Author: Karen Copeland
Ah, December. A time when routine goes out the window; your senses explode with color, music, and crowds; your eating habits include more sugar and not so healthy snacks; and your irritability level starts to feel a little bit unmanageable.
I do not hate December, but I also know the challenges it brings my way. Not only because of how it impacts my kiddo, but also how it impacts me. The first few weeks of December seem to result in an increase in school refusal and anxiety in our house. It also results in me not wanting to venture much further than the shops that are nearby my house, and if I do, I definitely go before noon. Everyone is just that little bit more on edge, and it doesn’t take much to set off a meltdown – in the kids and the adults.
Funny though. With all the build up in the first weeks of December, when the kids come through the door after their last day of school leading into the holidays, the irritation decreases. It is like we can all breathe again. At least for a little bit. Having that short period of breathing space is the perfect opportunity to re-group and get ready for the rest of the holidays.
I wrote this message to families in 2013.
Managing the Holidays
We are coming up on our two week Christmas break. I know for many families, this break in the school year will be welcome…at least for the first few days! This is certainly not a stress free time of year, so I wanted everyone to be aware of a few different ways to manage the holiday break.
My number one strategy for getting through the holidays is to recognize and honor your limits. When I say “your”, I am not only referring to yourself, but also to your child and your family. It is so easy to feel like we need to do it all over the holidays, but I want you to know that it is okay to say “You know what, I just don’t think we can handle it today.” It is really important to honor your child’s capabilities at this time of year as well. After all, we know the perils of overstimulation – crowds, lights, noise, the pressure to always be on the go, go, go. For our family, having a quiet day at home means better family relationships versus increasing frustration because one or all of us are having difficulty coping with a situation.
Another great way to manage the holidays is to honor your child’s strengths. This is the perfect opportunity to spend some time with your child simply embracing their strengths and having some fun. This might be as simple as sitting down and having your child teach you how to play his/her favorite video game. It is easy to get caught up in the challenges that we face with our children, but if we can take some time over the holidays to honor their strengths, we are creating confidence not only in our child, but also ourselves.
I hope all of you are able to take time out for you over the holidays. Sitting with a hot cup of tea, thinking about all the good things you do as a parent (and you ALL do GOOD things!); having a hot bubble bath; or enjoying a coffee/tea with a friend. Self care is incredibly important – remember if you don’t take care of yourself, it becomes that much harder to take care of your child. I have found it helpful to make a list of things I can do for self care when I am calm, so when I really need to take a break I can simply look at the list and choose an activity – instead of trying to think of one in the moment!
Finally, I would like to honor all of you this Christmas Season. I honor your strength, your commitment and your love for your children. This is not an easy parenting path; know that none of us are perfect on this journey. Our imperfections, however, allow us the opportunity to explore and learn new, creative ways to support our children, our families and ourselves.
With gratitude and respect,
Don’t forget to download the Enjoying the Holidays Tip Sheet to share with your extended family and friends!