- Have a pre-Christmas family meeting.
Talk about your expectations and concerns. Let your children know that you understand Christmas is fun but has some difficult elements too. Listen to your children’s expectations and concerns. Maybe renegotiate some key rules for the holiday season.
- Stick to your regular routine as much as possible.
If your kids are used to the outdoors three times a day in school, then make efforts to get them outside every day. It doesn’t need to be fancy. A walk in the park or a play in the garden can do wonders for everyone’s mood. Don’t let bed-time slide too much. Or if you do, expect the tiredness and grumpiness that goes with it!
- Lower your expectations.
It might seem odd, but if you expect your children to be badly behaved at least some of the time, then you’re more likely to be pleasantly surprised by how well they manage to behave much of the time!
- If you relax the rules (e.g. about sugar or bed-time), then be relaxed about the consequences of rule-breaking as well.
It might be clear to you that being allowed to stay up late does not automatically mean that you can now put your feet on the furniture. You can still enforce important boundaries and limit unacceptable behavior. But do it in a spirit of goodwill.
- Allow time for rest.
It may be tempting to fill every available day with trips and visits. But there’s a good reason why one day a week has historically been a day of rest: WE NEED IT. Give yourself and your children time to recharge your batteries. Read a book, play some board-games, have a nap in the afternoon. Avoid falling into the trap of needing a holiday to recover from your holiday!
- Brush up on your parenting skills beforehand.
Remind yourself of all the tricks in your toolbox. Re-read or listen to your favorite parenting tips. Prepare yourself to stay detached. Remember that your children generally don’t deliberately manipulate you. Praise yourself and them A LOT for what you’re doing well. Give everybody – including yourself – a lot of empathy
- Have FUN!
We’re often so busy teaching and guiding and disciplining our children that we forget to just let go and have fun with them. Children have playful spirits and they LOVE when their parents play with them – especially their mothers who tend to “do” physical play less often. Rejuvenate your spirit by playing with your children this holiday.