Holidays can be a fun time, but they can also be stressful, not just for you, but for your kids!
Let’s talk about some ways you can support your kids during the holidays so that the stress is not overwhelming to them or you.
Things get kind of hectic during the holidays: there are events to attend, changes in routines, and people around that your kids may not typically see the rest of the year. Communicating with your kids about these things ahead of time will help ease any anxieties they may have.
One way to share information with them is by creating a calendar with the events and activities you have scheduled and hang it on the fridge, or another central location. This way they can look at it to see what’s coming up and be prepared. If you have younger kids who cannot read, you can use pictures instead of text (or a combination of both).
Talk to them about who may be at these events, how long they will last and your behavior expectations. For instance if it’s a fun, relaxed activity let them know they’ll get to dress in comfy clothes and it’s okay for them to run around and play. If it’s a serious event (like a church service), explain that they may have to dress up a little and remind them that the expectation is to sit still and be quiet.
Talk to them about who will be there so they are prepared. Will it be mostly adults? Will other kids be there? Will they know everyone there or will there be some people they don’t know?
Sometimes it’s not necessarily the event that stresses kids out but just the uncertainty about what it’s all about and getting there and realizing it’s much different than what they thought it would be. Ease that stress by giving them info up front in ways that are developmentally appropriate for them.
It is definitely hard to keep a consistent routine for your kids during the holidays. Whether you typically have a strict routine or a more relaxed one, more than likely you have some constants when it comes to how you do things and the times they are done.
It can be exciting for kids to get to break the routine a little during the holidays, like staying up late to watch a Christmas movie or getting to eat extra sweets or snacks. But if you go too far off of their regular routine it can really throw them off and create stress, which could lead to them not feeling well or to behavior problems.
“Try to keep some things constant. Kids still need snack time, they still need special attention from you, and they still need a chance to unwind before bedtime.” (Ehmke, Rachel. “How to Make Holidays Better for Kids.” Child Mind Institute. October 30, 2023. www.childmind.org/article/4-ways-to-make-the-holidays-better-for-kids/)
Try not to be so rigid that you miss out on opportunities to have some fun as a family but remember that consistency and routines can be comforting to kids so keep some constants in your schedule.
Get them involved
As a parent you may feel like you have to do everything yourself which can lead to you not only feeling burnt out but also ignoring your kids, making them feel left out. Getting your kids involved can make them feel important because they get to be a part of what you are doing and spend time with you.
Depending on the ages of your kids, you can give them tasks to help out with like wrapping presents, decorating, helping in the kitchen, etc.
Our instinct is to just do these things ourselves because we know we can get them done quickly. Having your kids help out means it will more than likely take a little longer because you have to supervise them closely, but the time you get to spend together will produce memories that you may not have created if you had not let them help out.
Getting your kids involved can help you create traditions that they can look forward to every year. Completing certain tasks like decorating the tree or helping bake cookies will become associated with family time and fun memories. In turn, the opportunity to help out will help reduce their level of stress when the busyness of the holidays starts to kick in.
Also, this helps them build skills along the way that will help them in other areas of life, which raises their confidence.
If you see that your kids are getting extra cranky or acting out during the holiday season, take a step back and see how you can adjust your schedule or slow down and spend more time with them so they don’t feel stressed out or overwhelmed. Making sure your kids feel supported and enjoy the special moments during this time of the year is what’s most important.
If you find that you need support to manage the stress during the holidays or the holiday reveal that there are some things you’d like to work on as a family, contact us. We’d love to help.