How to keep everyone calm and happy through the Christmas Holidays? It’s all in the plan – so make one! Here’s how.
Make a plan – manage expectations
Kids get a sense of security when they know what’s going on but they see the holidays as a mish-mash of excited expectations and un-predictability. Last summer our little one was expecting to pack up and go away the moment school was out. She was mega disappointed to discover a 2-week wait but worse, if we hadn’t made a plan, we’d never have known why she was so cross! It cheered and calmed her no end when she could see and plan what was actually happening. Expectations managed. Phew!
In fact, I think that in life for all of us this can make a big difference. When we’re upset, it’s often just a question of mis-managed expectations, and especially during holiday times when we can easily get upset and angry with our family. Just think – what are my expectations for this situation? When you start to see that it’s simply an expectation mis-match, it can make everything seem so much more manageable.
Pin it up where everyone can see
When your kids are readers you can have a holiday chart blu-tacked on the kitchen door. But it doesn’t have to look like this. 2-year-olds can understand pictures and symbols and be involved too. Everyone loves to know what’s going on and count down to special events. It also means the end of the holiday doesn’t come as a nasty surprise too!
How to do it
Start by printing or drawing out a table or calendar and fill out fixed events that are unmovable. Then the fun part begins.
Get everyone to contribute
Schedule a sit down and ask everyone to contribute their ideas. Be clear that not everything will be possible but have a brainstorm where no suggestion is too silly. After that you can slot things into your planner and give reasons why other things can’t be managed – too expensive, too little time, too faraway, whatever. Always include at least one of each person’s ideas in the final draft!
Keep it real
Schedule in some down time as well as fun events. This doesn’t just keep expenses down but it’s enjoyable too. Most children have a pretty relentless schedule of school and activities and it’s a sign of our times that it’s a treat to chill out at home with the toys.
Even on your chilling days – and even on chilly days – it’s best to get everyone outside. Take at least half an hour come rain or shine to play ball in your garden, go for a walk or make a trip to your nearest park. The whole family will benefit from the chance to blow of steam and children look adorable with rosy faces!
Of course, if you have younger kids, see if they’d like to ‘play yoga’ – with one of Jo Manuel’s classes.
Playdates are really important to children but the Christmas hols can be a bit short to fit it all in. Meet up with a whole gang and you’ll solve the problem. Suggest something that people want to do anyway, like ice skating, and hey presto: no one has the pressure of hosting but the kids get to keep up with their friends.
Does holiday time ever make you feel like a slave? Sensible parents offset this by setting simple expectations, maybe related to pocket money. Train up school age kids to load the dishwasher, make their own bed and participate in a weekly tidy up. Let younger children sweep crumbs around the floor with a miniature broom or do some washing up (which results in the whole kitchen being soaked) so they learn to believe in themselves as helpers.
Make sure you use friends or family or the one eyed babysitter (the TV!) and schedule in time for yourself to keep up with some yoga. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty jug and you can’t be a super-parent if you haven’t invested in yourself. It doesn’t have to be much – which is why Jean Hall has given us 5 minute super-mum.
>>This is a 5 minute instant re-charge for any time of day or night. Take 5 for yourself and relieve those tired shoulders and busy mind>>
This post was written by Edith Johnson, dedicated mover and mother of 2.