It’s the holiday season, and for parents, this joyous time of year can bring immense stress. The holidays are exciting and magical for young children, but they also can feel a bit overwhelming with family events, meeting new people, and attending holiday parties. If you are not mindful of the child in tow through all the hustle and bustle, their behavior may negatively reflect that. We have some solutions for you if you have holiday plans and a young child is experiencing holiday stress. Here are a few tips we share with our New Horizon Academy families that help lessen the holiday stress for everyone in the family.
1. Make a Plan
It may sound like you and the family are about to embark on a long journey, but this step is necessary to set clear expectations. This idea is to sit down with everyone for a few minutes before the event or gathering to give them a heads-up and create rules and boundaries. During this meeting, you will explain what is taking place at the event, the timeline, who will be in attendance, etc. Kids need a routine, and it helps them know ahead of time when something significant is happening that is outside of their norm. Establishing the rules, boundaries, and expectations beforehand will help with the confusion.
2. Know Your Child’s Limit
Knowing your little one’s limit is one of the best tips for parents that is often overlooked. Every kid is different, which means all kids will have different temperaments. Children show different reactions in social situations. Introverted children struggle more at parties, feel overwhelmed, and need a quiet place to feel safe. Extroverted children will likely thrive during the party but then show signs of a meltdown closer to leaving. When these situations come about, it is helpful to consider these needs beforehand and how to manage them.
3. Set Realistic Expectations
This tip is one of our favorite holiday tips for parents, which seems obvious, but often gets pushed aside. Try to set your child up for success. Refrain from expecting your toddler to act like an adult at a large social gathering. This is challenging for many parents because people expect them to attend dinners out, spend time with relatives, and more. Frankly, most of these events are not great for kids to attend. Too often, kids must come along. So, give yourself and your child grace when your child shows signs of a meltdown or lack of communication.
4. Don’t Rush
Although it is much easier said than done, parents try to attend events on time, but sometimes (most times) it doesn’t happen. With young children in the picture, always allow more time to get ready. Rushing at the last minute to get ready, pack up the car, and fix things adds stress to the event for everyone. Kids are emotional sponges. They will sense when you are stressed and often do not respond well.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Parents need to take care of themselves to take care of their families. Most importantly, and often neglected, take care of yourself to avoid holiday burnout. Whether you want to meditate, eat healthily, or exercise more, anything that makes you feel better and provides self-care should be a non-negotiable need.
6. Set Boundaries
Do relatives bring up uncomfortable topics? Are your friends excessively drinking? No one is perfect, so being mindful and staying calm about certain friends and relatives is critical. If you and the family do not want to be around toxic behaviors, you can limit the time you spend with them and set those boundaries. It is even acceptable to say no altogether.
7. Need Help? Ask for it!
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and if you have a child or multiple children, you know that is true! Now, add the task of sending out holiday cards, wrapping presents, and traveling to the already stressful life, and it can be too much to handle. Holidays are when people often take on more and have too much to accomplish. Do not be fearful to ask for help from family and friends.
Whatever tips you use from us to help you navigate the craziness of the holidays, remember, your kids love you and the holidays no matter what, and everything will be okay.