Establish Routine - It is no surprise that establishing a daily routine will lend to a more peaceful day. But, how do you do this when the regular routine of going to school is not in place, for example during the holidays. It is important to try to keep your daily routines in tact as much as possible. For example, if you eat breakfast at the table each morning, try to do that most days.
Be Flexible - Because your daily schedule may not be the same over the holiday break, you have to have some flexibility. For example, let's say your daily wake time is at 6:30am, then make it later during the time off school. What is important is to try to have your wake time be similar (if not the same) most days. Being flexible with your schedule will help your child to not feel anxious when their daily routines are interrupted.
Make Traditions - This can be a fun time with your children! Make a holiday tradition that you will carry on year after year. It can be a simple as decorating cookies together, going shopping as a family for each other, make an advent calendar, go to a holiday event, like a play or a performance. Having traditions will help a child to look forward to that same yearly routine.
Be Aware of Too Much Sugar - There is ample research that supports that an increase in sugar into a child's diet can effect their energy, mood, and sleep. This is a hard one with all those sweets at our finger tips over this time of year! Try to limit the number of sweets each day. Maybe have your child have a sweet once or twice a day and not a little throughout the day. Also, be aware of the time of day you are eating the sweets. Some children cannot have sweets in the afternoon, for the possible disruption into their sleep patterns.
Establish the Same Sleep Routine - Similar to above about establishing routines, even if they have to be altered, sleep patterns are key. The National Sleep Foundation recommends preschoolers age 3 to 5 years receive 10 to 13 hours and school age children 9 to 11 hours each night. Even if your bedtime and wake time change, try to stick to getting the recommended amount of sleep each night.
Prepare Children for meeting new people - There will be lots of opportunities at various occasions that children will be put in new places situations over the holidays. Sometimes, meeting new people can bring on a bit of anxiety for children. The younger children may fear being left with the new people. The older children may worry that they will have to talk to the new people. Before going to the event, go over the people you know they will encounter. Also, helping role play what to say to new people will help lower their fears.
Help Visiting Family Members Understand Your Routines - When family comes to visit, whether it is grandparents and/ or cousins, etc., helping them to understand your family routines will keep for a smooth transition. Children can easily become overwhelmed with lots of people all of sudden being in their space. They may even have to give up their room to a relative. If that is the case, help to establish a space for them. Maybe even allow them to bring stuffed animals, blankets and a familiar object from their room into their new space. By letting the visiting guests and/or family know your routines and expectations prior to the visit will help minimize stress on all. The guests will be glad to know how to "fit in".
Unplug - Understandably, as parents, this is difficult. We even shop from our phones, so unplug within reason. This time out of school is a perfect time to do an activity that you don't get to do as often. Plan a field trip in your hometown, go to a museum, go for a hike (if the weather permits), or go to a playground. Enjoy the outdoors, even if it is cold, bundle up and take a walk with the family. Your children and us as adults all need a screen break. Think about setting a time each day where all put their phones down and do one of the above activities. An engaging home activity is to all pick a question from a jar and all have to answer it. These questions can be silly to more heart-felt.
Drink Plenty of Water - With the temperatures changing, our bodies need more hydration. It is recommended that children ages 4 to 8 years old have 5 cups daily. This amount increases to 7 to 8 cups for children 9 to 13 years old. Research shows that more than half of all US children are not getting adequate hydration. When children are out of their routines, they simply forget to drink enough water. It is hard enough when routines are in place. If need be, make a simple check list or set a reminder in your phone to have your children drink more water.
Prepare for Re-Entry - Once the holiday is nearing over, it is important to prepare children to re-enter back into their school routines. A few days before, start to talk about what are they most looking forward to going back to school. Make a fun list or make a collage of your holiday memories. Focus on the positive of how the holidays have been fun and less on the worry of school starting. This re-entry time can bring on lots of emotions for adults and children. Preparing ahead is the key.
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