This year has brought many unexpected challenges, changes, and new responsibilities. Parents have taken on a variety of new roles while juggling many more things from home than they are accustom to. With all the stresses and changes with school for some being in person, then not, then in person again, or with managing everything from home, the holidays may feel particularly overwhelming this year. For others it may feel like a reprieve from having to organize and entertain larger numbers of family or community members. Either way things will be different for everyone this holiday season. Keep in mind that schedules will be different around the holidays and that can increase anxiety, stress, boredom or behavior challenges in children. Here are some pointers to get you through the holidays and the winter break from school.
- Providing as much predictability, structure and routine as you can, will help to keep things as smooth as possible. For example, consider keeping much of the schedule the same when school is out as it was during school. It minimizes the transitions that everyone has to adjust to and keeps things consistent.
- Manage expectations by explain to your kids what to expect during their time off from school this year. What will they be able to do to fill their time? What will you be doing work wise? Also manage expectations about the holidays. Discuss as a family how you will be celebrating this year and with who. How might you stay connected to family you would normally see in person but are not this year?
- Discuss safety being up front about how COVID may be changing your holidays. If you are seeing people in person what safety precautions will you be taking and expect your kids to take?
- If your kids will need to spend time occupying themselves independently while you work plan and prepare some activities so you can be sure they have everything they need to minimize the need to interrupt you. Now is a good time to order some craft supplies or activities for your kiddos or the family to do during the winter break.
- Listen to how your kids are doing and talk to them about how they feel. Validating feelings through supportive listening can go a long way. If your kids are bored that is a great opportunity for them to use their creativity and do things they might not normally do or find fun new adventures.
- If money is tight, get creative with making decorations together form things you have around your home. If you have the time you can also get creative with making gifts together with your kids for extended family members.
- Try to find time to do enjoyable activities together as a family amid the hustle and bustle of busy daily lives.
- Find time for parent self-care, whether that is something you do individually, as a couple or as a family.
- Focus on the positive and spend time as a family reflecting on positive memories from this year, any fun new experiences, and cherished memories from years past. Try to enjoy each other and the holidays even though they may be different this year.
Remember it is okay to be overwhelmed yourself. It is okay to do less this year. It is okay to do things differently this year. We are all doing our best to juggle so many things and navigate this new landscape. Use your support network when you need them and hang in there! You may even stumble across some new holiday traditions that you decide to keep.