Holidays! The vision in my head always starts so well. Soooo much time to relax and play and catch up. Get stuff done. Kids playing harmoniously together. Trips to the park and beach. Holiday craft. Reading books in the backyard. Lazy cuddles. Sleep-ins. Seeing friends that we haven’t caught up with for a while. Maybe a few days away.
Sounds bliss. And bits of it are or will be.
The home days at my house are (mostly) fun. The tiredness from school and childcare fades, and they like being home and hanging with their things........Take them away and its a different story. They get extra tired from the change of routine. If they nap in the day, they don’t sleep at night. And they are more clingy when we are away from home and they don’t know what to expect.
I talked to a friend of mine who is a psychologist about how to reduce stress in the holiday season and here are some of his tips for at home and if you are away;
- If you are stressed, your child will be stressed – Christmas is a time when there are lots of stressors on parents (Christmas shopping anyone?), then as a result we are less available to our kids. Make time just to be with your kids if you can.
- Explain your expectations to your children – if you are out or away, let them know what you expect. For example when I go to the shops at Christmas time, I let my kids know I won’t be buying any toys, but that we can put anything they see on their wish list.
- Bored kids are cranky kids – put out toys or activities and cycle them so that they have different things to do or choose from each day. Plan to go to the park or the mall for the free activities, visit friends or plan a special outing.
- Make options, not plans – having ideas of things to do during the holidays can help you feel in control but think of them as options instead of plans. Change your ‘options’ if you need to, to suit your children’s mood, the weather, your budget etc. Choosing one ‘option’ over another is easier, but for me, when I don't do something as planned, that's when I feel like I am failing leading to more holiday stress.
- Tell your child what is about to happen – children like predictability and routine. It makes them feel safe. When we are somewhere new, I try to tell our kids as much about how things will happen as I know.
- Try to do something that gives back in some way – teaching children about kindness to others and charity is an important learning and Christmas and holidays can provide an opportunity to do this. It's a great time to clean out your cupboards and donate the things you don’t need or make or buy something to donate.
- Talk to your partner (or family) in private about things that bother you – Christmas can be a time when there are lots of stresses on parents and as a result, arguments with those close to us are easy to happen. Try to keep this away from kids if you can.
- Stick to your budget– easy to say, but decreases your stress if you can manage it!
- Free presents, for a limited time - A great holiday resource is your local library. Children can get books, comics, music CDs or movies and to them it is just like getting another present, even if they have to return it after 7-14 days, when they can choose another. Mine love it. Win-win!
Hope your holidays are stress-free. Have a lovely break from the LTSRP team Xx