This time of year tends to increase the stress in our lives, and when you find yourself on edge and worried how everything will go, take a deep breath. We talked to Barbara Heuser, LCSW, EIS at The Warren Center about just how to navigate the upcoming holidays as a parent. She had these tips for us to keep in mind.
1. Preparation is key
Preparation and planning is essential for anything that could change up your normal routines. Your child hasn’t seen extended family in a long time and may not remember them? Sit down and share photos of who they’ll be visiting! Go through photos from the previous year’s holiday. Traveling long distances? Pack snacks, entertainment and plan for any stops or breaks. Is there a chance of overstimulation? Bring along items that help calm a situation of sensory overload, such as a favorite blanket, stuffed animal or fidget toy.
2. Communicate clearly with other family members
Just like in the first tip, preparing other family members for potential situations that may arise can help ensure things will go smoothly. Asking if there is another room that you can move to if your child needs to step away or have family members give a tour to familiarize your child with the home can bring calm to the flow of the get-together. Are there items in their home that they need to put away? Are they aware if your child does not like to be touched or hugged? Are they aware of how to handle or react to potential problems? The clearer the communication, the less pressure you put on yourself and the more you can relax!
3. Manage expectations
The holidays don’t have to be perfect, and that’s perfectly okay! It’s not the meals or gifts or the chaos that we tend to remember about the holidays. The memories come from the moments that we share with our loved ones. This time of year offers more time for us to spend connecting with family, and it doesn’t have to cost a single dime. Create ornaments out of pine cones. Go see pretty lights. Make some hot chocolate and share stories! Turn your expectations to focus on making those moments and memories ones that will last a lifetime.
4. Be flexible
Itineraries, agendas and plans don’t have to be etched in stone . It is okay if you need to change plans last minute. By making sure you’re making the moments for your child and spending time connecting, none of those plans will matter and will long be forgotten.
Take those extra few days off as exactly that; extra days off. More time with your family. More time with loved ones. More time connecting, sharing love and creating moments and memories.
THAT is the holiday season that your child will remember and the calm that the family deserves.