9 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays with Your Children

The season of celebrations has begun, but that’s not all! We’ve also entered the season when stress and anxiety overwhelms many – when the to-do list feels overpowering and commercialization obscures what we’re really celebrating in the first place.

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Many of us can remember when the holidays were a sprint. But these days, it feels like a marathon — especially for parents of young children. There are Christmas decorations and Halloween merchandise in many stores at the same time, and Christmas carols are often the soundtrack for Thanksgiving sales.

Every family wants the holidays to be memorable and joyful for their children. But to make this happen, parents have to remember that the whirlwind of activities can become overwhelming, so children need time to rest, relax, and enjoy this special season.

The holidays are not a time to abandon family routines, ignore good nutrition, and put learning on hold. The best gift we can give our children is to help strengthen their social and emotional development by maintaining our balance, keeping calm, and teaching them to focus on the positive and special meaning of the holidays.

While their children are making their lists and checking them twice, parents should do the same. So, what exactly should we have on our list? Here are our suggestions:

  1. Get your children involved in the holiday planning – find out what they want to do and where they want to go, and try to include their wishes in the family schedule. Ask what they enjoyed about previous holidays, then enlist their help to make it a reality.
  2. Start a family tradition — whether it is decorating your house, singing songs of the season, or baking cookies and making candy.
  3. Participate in a random act of kindness with your children: serving food in a soup kitchen, preparing Meals on Wheels, singing at a senior center, baking cookies for teachers and neighbors, or selecting and delivering Angel Tree gifts.
  4. Read a story about a different faith or culture: this simple act can broaden children’s understanding and contribute to their empathy and respect for other people.
  5. Keep a normal routine for the holidays so your child eats healthy food and goes to bed on time – disruptions in the regular schedule can lead to fatigue and anxiety.
  6. Remind children of the behaviors expected of them but remember that the best medicine for good behavior is a predictable routine that increases their sense of security and keeps them from getting hungry or tired.
  7. Ask your children for their help: letting them participate in shopping for just the right gifts for friends and relatives can boost their esteem and self-confidence.
  8. Limit television watching and emphasize exercise to cope with holiday stress and don’t let temperatures keep you from taking a walk or visiting a playground so your children can remain active.
  9. Remember what the holidays are all about and translate that to your children through the experience of helping others and by talking with them about the true meaning of the holidays.

The holiday season doesn’t have to be a time of stress, hectic activities, and an overcrowded calendar. Be intentional about making it a time for forging memories that your children will carry with them for the rest of their lives … and tell their own children about.

It is proven that the strongest foundation for our children’s social and emotional development is a safe and loving family environment that builds a sense of trust and helps a child thrive. That is our holiday wish for every child in our community.