It is easy to believe that kids have it easy over the holidays. They don’t need to do any holiday baking, hosting, and entertaining guests or even have to manage a whirlwind schedule of mandatory holiday parties. They will most probably be tasked with helping get the house in order, but that’s pretty much it.
Or is it?
Even though they don’t have to manage everything, it doesn’t mean they don’t also experience a great deal of stress around the holidays. So how do you help your kids unwind during the holidays?
4 Tips To Help Your Kids Unwind During the Holidays
Most stress comes from having to interact with lots of people, most commonly extended family members they barely know. All the new sensory input from having so many new faces in their home, their safe space, can be taxing and spur up anxiety episodes.
Therefore, find ways to reduce stress during the holidays and help them unwind. Here are four ways you can help them reduce stress and enjoy the holiday season:
Give them some alone time
While you may be exasperated when your kids hole up in their room for hours (or sometimes even days) on end over the holidays, it is important to remember that the holidays are often socially and emotionally taxing for them.
Some children absolutely love the hustle and bustle of the holidays. However, most of them will need some time off, especially if your child is an introvert or has special needs.
When it comes to marshaling resources, negotiation is key. Instead of forcing your children to be available whenever you have guests constantly, try negotiating. Set a certain amount of time that your children need to come out and be social before they are allowed to return to their room.
In some cases, it may be as little as 15 minutes but give both yourself and them a break.
Social obligations and commitments may be a part of life, but they don’t need to be overwhelming either. A little alone time will go a long way to help your kids unwind during the holidays.
Set a good example
Like it or not, you and your children will both be highly affected by each other’s stress levels. When you are stressed, they will be stressed, which in turn may only add to your stress levels.
The time to break this cycle is long before the holidays set in.
- When you feel obligated to overspend and overtax your social and emotional resources, they will too.
- When you feel compelled to attend every event you are invited to, they will too.
- When they watch you carefully budget and manage both your money and your emotional resources, they will feel free to do the same.
Before the holidays set in, set a budget of both time and money that you have to spend over the holidays.
Budgeting your time is every bit as important as budgeting your money. In early fall, it doesn’t hurt to sit down with your calendar and figure out your committed engagements. From there, determine how much time each week you have to spend on other engagements or commitments.
If you are already overbooked as it is, that means it is time to get aggressive about saying no to new commitments. This will help both you and your kids unwind during the holidays.
Schedule family time or time alone with your kids and guard it zealously
Over the holidays, parents can get caught up in trying to fulfill all the social and financial obligations. They feel so pressured to meet these obligations, that they can forget about all about the simple joy of just spending time together.
No matter what Madison Avenue wants you to believe, the one thing your kids want more than anything for Christmas is to spend time with you.
American families are only spending around 37 minutes of quality time together on an average weekday and that 73% of children want more.
Taking your children with you to social events is not the same thing as spending time with them.
Simply having them in the house at the same time as all of your extended family is also not spending time with them.
You are, by far, the most important person in their world. If they don’t feel they are relatively equally important in yours, that can create a great deal of stress and anxiety. These feelings, in turn, will impact your stress levels as well.
Let technology help you a bit here. Every day, take some time and play a few educational games together. Nowadays, games are more than just a pass time.
Some games can significantly reduce their stress levels and even help them better endure the obligatory social whirlwind of the holidays.
Redefine what it means to be “busy.”
In America, having a chronically overpacked schedule and a never-ending whirlwind of activities demanding our time has become something of a badge of honor.
It can become very easy to labor under the misguided notion that being “busy” means to be doing something at all times literally.
What this also means, however, is that when you want to schedule some family time, you may be unable to do so because of your children’s overpacked schedules.
thinking of being busy as simply being not available for other things. If you
are having a quiet night at home with your kids, then you are, in fact, busy. If you need some quiet time to
yourself, that too means you are busy.
Help Your Kids Unwind During the Holidays
As joyous as the holidays may be, it is also no secret that stress and depression are also highest during the holidays as well. In part, this is due to the unreasonable expectations we can sometimes have over how much happiness the holidays are supposed to bring us.
Simply packing your schedule full of events and activities (and those of your children) is not likely to bring an increase in your happiness levels. It will more than likely simply lead to a massive increase in stress instead.
Managing the holidays well for both you and your children will often involve a shift in mindset about what matters.