The holidays are a fun and exciting time, but they can also be very overwhelming and stressful for parents and children. Here are 4 tips we recently shared with our foster parents that are applicable to all families:
1) While big parties and meals are fun, they may be challenging for kids. Between different foods (often high sugar), sensory overload and likely lots of activity, we can expect for our kids to become disregulated. Behavior may become an issue leaving parents frustrated, embarrassed or even having the "I can't take you to do anything fun" feeling. This is a good time to set everyone up for success. Making the child's world small and predictable will create a more successful and enjoyable holiday season.
2) Set the bar low. Lower your expectations for elaborate holiday events, house preparation and activities. More than anything our kids want more time with caregivers. Make your activities about family time not things. Make homemade decorations, have movie night or drive around to see lights. Kids will love the time with you and will have fewer opportunities for disregulation.
3) Routines, transitions and predictability. Remember, kids need a balance of structure and nurture. By having a predictable schedule and built in routines, you will experience less fear-based behavior. Get out the calendar and let them know the plans for the season and well as the plans within each day. This will reduce fear and improve brain chemistry allowing for higher-level thinking and more fun!
4) Lastly, self care. The holidays are wonderful but are also a lot of work with kids home for 2+ weeks. Small moments in the day to recharge is a great way to stay engaged. Make a plan to do a little something for yourself each day.