Reducing stress on kids during the holidays
Hey, mommies and daddies, are the holidays stressing you out? I, for one, admit it – yes, they do. And I can understand why “mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again.”
But did it ever occur to you that the holiday season can also be stressful to kids? According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the holidays can also bring stress and confusion to kids. And situations like recent changes in the family structure, e.g. divorce, separation, remarriage, and illness or death of a close family member are just some of the reasons for this. “The holidays often remind children of what’s changed and what’s now different“, according to an APA child and adolescent psychiatrist.
To help both parents and children alike to cope with the stress that the holiday will possibly bring, the APA gives some practical tips. The key points, according to the APA, are preparation, patience and honesty/openness.
Even without the dramatic transitions and major conflicts mentioned above, the change in routine and too much excitement may become too much for kids. For this reason, here’s what we did/are doing to reduce the stress on my kids:
- We make sure the kids get enough sleep. We are a bit flexible about bedtime during the holidays but we don’t overdo it either. We also encourage naps – a nice break for kids and adults!
- We try to keep to our normal daily routine. True, we tend to have breakfast later than usual, but the 3-meals-a-day is a must during our normal eating times, give or take an hour. No skipping meals. And no overeating either.
- We keep the kids moving. We go for walks, be it around the block or a day trip to the mountains. Weather permitting, the kids spend at least an hour playing outside each day.
- We never give in to the convenience of TV. It’s a great distraction for the kids; it gives us parents some breathing space. But it’s also dangerous to get use to it. So our TV rules during the holidays remain the same – 30 minutes a day max.
We try to keep to our normal routine whether we are at home, visiting at grandma’s or at a holiday place – with a bit of flexibility, of course. After all, the holidays are about having fun.
At the end of the holidays, we observe it’s easier for the kids to get back to their normal schedule. Besides, when kids are not stressed, it’s less stressful for us parents, too.
So how about you? How do you keep your sanity during the holiday season?