The holiday season can be a wonderful time for young children and for those who care for them. The festivities and traditions take on a magical quality when seen through the eyes of a child.
But as we all know, the holidays can also be a stressful time. Extra treats, later bedtimes, disruptions to normal family rhythms, financial strain, and the expectations of extended family can add to the stress. When you consider the unique challenges we face at the end of 2020, it’s no wonder we’re overwhelmed.
Here are 5 practical ways you can maximize love and manage stress this holiday season:
1. Stick to daily routines as much as possible.
Even though it’s a pandemic and there will be fewer parties and fewer things on the calendar, your child’s daily routine will still be disrupted. That’s okay because that’s life. But it’s important to stick to routines as much as possible. Why?
Routines provide comfort and stability for your child. Knowing what to expect helps them feel secure. They are less likely to have meltdowns when the day is following its usual rhythm. As much as possible, keep mealtimes, bathtimes, bedtimes, etc. the same.
2. Build in quiet time / down time for your child and for you.
Between the hustle and bustle of work, school, childcare, Zoom meetings, parenting, housework, and constantly being on screens, our brains and bodies need a break. When you factor in all the extras of the holidays, you and your child definitely need downtime!
Just 15-30 minutes of doing something calming and enjoyable can help you recharge. This is not a time for scrolling on a screen. Take a real break to rest, read, or sit outside. Let your child play with toys or look at books.
3. Get outside.
Even if it’s cloudy and you have to bundle up, sunlight, fresh air, and greenspace are good for the body, mind, and emotions. Nature provides peace and perspective, and also releases serotonin. Sunlight helps Vitamin D levels rise and helps boost your mood. Being outdoors has even been shown to help with focus and concentration. Sometimes, it simply helps your mental state to get a change of scenery.
4. Move your body and be sure your child gets plenty of movement and play.
Moving your body can help you and your child rest better and feel happier. Whether it’s stretching, yoga, going for a walk, or doing a workout online—movement boosts your body’s happiness chemicals and releases serotonin and endorphins, which help to stabilize mood and help you feel more positive about life.
If you have a baby, be sure they’re getting enough tummy time and movement. Toddlers and preschoolers need plenty of opportunities to run, jump, climb, and play.
5. Adjust your expectations.
Holidays can be a wonderful time with family and a break from the routine, but you can also experience the weight of others’ expectations and the burdens you place on yourself to provide a perfect holiday for your children. Here are 3 things we want you to know:
- Set boundaries. As a parent or caregiver, make decisions that are best for you and for your immediate family. If others try to make you feel guilty, remind yourself that your voice matters. Whether it's how much money to contribute toward a teacher gift or being expected to join extended family for gatherings, don't overextend yourself or your child just to make others happy. It’s hard to let people down, but you are the only one who can set the best boundaries for yourself, your child, and your family.
- Know that less really is more. The message of our culture is often that more = better! More spending and more presents! More activities and more festivities! But “more” of these things is not best for your child and it’s not best for you, especially when “more” often creates more stress in terms of spending beyond your budget and packing more into a holiday season than is reasonable.
- The best present is your presence. Your child needs a parent that is attentive, responsive, and calm. It’s hard to be that parent when you’re too busy, too preoccupied, and too stressed. Stress is part of life, but managing your stress—by setting boundaries and limits in all areas of life—is key to maximizing love with your child.
The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!
Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:
- Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #1, "Maximize Love, Manage Stress" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
- Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
- Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers! And we'll post specific resources that can help you during the coronavirus pandemic.
- If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org.
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