The holidays are here, and with them come changes in the routine, stressful times, overstimulation, and, yes, chaos for your children! Our favorite child consultant gives us some timely tips to make the best of the festivities with your little - and not so little - ones.
1. Stick to the routine
Kids do so much better with structure. They appreciate predictability, and they often "act out" when the familiar routines aren’t there.
So when you’re traveling, or if you have visitors in your home, do what you can to keep your morning and bedtime routines the same. You may be dealing with people you don’t often see, or you may be in someone else’s space – but you don’t always have to go with the flow. You still get to manage your time and your environment!
Hopefully breakfast and bedtime can happen at the same time they usually do. Or if you read books or tell a story at bedtime, keep doing that. Think about your daily routine – what happens, when? And try to maintain that routine as needed. Yes, holidays and vacations are about getting a break from the routine, but balance that with maintaining the rhythm, and you’ll have less frustration and stress.
2. Plan the day with your kids
Holiday shopping… visits to friends and family… holiday parties… holiday events can be obviously problematic (as in a visit to family you’d rather not spend time with) or they can be fun. Either way, they can be stressful and overstimulating.
But if you plan the day with your kids, this gives them a sense of partnership with you, it gives them a sense of control over what’s happening, and this increases their buy-in and ability to navigate situations that are difficult, or boring.
So go over the day with them, and if you have six errands to run, have your child help you to put some rewarding things between the errands. Be creative – this doesn’t have to be yet another event. It can be something simple, like a story, or snuggle time, or even joke-telling time! And if you and your child will be involved in something really challenging, plan your exit strategy. If your child – or you – can’t handle it, exit it! That way you can preserve your positivity and sense of balance for the next event.
3. Remember, more stuff = more chaos
So reduce chaos, facilitate calm, and get rid of some of that excess stuff before all the new stuff arrives. Most kids aged 4 and under won’t resist you – they’ll just thank you for cleaning their room!
And you can help older kids to get on board by making this a family project. They’re often willing to give things they no longer use to others who will use it, especially if you model this yourself! And remember, experiences can make the best gifts!
This article was repurposed with the author’s consent. Rebecah Freeling is a regular contributor the EB blog and leads trainings with teachers. She runs Wits End Parenting in Berkeley.