The Holiday season is here! The stores are full of Christmas carols, decorations, sales and crowds. Many of us are stressed about getting our shopping done, staying on budget and generally fitting everything in; but what about our kids. Often as adults we think we are the only ones who are stressed about the holidays. We see our kids excited by their school play or the presents they want, we sometimes don’t see that the little ones are stressed as well. Children often pick up on the emotions of those around them. It may be hard for them to relax when they see their parents frantically rushing around trying to accomplish everything before the “big day”.
Ironically all the rushing around is done with the intention of creating a fun and enjoyable holiday for the children. But if we are running all over the place and stressed out our children with not be enjoying themselves. Although you may not know if your child’s tummy ache is due to all the candy canes they ate or if it is due to the holiday stress, you can as a family make the holidays more relaxed for everyone. Here are a few simple and helpful tips:
Keep it simple: Often times we try to attend every holiday gathering because we don’t know how to say no or don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. There are some holiday invitations you just have to turn down. Remember you are teaching you children that it is okay to say no if you do it in a respectful manner. This will help them learn things like time management and how not to spread themselves to thin. Some things to consider:
- Prior to accepting invitations decide what you are going to do or participate in
- Work as a family to decide which invitations you will accept and which events you may skip.
- Be sure to schedule in down time where everyone can regain their energy and you can reconnect as a family.
- Be creative: blend events/ activities together. If you need to get the baking down have friends over for a baking party!
- Be mindful of the unique personalities in the family: One child may be able to participate in every event where a more introverted child may need lots of down time.
- Kids can feel bombarded by things like commercials; try to reduce the amount of TV they watch at all times but especially during the holiday time. Instead read as a family, do a craft or play a game.
Keep to your Routines: Routines provide children with a sense of certainty and can help keep their stress levels down. Although you may need to have some flexibility in your routines try your best to keep your routines going as much as possible. Some ideas are:
- Prior to scheduling events go over your families routines and how you can fits events around them.
- Look at which routines are a bit more flexible and which ones you must maintain (ie. Bedtime)
- If you must break the routine look at ways you can still provide you child with a sense of routine. For example letting them know what is going to happen that evening.
Keep up with family meal time: It may be impossible for your family have every supper together however try to as many nights a week as possible. Family meal time is an important time for reconnecting with each other and this is still true during the holiday season.
- It is a time to decompress and check in with your kids about how they are feeling. During dinner time you may get a better sense of how they are handing the holiday season.
- It is also a prime to provide them with a valuable coping strategy: proper nutrition. Proper nutrition can help children feel less stressed and also support their immune system during the busy holiday season.
Keep up with your traditions: Most family have some type of traditions around the holidays. These are important for children as they let them know what to expect. Like a security blanket or stuffy they provide children with comfort and security. Again some tips:
- Do not incorporate too many traditions as this may cause more stress.
- Have each member identify which traditions are important to them and finds ways to incorporate these.
- If you family is going through a transition (ie. Divorce or loss of a someone) try to keep some traditions and perhaps bring in a new one that you will be able to carry on.
Keep playing: This one is very important for both kids and adults. You need to laugh and relax during the holiday season and one of the best ways to do this is to keep on playing.
Don’t let the stress monsters get the best of you and your family this holiday season. Rather use the holiday time to reconnect with each other and continue what your family values.