As we approach the holidays being busy and preoccupied with shopping, wrapping, decorating, menu preparation, traveling, and children’s holiday shows or plays, remember to take time to de-stress. Sit back and relax, meditate, enjoy a cup of special blend coffee or calming tea, watch the traditional Christmas movies, read Christmas stories to the kids and don’t rush through them. Find a way to reconnect with your soul and spirit. Set aside 30-60 minutes to read, do yoga, and meditate. Planning for Christmas is key.
The letdown after Christmas is real. Search for this topic and you will find many articles, religious messages, and even poems about it. But, what about the letdown after you open presents Christmas morning and the question begs- what do I do now? What kind of time and activities should I plan for the kids…just the craziness of toys everywhere?
Plan your day! I don’t mean to over plan, I mean set up a schedule and be flexible about it. You do have to GO WITH THE FLOW!
First set an intention to be happy, grateful, appreciative, calm, and loving. Plan to accept some chaos, like not freaking out because there is wrapping paper all over the living room or family room. Be ready for the chaos and get more trash bags, put one out during the unwrapping, immediately after, or the night before with a big red bow on it! Why not make the trash festive, too.
Get up early, parents don’t sleep much Christmas eve! Eat breakfast. Make a breakfast coffee cake the night before. Cook whatever you want for Christmas morning, as long as you are happy about it. Some years I made bigger breakfasts than usual with pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Then, I made sure my husband cleaned up or he entertained the kids while I cleaned up. Other years I just made a coffee cake the night before to put out with orange juice and eat while opening gifts. Not as nutritious, but easy and nutrition came for lunch and dinner.
Expect your kids to play with their toys. Set aside the rest of the morning to have the kids play with their new toys, with and without you. You know your kids better than anyone else. Do they entertain themselves easily or do they need you to play with them? This also, of course, depends on the age of the child. Toddlers and preschoolers need someone to play with and suggest ways to play with the new toys. So, to some extent, you must build in time Christmas morning to play with your kids. Play the game they got. Get on the floor with cars and trucks, blocks or legos. Dress up those dolls. Play the video games. Play ball with inside balls or go outside for a little soccer kicking, catching, or making baskets.
Planning for Christmas:
Make a short list of general things to do: get up early, open stockings and presents, make breakfast, kids with free play, play with kids and their new toys, pick up wrapping paper, tidy up a wee bit, and get outside for some fresh air, sunshine and playing or just walking in the neighborhood wishing a Merry Christmas. Exercise helps fend off the letdown feeling after opening presents and the physical energy brings out some happy hormones. Be sure to buy a movie or two and watch one in the midmorning and one in the afternoon or evening! Definitely buy at least one new book for each child, so you have it to read at naptime and bedtime. See how I know to use the item for filling up some time….am I sneaky or what?
On with our “short list of general things to do”. Make lunch and make it a favorite. If it is naptime in your house in the afternoon, read that new book with a favorite oldie one. If your kids don’t nap, create a “rest” time. Let them watch a new movie. You can watch it, too, or you can go nap! Or, you can go do some yoga or meditation. Next, play some more with your kids.
Get ready to go to grandma’s house or other relatives. Of course, tell your kids who you are visiting and where. Help them know what to expect there- sharing gifts, eating food, interacting with relatives or friends. Take a couple of toys or games to entertain themselves. If you want good behavior, go through the “when we get there….” talk. Ask them for questions. Ask them,” how are you going to occupy your time?” Get out any poor expectations before you leave. Come on, if you have teenagers, especially, you know they will be tired and bored pretty quickly!
Another thing I usually did was give a creative gift, some kind of arts and crafts. This is a great item for when they say, “I don’t have anything to do!” Don’t give any that are too messy, preferably no glue, but glue stick is ok. It could even be a holiday craft that could be used for the dinner festivities or as some gifts for the cousins or aunts and uncles. Get creative with this, so you’re not spending a tone on gifts to relatives from your kids.
Getting through the holidays with happy children can seem daunting! During these holiday times, thinking of your child as behaving badly makes you want to discipline them, even harshly. Instead, think of your child as struggling to handle something difficult, empathize with their situation and help them through their distress. Christmas can be overwhelming for children and they may not be “perfect”. So, give a little leeway and understanding, maybe a short time-out or consoling, a short discussion, and get them back in the festivities as soon as you can.
Pay attention to your kids and offer suggestions or to change things up if you notice they are getting crabby or tired. Anticipate how your child may react to transitions and disappointment for not getting something they wanted and try to role-play and empathize about this in advance. Prevention works best. Nobody wants a complete melt-down.
Listen to Christmas music and sing along! If there’s a piano, get playing and singing. This can lift the spirit. This holiday is about Christmas, after all.
Finally, laugh, tell jokes, and tell the kids how funny they were at Christmas’s past.
Laugh and Make Fun! Also, see my blog about the art of giving in Helping Children Give Gifts for the holidays.
Merry Christmas! I’d love comments on how you get through the holidays keeping things calm and pleasant. Post them below. Let us all know how you are planning for Christmas.
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