The holidays are around the corner! It’s such a busy, exciting time, but it’s also difficult to navigate all the holiday festivities with little ones that need constant routine and structure. Here are my best tips to maintain you Positive Parenting approach during the holidays.
Set Age-Appropriate Expectations
Consider and set age-appropriate expectations for holiday celebrations. It’s important to set limits (and stick to them). Determine your spending limit for presents, limit the number of holiday activities, and consider limits any time you’re deviating from your normal routine. For example, if you’re going to allow your little one to stay up later on New Year’s Eve, set a strict limit (and maybe have a faux count down to midnight).
If your children are very little, consider a quantity limit on presents instead of a spending limit. They will better understand the limit if they are getting 4 presents, rather than $100 of presents. In our family, we do 4 gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.
Include Kids in Holiday Decisions
Discuss holiday plans as a family! Let your children have some input on the activities. Involving kids fills their bucket. It gives them a strong sense of belonging and significance, which is in alignment with Positive Parenting principles. Easy ways to include them are to let them choose holiday movies or holiday menu items.
Don’t Over Schedule
It’s tempting to pack your holiday schedule so you can see all your family and friends. This can often cause issues for littles that are used to specific routines. You might encounter brutal meltdowns and tantrums, which can be frustrating and embarrassing. Avoid this temptation! Instead, opt for a flexible schedule and include important elements of your normal routine.
Maintain Familiar Routines
Kids thrive on routine. Even though you might need to deviate from your normal schedule, be sure to include some important parts of you kids routine. Meal times, snack times, naps and bedtimes are key components that you should try to maintain even during the holidays.
Celebrate with Family Traditions
Just like routines, Family Traditions become familiar to kids. When kids know what’s up next, they are much less likely to experience meltdowns. Family traditions can be things like picking out a Christmas Tree at a local farm after Thanksgiving Dinner, or making holiday cookies the first weekend in November. It could also be having a familiar, special meal during a holiday celebration.
Family Traditions will create lasting memories for your family!
Share the Extra Work
Holidays general mean extra work. From meal prep to gift wrapping, there’s plenty to keep the whole family busy. Assign responsibilities to each family member. It will take the pressure off you, and give your children another opportunity to feel a sense of belonging and significance.
Focus on Acts of Service
Instead of discussing gifts and making wishlist, try focusing on acts of service. Kids can make a list of things they’d like to do to contribute to their family or community. Look for ways to fill other people’s bucket during the holiday season!
Never Force Affection
If kids feel uncomfortable giving hugs and kisses, respect their boundaries. It may be difficult for Aunt Karen to accept that your little one does not want a kiss, but forcing your child to accept unwanted hugs and kisses can have long term negative impacts.
So plan your response ahead of time, and include your kids in the conversation. It could be something as simple as telling little Emma that Auntie may want kisses, but if she’s not comfortable with it, ask if a high five or fist bump will do. In the moment, you can easily defuse an awkward situation with “Emma’s very conservative with affection, how about a quick elbow bump?”
Focus on Family, Feelings, and Festivities
The holidays are a wonderful, magical time. It’s really easy to get caught up in gifts and special activities. Don’t let gift hunting or Elf on a Shelf scenes consume you. Remind yourself that your focus should be on Family, Feelings of Joy and Gratitude, and Festivities that create lasting memories with your loved ones.
Limit Gifts (and encourage experience gifts over material gifts)
Gifts are a lovely part of the holidays. Gift giving fills the buckets of everyone involved. Take care not to over-do it, however! Limit the number of gifts, and encourage experiences over material items. Friends and family of all ages will appreciate the memories made with ‘experience’ type gifts.
Great experience gifts include: movie tickets, cooking classes, ice skating lessons, farm tours, hotel stay, and water park passes.
Plan for Meltdowns
You’re probably noticing a theme with the Positive Parenting Tips for the holidays. Planning is key. Any time you deviate from your normal routine you increase the risk of a total meltdown. Have a plan to deal with meltdowns, especially when you’re away from home. Bring along a couple of calming items, like small sensory toys or coloring kits. Ask your host ahead of time if there’s a quiet space you can sneak off to if your little one needs a break. Also bring favorite snacks (or even treats) in case hanger is part of the equation.
Always Follow Through, Even on Holidays
It’s tempting to let things slide during the holidays. It’s a special occasion, after all. But if you set rules, limits, and expectations, you need to follow through. By caving, you’re sending the message that rules can be broken sometimes, and you’ll find your little ones challenging their boundaries even after the holidays are over!
The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. Choosing to practice gratitude as a family will bring you closer together and help you appreciate each other. Here are few ways to practice gratitude around the holidays.
- Write Thank-You Messages in Holiday Cards
- Start a Gratitude Jar
- Perform Random Acts of Kindness Together
- Do a Family Gratitude Collage
Do you have any Positive Parenting Tips for the Holidays? Share what works for your family!