Making the most of the festive season with our children
The holiday season can be a truly rewarding time for parents and caregivers. The cherished experiences that children bring are a delight, and makes this time of year all the more memorable for families.
We all look forward to holidays and down time, and we aim to enjoy these times with our children at their different stages in life. However, for our children, unstructured schedules, departure from routine, different foods and the demands of travel can be unsettling and stressful.
To make the the most of summertime festivities, we have developed some ideas to help make it seem a little less hustle and bustle, so everyone can relax and enjoy the holiday season.
Wishing you and your families the very best for the holiday season.
Belinda Ludlow CEO
8 TIPS TO MAKE FOR A MEMORABLE HOLIDAY SEASON
Minimise pressure and maximise enjoyment for the whole family, with these tips to manage the holiday experience.
Be prepared for the daily routine to change. Sticking to the schedule when it comes to mealtimes and bedtimes is an effective way to manage consistency and continuity in key routines. However, with change comes a need to be flexible. A change in environments, time differences, accommodation, food etc will always give way to changes in behaviour. Read their cues – children are very good at giving them to you.
Encourage little helpers. Decorating, cooking, hosting guests, shopping for gifts…the list of to-dos is lengthy. Your impulses might tell you to take over, but there are many lessons to be learned by children when we include them in the preparations. Children can help set the table, decorate the house, and wrap presents. If they’re too young to wrap, they can help by getting the tape ready. Ripping up paper is a fabulous sensory experience for young children!
Plan ahead with the host. Gatherings with food, lovingly prepared by you or friends and family, can lead to some anxious moments for children with particular dietary needs and/or picky eaters. Prior to your travels, people usually have a conversation about their food contributions, so make sure you have a conversation about the children’s food/drink too. If you are travelling long distances, pack snacks and water before heading out to visits. If you are hosting, ensure you have a child friendly approach. Ensure cups and water bottles are labelled or decorated so that children can recognise them as their own for the duration of the stay.
Plan conversations with your children about the travel. Keeping your children in the loop about impending travel or change, gives a sense of empowerment. Involve them in the preparation of the upcoming trip by talking about what is going to happen. Children like logistical conversations, for example, “We will be getting out of bed before the sun us up!” On any trip, you’ll want to have plenty of activities and supplies to engage your children—games, books, snacks, a tablet. Ensure you give them some fair and reasonable choices regarding what they bring along.
Expectations of behaviour. Some traditions in the holiday season may demand your children’s “best” behaviour. What does that exactly mean? Long church services, visits with lots of strangers, elaborate meals, and formal occasions, at times, can challenge children. To support children, review your schedule to ensure that you are balancing out what your children will thrive in. For example, incorporate physical activity in your days, and, when necessary, give them time to nap between events.
Parenting rules to stay the same. The festive season is full of treats and special exceptions, but for peace-of-mind, your parenting philosophy should not change regardless of time and place. There are non-negotiables, for example, if your child only drinks water and milk – stick to that – you are responsible for your child’s diet.
Prepare for sleeptime. If your family is travelling at this time of year, sleep patterns can be interrupted. Even if you stay at home, settling young babies amid all the excitement can prove challenging—it’s only normal they feel overstimulated from the day’s events. Bring the familiarity to the ritual of sleeptime with you. For example:
If you breastfeed in a quite space at home prior to sleep, find one in the new space you are in.
Ensure that the primary carer does nappy change before bed, not the Great Aunt that your child has just met.
For older children, bring books along that are favourites to read before bed.
Slow down and reflect. Some of the memorable moments are the unplanned, and contrary to what we may tell ourselves, the way to really make the most of the season (and cope with the rush) is to slow down and just “be”. It’s important to remember to take it all in, and have some reflective time. Book into your calendar days with no commitments so as a family you can unwind and “reboot”.