Are you a parent or caregiver feeling added holiday stress? These 5 tips can help!

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. 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. 

The "extras" of the holidays mean that your child’s daily routine will still be disrupted, and that’s okay! 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, extended family, childcare, 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.

Palmetto Basics wishes you and yours a very happy holiday season!

 

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! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence! 


Using everyday conversation to help build math skills with your little one!

In everyday ways, you're helping your child learn basic math concepts without realizing it. Think about the words you use each day as you talk with your child:

Your diaper bag is heavy.  //  Let's go up the stairs.  //  Eat three more bites and you can get down from the table.

Becoming good at math begins long before a child enters school. Even infants are wired to learn simple math ideas, including small numbers, patterns, and making comparisons. YOU have all that you need to prepare your child to be a problem solver. Using "math language" as you go through daily life is one of the easiest ways to build math skills.

Here are 3 simple ways to begin:

1. Count out loud. Children can count strings of numbers before they understand what numbers mean. Toddlers and young children LOVE to count. Seize their enthusiasm by making counting part of your everyday life.

- If you’re walking to the mailbox, “Let’s count as we walk!”

- As you push her on the swing, count in rhythm with each push.

- When you snap his onesie or pajamas, count with each snap.

 2. Connect numbers to groups of things. This begins to teach them that numbers represent things, that "3" (for example) stands for 3 blocks. Here are simple ways to help your child connect numbers to groups of things.

- As you’re getting groceries, “How many apples am I getting? 1-2-3. 3 apples!”

- When it's bedtime, “Go get two books and we can read them.”

- If your baby is eating in her high chair, “Let’s count your Cheerios. 1-2-3-4.” Then group them into a cluster a 4.

- When you’re changing your baby’s diaper or putting on his socks, “Let’s count your toes! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10.”

 3. Talk about size, distance, and shapes. This helps children learn important concepts about measurement, space, and shape. Being mindful of these concepts will help you talk to your child in ways that are intentional, but still simple.

- When you're loading groceries into the car, “This bag is heavy! Can you hold it and feel how heavy it is?”

- As you’re walking outside, “Wow, that is a big leaf! Can you find a smaller leaf?”

- To talk about concepts like distance, “We have a long walk to the park, don’t we? Is the walk to the mailbox long or short?”

- Begin pointing out shapes wherever you go and your child will begin to do the same. “The tires on our car are a circle. Do you see something that’s a circle?”

There are countless ways to use math language throughout your day. You don’t have to set aside extra time or buy fancy educational toys. By including your child in everyday activities, talking about the things you see, touch, and do, you are building a valuable foundation for math!

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 #3, "Count, Group, and Compare," 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!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


Let "The Basics" help you make the most out of Halloween (with less stress!)

Like any holiday, Halloween can provide a lot of fun for young children and families, but it can also come with a lot of stress. The 5 Basics can be a great guide for navigating Halloween by being mindful of learning opportunities, while also being aware of what can be stressful for both you and your child. Here’s what we mean:

Basic #1: Maximize Love, Manage Stress // Halloween can be scary and overwhelming for little ones! Don’t dismiss their very real fears. Tell them it’s okay to feel scared and that you feel scared sometimes too! If your child is at a sensitive stage, avoid activities with frightening costumes or events that can scare them. Consider doing your trick or treating or local events early so that it’s not dark and in order to leave before it gets more crowded.

Moms, dads, caregivers—Halloween activities can be stressful for you too! You may be tired and overwhelmed right now. In order for you to love your child well, you need to first manage your own stress and honor your limits. It’s okay to leave early, to say no, and to keep things simple.

Basic #2: Talk, Sing, and Point // This is a perfect opportunity to talk to your child about what’s real and what’s imaginary. It’s also an opportunity to point and name what you see. Name the pumpkins, scarecrows, colors, lights, and candies. Small moments like these are big learning opportunities for little ones!

Basic #3: Count, Group, and Compare // Put that candy to good use! Count the pieces. Group by color, size, or type. Compare sizes and shapes.  

Basic #4: Explore Through Movement and Play // Trick or treating, fall festivals, and community events provide a perfect opportunity to get kids moving and playing!

Basic #5: Read and Discuss Stories // Check out a Halloween library book. Choose a favorite Halloween story that you read each year. You can also make up your own story and let your child make one up that they share with you!

Everyday life provides countless ways to do The Basics. But holidays like Halloween provide extra opportunities to learn how to manage your own stress, help your child feel loved, and turn traditions and simple moments into brain-building opportunities! 

 

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! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence! 


