I used to love and dread the holiday season. As school breaks loomed on the calendar, I began to brace myself as the kids turned into little monsters with their tantrums and other meltdowns. It wasn’t until I saw things from their perspective before I began to truly enjoy this time of year. I realized the kids’ lives were slightly out of whack, instead of the normal everyday life, the holidays are filled to the brim with activities, shopping, eating out, visiting friends and family and more.
In other words, the routine, the schedule and what they are used to on a daily basis had gone wild.
Instead of trying to curb the behavior, let’s prevent the behaviors from happening. This time of the year isn’t meant to be frantic, it’s meant to be enjoyed as we celebrate how thankful we are for Jesus’ birth. Let the seasons of thanksgiving begin….with a few tips.
1. Don’t over schedule your children.
Avoid extra tasks and activities which are likely to overwhelm your kids. For example, schedule a playdate or time with the grandparents for long shopping trips. Shopping during the holiday season is stressful enough, adding a small child with a short attention span who likes routine makes things stressful.
If you have a friend who needs to do some shopping, offer to swap kids so she can shop without kids too. Everyone wins in a situation like this. Your kids have a playdate and you have free time. And when it’s your friend’s turn, your kids will be occupied as you get a few things down around the house.
2. Involve Your Kids in the New Schedule.
Instead of springing it on your kids at the last minute, keep them in the loop about what weekend plans, dinner parties and so forth. This helps bring the stress level down for your kids and helps prepare them for what will happen next.
3. Keep the Bed Time!
As much as possible keep the bed time as close as possible to the normal bedtime and keep the routine. If you read to your child every night before bed, keep doing so. Sticking with routines even at Grandma’s house helps your child rest well at night on top of getting to sleep on time while preventing meltdown’s.
4. Have activity-based celebrations.
Spend some down time with children making cards, decorations, cookies and gifts.
You may wish to let each child select one activity for the whole family to do over the holidays. This not only provides the perfect opportunity for you to have one on one time but also helps your child catch on to the joy of the season of thanksgiving and Christ’ birth.
5. Teach Hospitality.
Teaching your kids how they can help empowers them to make better choices during dinner parties. For more tips and a hospitality sticker chart, click here.
6. Make your home a Sanctuary.
Make your home a sanctuary from the overstimulation of the outside world by making family “quiet time” a part of every evening.
- Limit total screen time, including computer games, video games and time spent watching television. Advertisements scandalously target children and the more they watch, the more they soak up the commercial messages of the season…instead of the real spirit of the holidays.
- Have a turn off time for all devices. Keep phones, Ipods, Ipads, Tablets, TVs out of your children’s bedrooms and turned off a full two hours before bedtime. This allows your child’s minds to settle down!
- Tell or read Bible stories about Christ’ birth or other great holiday stories.
7. Encourage Compassion
Depending on the age of your kids, plan a way to teach your children compassion during the holiday season. By scheduling a chance to serve in the community, it gives you control over their schedules and teaches your children about the needs of others.
During the holiday rush of shopping, concerts, parties and more, remember the world H.A.L.T. It stands for Hungry, Agitated, Lonely, or Tired. When your child begins to melt down, ask yourself, if she is hungry or tired. This will help you pinpoint her needs and allow you to make adjustments as need to avoid meltdowns. For more about this great tip, visit Today’s Christian Woman.