Turning Down the Holiday Turmoil

This time of year often provides a whirlwind of social engagements and entertainments, as well as the varied and endless errands attendant on special occasions. You can get so caught up in all the things to do that you might get to the new year only too grateful that it’s all over. There are ways that you can find a little of the enjoyment this season brought you as a child, or at least more readily share in your child’s joy.

One thing that slips too easily is sleep- regular, reliable sleep. While it’s tempting to squeeze in one more thing on a busy day in a busy season, you just can’t overestimate the relief sleep can bring. A well-rested child is more likely to behave, and a well-rested adult is less likely to overreact, because sleep makes us all better at paying attention and increases our impulse control. Of course, there will be times when you just have to stretch bedtimes, but an otherwise regular sleeping schedule will help everyone weather a couple of exceptions better.

IMG_5798You might be lucky enough to be the most wanted guest at too many holiday tables. This is exhausting for adults, and almost an impossible feat for many children to handle gracefully. Consider whether it might be easier for you to host the factions at your home where you can get the meal out in a timely fashion, and other aspects of your child’s routine can be more easily honored. Another idea is to decide just how many holiday dinners you can enjoy in a day. Transitions are hard on everyone, and by the time your child is telling a second round family and friends farewell, they’ve already weathered at least three huge changes of scenery. For some, it might be easier to spread all the celebrating over a weekend instead of trying to see too many people on the exact day of the holiday.

If you do find yourself in a social spin, try to incorporate some downtime for you and your child. Regardless of age, we all benefit from a little recharge. Unstructured time at home or outside with no pressing demands can make the next gathering or round of errands a little easier to cope with.

IMG_0180Finally, try to have meaningful traditions and honor them. November and December can feel like a blur, but you can set guideposts of time amidst the hubbub. You can devote certain days to special baking or decorating. If you use holiday ornaments, you can put them up over a course of weeks, taking time to appreciate each step of the decorating process. Setting aside just a few minutes each day for special songs or stories, or even family stories, as a way to share your values and beliefs about this season with your children can help both you and your children feel connected to the importance of this season. Ultimately, these quite moments of connection might frame the memories you hope they will share later.