The holidays are a fun time for families, but they can also be stressful. Children thrive on routine, so traveling, eating large meals at odd times and seeing new people can really throw your kids for a loop if you’re not prepared. Learn how to keep your family happy through the holiday hubbub.
Stay on a schedule – Kids need routine to stay on track. Sometimes it’s tough to do this when you may have long road trips, plane rides, family visits or other circumstances that might throw a wrench in your typical daily schedule. Prepare your kids for changes in routine. Try to make sure they work a nap in (if that’s what they’re used to) and get to bed at a reasonable time.
Don’t buy everything they ask for – We are constantly bombarded with advertisements, but the holidays are particularly overwhelming, with many ads targeted at children. It’s hard to resist wanting the entire toy store when advertisements make all the toys look so fun and enticing. If you celebrate the season by giving gifts, try not to overindulge. Instead of purchasing every single item on your kids’ lists, try giving to those who are less fortunate, and involve your children. Sponsor kids from an angel tree or buy for Toys for Tots. Go to the store and let your children pick out toys for other kids and explain how special that toy will be for the recipient.
Teach kids to be thankful and gracious – You never know what may come out of your child’s mouth when Aunt Edna serves up her famous green bean casserole. Talk to your children prior to holiday events that although some foods may be new to them, that doesn’t mean they are bad. Talk to them about which foods to expect and the proper, polite responses when they’re offered foods they wouldn’t normally eat. Tell them that they may receive some gifts that aren’t exactly what they wished for, but that it hurts others feelings if they are critical when they open those presents. Teach your kids to say thank you and mean it for every item they receive.
Give kids some input when you’re cooking the family feast – Children are more likely to eat foods they’ve helped to choose and prepare. Give them several choices when you’re shopping for food (for example, should we have peas or broccoli for our veggie?). Let them help with age-appropriate meal prep activities so they’re more likely to try new foods at dinner.
Don’t stress – Your holiday doesn’t have to be a Pinterest-worthy, picture-perfect dream to be a success. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect, and concentrate on what you can realistically do and afford. Children pick up on our moods, so if we’re walking around grumpy and frazzled, that’s not going to make for a happy or relaxed holiday for them. Relax and be happy, because that’s what this season is supposed to be about.
Set expectations – During the holidays you may be spending time in other people’s homes. Set expectations for your children so that none of the rules catch them off guard. For example, you could let them know the household you’re going to doesn’t allow shoes on the carpet, so remember to please take them off.
Eat normally – Don’t save room for one gargantuan meal at dinnertime. Eat your normal breakfasts, lunches and snacks leading up to the grand holiday meal. Saving room for a feast will cause blood-sugar crashes, which will lead to crankiness and tantrums. Not eating enough leading up to a big meal will also encourage you and your kids to overeat when dinnertime finally arrives, leaving you feeling bloated and sick after dinner.
Sparkles! parents, look for an invite to holiday celebrations at your child’s center. No matter what your traditions are this time of year, it is a great time to take a moment to celebrate with family–thank you for being part of ours!