Suddenly, the house looks different and there’s a lot of talk of Santa and presents. There are parties to attend, family members to visit and for children in school or pre-school there are plays/shows to put on and lots more Christmas chatter going on. It’s busy, it’s exciting but gosh is it ever overwhelming too.
Here are a few ways to help minimise the stress and disruption of December for your little ones:
• Try to keep things as normal as possible. It can be tempting to want to attend everything Christmas related, to take your children to see Santa in his grotto and to generally throw yourself head first into December’s festivities. But, it’s also important to keep things as normal as possible. Nap times, bed times and meal times are simple and important ways for children of all ages to keep some order to their days. Try not to make any major changes or move nap times too often even if that means missing something now and then.
• Go at their pace. If you’re making Christmas cards together, try to space it out over a few days rather than making it something to do all at once. Young children, in particular, can become quickly bored with larger craft projects. It’s recommended to stick to a couple of bigger crafts and to give them a couple of weeks to get through them at their own pace, rather than lots of little crafts or bigger crafts over a shorter time period. Be prepared for them to turn down things that they usually like, if they’re not interested in seeing Santa or making cards – they’re likely feeling a little overwhelmed and needing space.
• Unwind in nature. Take a break from December! Take a walk, jump in some puddles and go somewhere peaceful to just get away from all of the flashing lights and Christmas chatter. The quiet, still air and nature are very calming influences. A little barefoot walking, if it isn’t too cold, is also great for rebalancing and reconnecting with the earth.
• Plan in advance. Young children aren’t as into big surprises and spontaneous days out in the same way that adults are. Their world can quickly start to feel out of control which is stressful and anxiety inducing. Many parents will have noticed that there have been times when their child doesn’t seem to be enjoying something they were certain would be a hit and a lot of the time it comes down to simple planning. Discussing the next day’s events is a simple way to keep your children informed and feeling in control. Bigger events sometimes need a little more time.
• Fewer presents. It can be all too easy for parents to overboard with presents. If you’ve got facebook, you’ll have seen the endless stacks of presents that everyone seems to be presenting their child with this year. In reality, children can become bored or overwhelmed with too many gifts to open. One large gift and a few smaller ones are usually better received and played with more frequently, than being bombarded with masses of presents.
• Volunteer. Teach your children what Christmas is all about – the simple act of giving. Whether that’s gifts for loved ones or time and money for those in need, giving more and buying less is a more positive and much simpler way for everyone to spend their Christmas. Learning about those less fortunate and spending time helping them in some way is also grounding and helps children to take stock and keep balance.