This morning my early bird son slept in until 6:00 am. I felt like we had hit jackpot, as it wasn’t the usual 5:00am of the last few days!
Children are bursting with excitement. School is closed, and Christmas morning is around the corner.
Christmas is a great time for families and friends to come together and celebrate. It brings much joy, love and laughter. Amidst all the happy emotions, we sometimes find a little bit of stress and anxiety sneaking in because there is just so much going on! So how can we be proactive about dealing with the stress and anxiety that might find its way into our household?
Here are my top 8 essential tips for minimizing holiday stress!
1. Create a Schedule. Having a schedule during home time for children may seem like an absurd idea to some, but it is worth putting some thought into it! Scheduling outside play time, structured and unstructured play time, tablet time, and outings can help your kids to thrive and reduce behavior problems that peak when children are home from school with a lot of time on their hands.
2. Share Holiday Plans with Children. Children like to know what’s going on too! Although we sometimes like to keep travelling and other fun Christmas activities to ourselves until closer to the scheduled time in order to reduce the questions and excitement, when children know what and when to expect it, it helps to deal with potential stress and anxiety.
3. Pack Awesome Travel Bags. Travelling with children can be exhausting…especially young children. Although a lot of effort may be put into the packing clothes for the trip, it’s important to pack great carry-ons to keep your kiddos busy. Puzzle books, favorite toys, books and magnetic activities can make long flights or travel delays manageable.
4. Don’t Abandon Bedtime. When the holidays roll around it’s natural to reduce the rigidity when it comes to bedtime. Although you may be letting your children stay up later, please do remember that they still require a good night sleep! Sleep deprivation is not pretty, and it’s signs and symptom go far beyond just having a sleepy child. Children who are sleep deprived can be more irritable, hyperactive and less rational. If we couple irritability, hyperactivity and reduced reasoning with holiday candy and excitement, it may not be a pretty scene!
5. Don’t Force Affection. During the holiday time, children often see family and friends that they may not have seen in some time. Although this may be quite exciting for you, remember that if your 5-year-old has not seen a family member in three years, chances are they may not remember them. It’s tempting to push your child to give ‘Uncle Joe’ a great big hug, or ‘Aunt Monica’ a big kiss on the cheek, but be mindful that some children may not find this comfortable. If they do not feel comfortable and are forced, it may send the wrong message to them as it relates to comfort and giving physical affection. Perhaps encourage conversation, or high fives if your child shows hints that he or she is not comfortable with physical affection.
6. Healthy Snacking Habits. There is no lack of junk food during holiday time! Holidays are a great time to enjoy fun homemade delicacies full of lots of goodness. Just remember, that its’ a good idea to ensure that there is some healthy food incorporated as well! Pack healthy snacks in your bag for travelling or leave them out for snacking options at home. Healthy eating is key to dealing with stress and anxiety.
7. Focus on Giving and Gratitude. It’s natural for children to be excited about the gifts that they will receive. As parents, we must steer the ship to ensure that we also ensure that our children understand that Christmas should involve just as much or more giving and gratitude than receiving. Go out of your way to name your blessings with them. Model gratitude. Model giving. Give together as a family.
8. Take Care of Yourselves Parents! Holidays are filled with lots of love, joy, food, and late nights! Stress can build quickly. Take a pro-active approach. Have a self-care plan for yourself that encourages you to be intentional about how you take care of your mind, body and soul throughout the holiday season. This will ensure that you can truly be present and enjoy the magic of this holiday season.
Have a blessed Christmas!
Shifting Perspectives is a weekly conversation with Yolande. Yolande, a Canadian of Caribbean descent, now calls the Turks and Caicos Islands home and in this podcast challenges Caribbean woman worldwide to fuel themselves with diversity in the way they think, the way they work, the way they parent and the way they live.