As the holiday season approaches (quickly!), parents may find themselves both excited and apprehensive about the upcoming school break. While the holidays can bring joy and festivities, the extended time off from school can pose difficulties for both parents and kids. Let’s talk about some practical tips to help prepare, so that the holiday break can be a positive experience for the whole family.
1. Establish Realistic Expectations: It is essential to set realistic expectations for the holiday break. I totally understand the want for picture-perfect moments and sustained joy, but it is crucial to understand that not every day will go as planned. Be flexible and adaptable, and be ready to allow room for spontaneity and unexpected changes!
2. Create a Flexible Schedule: Kids thrive on routine, even during the holidays. Especially now that they have been in school for a while, a routine is more common than not for them. For the best of both worlds, develop a flexible schedule that includes some structured activities and some downtime. This can help maintain a sense of normalcy while allowing for the freedom that comes with a break from school.
3. Open Communication: Encourage your kids to communicate regularly and openly with you. Create a safe space for them to express their feelings, whether it's excitement, anxiety, or anything in between. This includes talking about the above-mentioned schedule with them, to see what their thoughts and feelings are. This open communication can help alleviate stress for both parents and kids.
4. Engage in Quality Family Time: Use the holiday break as an opportunity to connect with your kids in a way that a busy schedule sometimes doesn’t allow. Plan activities that everyone can enjoy, such as game nights, movie marathons, or outdoor adventures. Quality time together can help encourage a sense of belonging and strengthens family ties.
5. Encourage Independence: While spending time together is important, also allow your kid to explore their interests independently, if they wish. This creates and encourages a sense of autonomy and allows them to pursue activities that bring them joy and fulfillment.
6. Mindful Self-Care for Parents: Parents often prioritize their kid’s well-being but may neglect their own self-care. Take moments for yourself to recharge and relax. Whether it's reading a book, taking a walk, or practicing mindfulness, prioritize activities that contribute to your own mental and emotional well-being. Refer to this previous post on self-care!
7. Plan for Social Interactions: Create opportunities for your kid to connect with friends and extended family members. Being social and connecting with others can contribute to a more enjoyable holiday break. It also helps them feel connected to friends when they aren’t able to see them while in school.
8. Address and Manage Expectations: Kids may have their own expectations for the holidays. Address these expectations with understanding and honesty. Manage disappointments by focusing on the positive aspects of the season and creating new traditions as a family.
The holidays can be incredible and joyful time for families when approached with awareness and mindfulness. By setting realistic expectations, allowing open communication, and prioritizing family time and individual pursuits, parents can create a positive and memorable holiday experience for their kids. Remember, the key is to embrace the season with flexibility, patience, and a genuine appreciation for the time spent together.
I (Gillian) am the owner of Tavernier Therapy Group. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Provider and a Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider. I work with teenagers who struggle to connect with their parents and am currently accepting clients! Take a look around my website and get to know me. I look forward to hearing from you!