Schools have let out for winter break, and all the excitement surrounding the holidays may have led to a hectic household. After a few days, disrupted routines, sugar-filled diets, and cabin fever may have parents singing that familiar Christmas carol line: “And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again …”
Marriage and Family Therapist Kelly Olson of The Village Family Service Center in Moorhead created this list of tips to help families keep their winter vacations merry and bright. It boils down to good communication, regular routines and taking it easy on each other – and yourself.
- Have a countdown. Put activities on a calendar to reduce questions about what we are doing and when. Use stickers or pictures to mark different activities to help with little kids, and cross off days on calendar, reminding them what comes next.
- Plan out activities to ensure kids are well rested. Getting it all done it one day is not necessarily helpful.
- Make a list of activities that kids can engage in when you are not with them, for example, if they’re at home while you’re at work.
- Get kids involved. Before a trip, give them a list of what needs to be packed, and then review after it is completed. Put packages in designated area for them to carry to the car. Let them help plan the activities. Take into consideration every point of view, and take turns with ideas from kids.
- Check on availability of needed supplies, and what you need to bring, if going to different home during the holidays. For example, does Grandma have a pack and play, bottles, and activities for the kids?
- Try to keep your child’s schedule fairly consistent. It’s OK to have a little fun, but the more you diverge from your regular routine means the more adjustment when you have to return to your original schedule.
- Remain consistent as you can with discipline. But also, factor the changes, such as different environment, being around family, and unusual schedule, into your discipline.
- Manage your own stress. Are you taking breaks, getting enough sleep, and breaking up your activities so that you are not run down?
- Do a mix of physical and “lazy day” activities, as needed. More physical activity may be beneficial after driving and riding in a car for long distances.
- Watch your diet. Monitor the amount of sweets or sugar intake through food, beverages, and desserts. This can impact children’s mood and behaviors (i.e., not listening, high energy, distractible, irritable, etc.).
- Balance your socializing. It’s wonderful to spend time with friends, extended family, and relatives we don’t see regularly, but be sure to set aside time for traditions that are special to your immediate family.
- Consider a break between holiday vacation and school starting. Kids will need some downtime to rest before going back to school.
If your family relationships are challenging, The Village Family Service Center can provide tools to improve your parenting. Call (701) 451-4900 or contact us online.