We are nearly in the swing of all things Holiday and that means a more overwhelming “to do” list, schedule changes, and added stress for the adults. It is also a time when many kiddos can become overstimulated, overscheduled, and overtired. Here are some strategies that may help us all have a more “over”joyed holiday season with our kids:
Routine: DO try and stick with your routine to decrease stress levels of the family! When possible, try keeping normal nap, bed, and eating times to avoid increased irritability. If our babies and kiddos know that their routine “travels” too, they are less likely to be anxious or stressed by not knowing what is coming next. Bringing a comfort item from home can also help with the differences.
Remind/Rehearse: For children preschool age and older, as the holidays approach, routines change at home but also significantly at school as well. It is important to compensate by providing greater predictability and structure at home. Some children may benefit from visual or verbal prompts to remind them of the different events throughout the day that stray from the “norm.” Consider making a holiday calendar. Create a list or insert pictures of planned activities that are outside the regular routine.
Respect: DO show respect for your child’s age and stage. At four months, I know that baby is more alert and becoming more attached to mama. I want to be respectful of just how overwhelming new faces, sounds, smells, etc. may be to this new little life. I also respect that my preschooler may still be a bit shy around family he has not seen in some time. Talk to your child about good times with each relative. Then, as you introduce them, you can remind them of the pleasant story and your child may feel like they know them. Pictures are also helpful! If a child is sensitive to touch, perhaps offer for him to give a “high five” instead of a hug!
Realize: Do realize each child’s limits and build in some down/quiet time for the babies and younger kiddos! Some quiet time with mom or dad, reading, talking or resting, often allows the child to reset. When possible, try to schedule only one or two outings per day as this is often plenty for young kids. Remember the malls and stores are now more crowded with people, “things,” decorations, etc. This bombardment can overwhelm even the strongest of sensory systems!
Reward Yourself: Mamas are often the glue that keep the family together and running smoothly. We can feel a tremendous emotional fatigue during the holidays -which means fewer emotional resources with which to manage our kids. If we are emotionally fatigued and anxious, we are not available to be there for our kids emotionally. Try not to overload yourself with obligations or extra stressors . . . the holidays in themselves bring plenty of extra! Sometimes with extra hands around you can get some extra “YOU” time. Reward yourself mama, you deserve it!
Our childrens’ behavior is highly meaningful and they are communicating something with their actions. It is our job to watch, listen and interpret the message. I am hoping to be more aware of that this holiday season.
Now, on your marks, get set . . . “Holiday”!! ~ Rachel