Twas mid-December, and the pressure is building
As parents scramble to fill a list that is growing
The children are bouncing off of the walls
With visions of presents and huge popcorn balls.
And what do Mom and Dad wish the most
During this season of gifts and being a host?
To find some peace in the middle of the noise
And to recapture that feeling of Christmas joys.
If you find yourself at your wits’ end this time of year, here are some tips for surviving Christmas and New Year’s.
1. Know your children’s limits. Meltdowns generally happen when kids are tired, cranky and/or hungry. One way to help a child not have a temper tantrum is to ensure they are not constantly overtired and overwhelmed.
For example, if the kids are young, don’t skip too many naps or push bedtime back too often. If large crowds tend to over-stimulate them, such as at a party, find a quieter space for them to decompress during the evening. Just keeping an eye on the clock and leaving
2. Be prepared.Having the resources to help a child avoid a meltdown is just smart parenting. For example, when our children were toddlers, we would bring a snack with us when going to my in-laws for dinner because the meal would usually be served later than the children were used to eating. Making sure the children had a snack helped them not become overly cranky waiting for dinner.
Having an “entertainment” bag with favorite books, drawing pad/coloring book with colored pencils or crayons, small stuffed animals or plastic figurines or cars can be a great way to help a child find something to do at locations that aren’t as kid-friendly as your home.
3. Remember your own childhood excitement. Let’s face it—this time of year, we as adults sometimes get way too busy and stressed to really recall the magic of Christmas, the thrill of ringing in the New Year. That “amnesia” can make us short with our kids’ natural exuberance about presents and seeing family and Santa.
Think about how much you enjoyed about the holidays and keep that image and feeling in mind as you hear your children’s squeals of excitement, see them bouncing around the house, and generally become nearly overwrought with anticipation. Having that empathy will help keep our own Scroogeness in check.
4. Relax and enjoy the holidays. Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect—truly it doesn’t! Finding just the right gift, or baking the perfect cookies, or selecting the best tree on the lot shouldn’t be our aim this time of year. We should remember that Christmas is less about things and more about people.
But if we run around frantic to create the most perfect Christmas ever, we will inevitably lose out on the enjoyment to be found in the quieter moments. Don’t overlook the magic of family traditions, such as driving around in pajamas looking at Christmas lights. Those are the memories that your children will take with them into adulthood.
Use this guide to have your own very Merry Christmas!