Tips to sail through the hectic holiday season
Holidays are about family gatherings, gift shopping, traveling, and entertainment. As fun as they are, it can become stressful for both parents and kids in the absence of routine and rest. Kids ‘R’ Kids suggests some important tips to help manage the holiday stress and make the most of this season.
For kids, routine is an important foundation. But with the holiday season, the routine generally goes out the window replaced by sensory overload, social expectations, and physical exertion. This ambient stress impacts kids and can sometimes make holidays difficult.
Here are six ways to prevent and reduce holiday stress for children this season.
1. Retain the routine
Children thrive on routines but holidays take away that consistency. Parents can identify in advance which aspects of the child’s routine are likely to be disrupted during the holidays. Practicing flexibility before the actual change occurs helps children adjust to the change. Observe how the child responds to the change and make adjustments accordingly. These small steps to change their routine in anticipation can smoothen the transition. Having said that, parents should try to retain the routine around bedtime, playtime, and mealtime as much as possible.
2. Sensory Overload
Sensory Overload is when a person reaches the threshold for one or more sensory systems and can no longer process the information. Each sensory system has a threshold to which it accepts and processes sensory input. Once that threshold is met, the additional input sends signals but hits a roadblock with no detour signs.
Sensory overload can look different in every child. From uncontrollable crying and avoidance of people or places to outburst and aggression, every child responds differently. Parents must tune in to how their children respond to sensory inputs throughout the day. This will help them anticipate and plan the day according to their children’s needs. Parents can practice some sensory calming activities before stepping out for a get-together, check the sound levels, make unfamiliar items familiar, pick comfortable clothes to wear, and have realistic expectations from their children. Carrying familiar items and supportive tools such as headphones, blankets, chewies, favorite toys, or bubbles can go a long way in keeping a child feel calm and safe amidst all the sensory overload.
3. Family Expectations
Set expectations right. Share the needs of the child with family and friends who are visiting. Set boundaries on the time of arrival and departure as per the child’s routine and comfort. Share the child’s sensory needs, and let people know if/when they need to keep the noise level down.
Parents often overwhelm themselves with cooking and decorations. Ask for help with cooking or have a potluck instead to reduce mealtime stress. Use disposable plates and serve food in ready-to-store containers. Ask for help in cleaning up and washing dishes. Family get-togethers are about celebrating togetherness which includes receiving support where needed.
4. Expectations for yourself
A stressed parent means a stressed child. Children are very sensitive to ambient stress and pick up easily on the parent’s mood. Shopping for gifts or creating an elaborate meal can be a source of huge stress which may rub off on the child. They may react with their outbursts of aggression or upset.
Consider other ways to celebrate by creating new family traditions such as baking holiday cookies together, taking winter walks, driving to look at the lights and decorations, and sharing stories and photos of favorite holidays from past years. Creating traditions that support the joy of the holiday season are more realistic rather than following old traditions that create stress and do not match the current lifestyle.
5. Travel and staying over
Holiday visits must be spread out across the season to allow the child to enjoy every visit without becoming overwhelmed. Talking with friends and family ahead of time to let them know what the child needs will ensure everyone enjoys the celebrations. If possible, ensure that the child has their own space to unwind in at the host’s house, take the child out for some outdoor activities if the weather allows, and help the child get settled into the new atmosphere.
6. Home Renovations and Decorations
From shopping for and adding decorations to the house to moving furniture to make room for guests, holidays can often mean a lot of work and resulting stress. The time parents would spend with children often goes into taking care of these tasks. These changes in the attention and around the house can be stressful for children. Parents must prioritize what is important and what must be avoided to maintain an ambiance of harmony and joy. Parent can:
- Decorate with child-friendly items like soft toys and pillows.
- Let the child remove child-friendly decorations from the tree. Keep a container nearby to put them in.
- Place fancier decorations high up and out of reach, or avoid using them altogether this time to eliminate any climbing temptations.
- Give the child some decorations to play with.
- If making changes is going to be stressful, skip it this year.
Holidays are about the whole family enjoying every moment together. An upset child can make a holiday not so pleasant. So anticipate, plan, and be realistic during these holidays. It’s alright if all things don’t go as planned. Remember to take a break and do not overcommit. Kids ‘R’ Kids wishes all parents and their children a wonderful holiday season filled with harmony, fun, and good health.
Why Kids ‘R’ Kids?
The philosophy of “Hug First, Then Teach”, defines every aspect of what Kids ‘R’ Kids, Valrico stands for. Unlike many daycare centers or childcare providers, its methodology is a whole-child approach. It constantly strives to strengthen and encourage every child’s emotional, intellectual, social, and physical well-being through the expertise of its childcare providers and a unique partnership with parents.
Kids ‘R’ Kids International is accredited by AdvancED®, the world’s largest education community, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS/CASI). SACS/CASI is an accreditation division of AdvancED®. This accreditation ensures that the high accreditation standards are met and exceeded.