The holidays are upon us in full force. This should be a time of fun and laughter but often deteriorates to children’s tantrums and parental stress. Here are some time tested tips to keep the holidays calmer:
• PREPARE IN ADVANCE. Bake, buy and pack any gifts well in advance of the holiday you celebrate. Last minute preparations make even the most even tempered parent frantic. Making cards and gifts for the people you all love is a great way to spend fun time together.
• LESS IS MORE. Ruthlessly strip out all the toys your child no longer uses before you add any more.
• BUY LESS. Children love scotch tape, glue, colored pencil, tracing paper, carbon paper, new crayons and stickers. They can spend hours entertaining themselves making costumes, collages, sculptures, and drawings and will often even invite adults to join in the fun. Games like Tic Tac Toe, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Dominoes, Twister and Parcheesi are still great fun for everyone to play. Checkers, Chinese Checkers, and Chess are wonderful strategy games to teach the 5+ crowd. Planning ahead is a good skill to learn early.
• BOOKS. Books are still the best gifts. They are your unspoken promise that you will spend some time reading with your child. Books help to highlight the importance of the written word and can unlock a new world, open up a field of learning or encourage a fantasy world of imagination.
• KEEP THE SLEEP. Maintain sleeping routines as much as possible. Changes in routine cause upset which causes sleeplessness which leads to irritable, unreasonable children (and parents, too!)
• STRANGER ANXIETY. Do not expect your child to kiss and hug everyone s/he meets. Stranger anxiety rears its head when a child is overwhelmed with too many unfamiliar faces.
• KEEP IT SMALL. Fewer gifts, less people, a few select activities will “help to keep the season bright.” Running from store to store, house to house, dragging your child with you often exhausts everyone. Even a visit to Santa can be scary and overwhelming to a 2, 3 or 4 year old. (Who is that fat man in a red suit anyway?)
• KEEP EXPECTATIONS TINY. Children are deluged by TV commercials, billboards, and catalogs urging them to ask for more and more toys. Most of our children own so much already that it is hard to store and organize it all – let alone enjoy it. Select a game or toy that you can enjoy doing with your child. Your time and interaction are more precious to your young child than any electronic device. Ice some cookies, decorate the house, play a game of Candyland, read a book, enjoy a game of Twister or teach your child to play a round of “Go Fish.” These are the memories that will remain with him/her as he grows.
• BE KIND TO YOURSELF – get enough sleep and eat well so that you can enjoy the season too. If you can’t get everything done by your holiday remember there is always time the next day to “make up” for anything missed.
Enjoy yourselves fully over the winter break and we will see you back in 2019!
Happy New Year!
From the Staff at Bronxville Montessori