One Question That Will Help You Maximize Love & Manage Stress As A Parent

What does it really look like to “manage stress?” Parents and caregivers these days hear a lot about self-care as it relates to stress: everything from “practicing mindfulness” to “putting on their own oxygen mask first.” And while there is plenty of good advice out there, it can become overwhelming or sometimes feel impersonal and non-specific. After all, we don’t all feel stressed and overwhelmed by the same things, nor do we need to de-stress in the same ways.

What if you asked yourself one simple question instead: “What circumstances or conditions cause me the most stress?”

Here are a few examples?

  • When everyone needs you at once
  • Not making ends meet financially
  • Trying to balance work, home, family, other obligations; feeling overcommitted and overextended
  • Never having enough time or energy to get everything done
  • Family crisis on top of the stress of everyday life

 

You might need to sit with this for a moment. You might even need to consider a more foundational question: “How do I act or feel when stressed?”

Here are a few examples:

  • Snapping at those around you, particularly those within your family
  • Feeling anxiety in your body
  • Wanted to escape and go to sleep
  • Control and becoming obsessive about things
  • Feeling so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to begin

 

Let’s say that “trying to balance work, home, family, other obligations; feeling overcommitted and overextended” causes you the most ongoing stress. Perhaps you’ve noticed that when your mind and body remain in a state of feeling “amped up” because you have too much to do every single day, you snap at your children more or struggle to be respond to their needs in the way you want to.

What does it look like to do Basic #1: “Maximize Love, Manage Stress” in this situation? It could look like:

  • Saying no to extra responsibilities or opportunities you don’t have to take, even if it’s just for a season
  • Asking for help, even though it’s hard, just for a season
  • Realizing that when you are in a season of having too much on your plate, you know your tendency will be to snap or be short-tempered. Even simple tools can help manage stress in the moment (counting to 10 before you respond or taking deep breaths.)

 

Life is hard. Providing loving care and meeting everyone’s needs, while managing your own stress, sometimes means asking yourself important questions and finding practical solutions. And if you need help finding those practical solutions, talk to a trusted friend or family member. Two heads are better than one! Answering this question looks different for everyone, which means there's no "one size fits all" solution. 

The number one thing you can do for their child isn’t finding the best school or providing for all their wants; it’s managing your own stress so that you can be responsive to their most important needs with love, kindness, and patience.

 

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! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence! 


Everyday math activities that don’t feel like math

Building early math skills doesn’t have to be one more thing you need to do as a parent or caregiver. There are endless ways to make numbers and problem-solving part of everyday life with young children. Here are 3 simple ideas for weaving math into your daily rhythms!

1. Math in the kitchen

Measuring. Even if your young childr doesn’t understand the concept of numbers, you’re teaching them that numbers are part of everyday life. Young children love to scoop and pour, so you’re encouraging math skills in a way that’s a naturally fun activity for them.

Stir something a certain number of times.

Use “math words” as you cook. “The bag of flour is heavy.”  “A teaspoon is smaller than a tablespoon.” 

Stacking or nesting plastic containers teach young children about patterns and special reasoning (understanding location, direction, position.)

 If you have a kitchen scale, they can measure ingredients and talk about which one is heaviest.

 

 2. Math in the bath

Teach comparisons such a big, small, heavy and light. Having simple toys in the bathtub, such as plastic cups, is a fun way to do this. Simple conversations like these may not seem like math, but they are. 

“Which cup is big and which cup is small?”

“Pour the cup from up high. Now pour the cup from down low.”

“When you fill the cup with water, does it get heavier? When you dump the water out, does it feel lighter?

Talk about shapes, colors, and sizes of bath toys.

Use words like over, under, down, up during bathtime. “I’m going to pour the water down your back to rinse you off.” Or “Look up as I rinse your hair.”

 

3. Math during read-aloud time

Build early math skills during read-aloud time! There are lots of great books that cover counting, shapes, patterns, and colors but within the form of a story. Here are some of our favorites that can be found at your local library.

Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh: Children love this delightful story that introduces counting in a tale of a greedy snake and how the mice he caught to eat escaped.

Changes, Changes by Pat HutchinsThis book tells the story of a wooden family living in a house of blocks. Whenever a problem occurs, they must come up with a shape-based solution.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: This children’s classic follows a very hungry caterpillar and children love to count the foods as you read the story. 

Chicka Chicka 123 by Bill Martin & Michael Sampson: 101 numbers climb up the apple tree and wonder if there will be “a place for me.”

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni: A heartwarming book about a chameleon, colors, and companionship.

 

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey: 

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents count, group, and compare with their little ones.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!

If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.  

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!

 


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