Keeping the Holidays Happy
Written by Emily Pollak, MSW, RSW
These are just some suggestions on how to cope with the holidays. You decide what works best for your family.
Keep it simple: The to-do list is ever growing and the more you add to your plate, the longer the list. So, keep it simple. If you are hosting, limit the menu, make easy meals, decorate in moderation, use gift bags instead of wrapping paper, do one-stop shopping… find a way to keep it simple.
Plan your budget: Make a list of who you need to shop for and designate a set budget. STICK TO IT. Remember it’s the thought that counts. Gifts from the heart always leave a lasting impression. A DIY craft is always a fun way to include your child(ren) in the festivities and foster the giving spirit.
Keep routines: When children have routines in place it helps them to self-regulate. Obviously, over the holidays there are times when you may need to be flexible but remember, some changes in routines like skipping nap time can create a cranky child. If you are planning to have a meal later than your typical time, be sure to have snacks handy. Stick to your routine as much as possible.
Your house - your rules: There are times over the holidays when people come to your home and it is okay to maintain the rules in your house. Your children are familiar and aware of your expectations, so the more continuity the better.
Know your limits: If you are hosting, it is okay to recognize that maybe 8 hours of extended family time is too much. I suggest doing a self-check in and make your plan. “We are celebrating from 4-7, please join us”. If you are going somewhere for the holidays, plan your out- if you need it, use it. Part of knowing your limits is being able to say no.
Find your Zen: If you are hosting, give your child permission to take a break if they need one. If you are going somewhere, find a place with your child, where they can go for some downtime. You can use that same place for yourself.
The holidays are filled with excitement but also heighten anxiety in children. Talk with them about what to expect. Prepare them by telling them who will be there, where you are going, what the day might look like. Kids benefit from knowing what to expect.
Ask for help: The holidays are not always a happy time. It’s a season where people are triggered with childhood memories, dealing with dysfunctional family dynamics, grieving over loved ones and/ or trying to cope with the stress from the holidays. Give yourself permission to acknowledge your feelings and be in the moment. This is the time to ask for help. Talk with a friend or family member or find a great service provider you can trust.
Practise Gratitude: There is always something to be grateful for, take a moment during the season and recognize what that is. Be open to giving love and receiving love.
This article was written by Emily Pollak, MSW, RSW. Emily is a Social Worker who operates her private practice here in the Niagara region. Her services include Maternal & Family Counselling. To find out more about Emily you may visit her website at www.emilypollak.ca