came home the next morning and Lorelai was pissed. And there was like, half a season where Lorelai, was pissed at Rory and was like setting boundaries and Rory felt like Lorelai was just being unyielding and wouldn’t see her perspective and yada, yada. 

[00:13:12] But the thing is, is that Lorelai knew that Rory was in a phase of her life where she had to be the mom with some boundaries. She had to follow through on those boundaries. For Rory’s sake she needed to set some boundaries and to let Rory know like she didn’t approve of this guy and she didn’t, this behavior was not okay. 

[00:13:38] And no matter how much Rory got upset with Lorelai and it upset Lorelai. Lorelai showed up in pack leadership and was her mom in that season in terms of, like, I’m not running for homecoming queen here. There are rules and the rules will be followed and there will be consequences when the rules aren’t followed and she just stepped into that. And so she had to miss out on, you know, that friendliness and that connection for a little bit, while Rory went through this hard kind of stage of life, but she needed Lorelei to step into that pack leadership.

[00:14:17] And I hated that season because part of what I loved about that show was just their beautiful connection. And I even wanted Lorelei kind of to cave. I was like, oh, my God, she’s being so hard on her. Why is she? But really, she just was showing up in pack leadership. 

[00:14:32] And so, Amy, I want you to remember, like, you know, if she was worried about, like, Rory experiencing hard emotions or Rory feeling all alone or disconnected from her mom, or Rory not liking her for a minute. Um, if she was worried, like, you’re worried about, like, what if they’re disappointed and what if they’re bored and what if they’re uncomfy, is that going to mean that, um, I’m not providing the best environment for them. I’m not being a good enough mom. Okay.

[00:15:05] If, if Laurel, I was operating from that sentence in her head, then she would have caved and she would have given in and she would have not held firm on her boundaries. But at that stage of adolescence, like Rory needed a little tough love. And so when your kids are feeling uncomfy going through some moments, they open their present. They don’t like it. there’s too much time in the day, the board, whatever. You stepping into pack leadership and, you know, having the rules in the household and, and communicating what those rules are, right? And maybe the rules are, if it drives you crazy when they come and say, I’m bored, I’m bored, I’m bored, you’re having conversation on relevant time.

[00:15:58] A few years ago, we did a thing on, like, and we may have it in the content library, the Bored Jar where you guys like, hey, we have a bunch of time coming up for winter break and there’s going to be a lot of time here walking around and saying you’re bored when we have a house, full of toys and a yard full of things to do and there are brothers and sisters available to play with and you’ve got a very creative magical thinking brain and coming and saying to me and daddy, I’m bored. I’m bored. I’m bored. When it’s a time for you to play and be creative and to figure it out. And it’s a time block when we’re getting work done is it’s not an option. 

[00:16:37] So we’re gonna have a new rule. You say, I’m bored, and all I’m going to do is point to the I’m Bored Jar. We’ll have ideas for different things you can do. I’m not going to be reading those to you. I’m going to be pointing to the I’m Bored Jar. For the littles of for anybody can’t read, you know, you can say, if you want to bring it to me or bring it to one of your brothers or sisters to read it to you, you can do that. 

[00:17:03] If you say I’m bored again, I’m not engaging in that conversation. We’re not even having a conversation. I’m not even going to acknowledge that you said it. 

[00:17:13] You keep saying I’m bored and not just going and occupying yourself. To me, it means that your brain is too tired to be creative. So you’re going to go into your room, and you’re going to take a rest. For one hour. You’re going to lay on your bed, and you’re going to take a rest, and you’re going to have some quiet time so that your brain can regenerate and get creative again. 

[00:17:37] See, so there would be a real rule connected. So now all of a sudden you’ve put a boundary around I’m bored. But you have to be in that Lorelai mindset. You’re doing this for them, not to them. She was doing some tough love to Rory during adolescence. For Rory, not to her. And it was uncomfortable, but ultimately Rory came back around. When she came back around, Lorelei was right there to receive her

[00:18:05] . Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips, tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life. And I just wanted to let you know, if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household, I want you to go to my website and check out We have three beginning programs, and if you need some accountability and more support then please look for the one that would be a good fit for you.

[00:18:39] And, as always, we’re on all the social channels under mastermind parenting, on Instagram it’s mastermind_parenting. And, you know, periodically I do pop up on different Instagram lives, Facebook lives where I give you teaching and coaching and I love engaging with you live to help you help your strong-willed kids so that they can feel better, because when they feel better they do better, and I love, love, love getting to know you guys. 

[00:19:12] So thanks for listening. If you like this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review. Super super appreciative

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