Poof! The holidays are upon us. Many parents dread long holiday breaks. They anticipate the whining, the boredom and the increased mess/chaos with the kids off while they continue their regular work routine. Good news? This year Christmas bumps up to a weekend so just about everyone gets a long weekend. No matter what you celebrate there are ways to combat the negative aspects of a long break. Try these three “Holiday Hacks” and see if they don’t make winter vacation a bit more manageable.
3 Smart Hacks To Prepare NOW For The Holiday Break:
- SET GUIDELINES. It sounds simple. It is But, it’s something many parents never try. You know the kids are going to be home for a long stretch. BEFORE break starts, call a family meeting and lay down some rules and logical consequences for rule violations. Give the kids a chance to challenge the rules/consequences at the meeting. They’re kids, their challenges are going to be lame but, every now and then a child will surprise you with a sane suggestion. It’s an exercise worth executing.
- Bedtime. Set a holiday bedtime. For some families, letting kids stay up 30-60 minutes later than they do on school days works. If your child struggles with a sleep routine, even if it encroaches on your holiday plans, stick to the norm. Once you set a holiday bedtime, stick with it. Better sleep=fewer melt downs.
- Thank You’s. Instill etiquette while reinforcing language skills by picking a day where everyone sits around the kitchen table and writes thank you notes to ALL of the people who deserve one. Certainly thank-you’s for gifts are in order. But, this is also a good time of year to have your kids express their thanks to important people in their lives – scout leaders, coaches, religious education instructors, nice neighbors, etc. Get some fun note cards and give your kids some freedom. Let them draw pictures where it works. Be generous with spelling help. Set an example by writing your own thank-you’s at the same time.
- Make it clear to your kids before vacation begins what you are and are not willing to do. Are you good with play-dates or neighbor kids everyday? How many movies/trampoline places/parks/name-your-activity type excursions are you willing/able to make? Much whining can be avoided if you decide ahead of time what will and will not be happening.
- State your expectations. Talk about your family rules. Do you expect made beds? Where in your home is eating allowed? Go through it all before the Macy’s parade is over and then stick to it. The holidays should not be time for parents to spend extra time cleaning up after the kids – you know, the short people with no jobs and nothing to do all day?
- Kids are not as hard to entertain as the media would lead you to believe. Get a calendar out and look at the days your kids will be home. Make a few days extra special and leave more days open for your children to spend time entertaining themselves. School breaks should not break your budget. Spend a morning making play-doh or creating your own wrapping paper. Plan a couple of fun meals during the break – fondue, weird waffles or grilling in the snow. THESE are the things your children will remember beyond whatever their gifts might be this year. Make the effort and you will never regret that you did.
- Keep it simple, seriously. A great rule for holiday gifts for kids is: Something they want. Something they need. Something to wear. Something to read. (Fun, huh? You know, because it rhymes!) It’s harder to stick to this rule than you might think. However, this rule makes most kids happy. Try to apply to others on your gift list as well. No one needs more clutter. No one wants a child standing in a room full of 20 Lego sets and countless other toys whining that they are bored. Limiting your options of gifts gives you a chance to really focus on your child – what book would be perfect? If you have a child with special needs, look into some special education resources online. Many have incredibly thoughtful gift “stores” on their sites. You might find a new favorite shirt or game.
Keep things simple. Be straightforward with your expectations – for yourself and for your kids. The holidays should be a time to relax and enjoy each other. These three hacks will help you get to that point with little pain.