Nine Tips for a Stress-free Family Christmas With the Kids
In the run-up to Christmas, we may not know it, but we’re already preparing ourselves for some stress. We’re getting together our ideas of what we want to do on the day, who we’re inviting, where we’re going, and what gifts we are buying. In all this, we’re developing expectations. Expectations of how the day will pan out, and in doing so, it’s often likely that some of those expectations won’t be met. And in all this, we want our children to have a great Christmas too. So how do we have a great Christmas without all the stresses that put a strain on our relationships, not only with our kids, but with our guests too?
. Even though you are busy preparing lunch and serving your guests’ needs, be aware that your kids still need your attention and see you as their number one role model – do not neglect them. Remain patient with them, and answer their requests.
. At strategic times, get a relative to look after them – this is often appreciated by both parties. Relatives like to think they are wanted and are being useful.
. Make Rule Number One – No kids in the kitchen before lunch! This means you can get on with preparations without stressful interruptions. It will also mean you are not rejecting them by shooing them away whenever they come in and get under your feet. They are more likely to respond positively to the rule rather than being told to go away.
. Patience and understanding. Not really something that springs to mind when we think about all our relatives coming over. There are always the usual infuriating comments made by at least one relation, maybe about our children’s behaviour or what they’re eating. When you react to something, look at what’s behind your reaction, the meaning you are giving it. For example, if a comment were directed at you and your child like “kids these days are just not grateful for all these expensive toys”, how would you be feeling? Would you be cross, or guilty? And why? It comes down to the meaning you have given it – you could make it mean ‘I’m not a good mother’, or ‘I’ve brought my child up to be selfish’. If this is so, then you can choose to give it a totally new meaning, maybe, ‘that’s just the way he is’, ‘it doesn’t mean anything’, or you can understand that, especially with elderly people, they are still living in their youth and do not understand modern values.
. If you don’t traditionally open your presents until after lunch, give the kids a gift to open in the morning to keep them occupied.
. Have a great all-round family game for kids and guests to get on with while you are making the preparations for lunch.
. If you’ve got creative kids who want to help, give them a task in the kitchen that they can get on with, like preparing vegetables. Remember, let go of any ideas of perfection – most guests understand that some things kids do for us won’t be perfect – the fact that they prepared it will be appreciated.
. After Christmas day, when all the guests have gone home, it does seem to be a bit bleak, with the excitement over and more days in the school break to get through. Be organised with ideas of activities so that no-one is bored.
. After all the over-eating, a feeling of lethargy can kick in. Kids can be hyperactive, and behaviour wilder than normal, causing family upsets. Get them outside, doing active pursuits – walking, riding bikes, scooters and skateboards, running on the beach.
Christmas doesn’t have to be a time of sitting around and eating. Doing so doesn’t bode well with the child’s active needs – they do need to be busy and occupied and using up their energy, so sitting around can mean they have excess energy they use up in less than acceptable ways, like irritating those around them, and being boisterous in closed spaces. So even on Christmas day, it can be good for all family and guests to get out and about for a walk at the park or beach, fly a kite, play ball.
So with a little preparation and a few rules, Christmas day this year can be enjoyable and a little more relaxed than normal. Or of course, you can do what some do, and just get away from it all together, to sunnier or colder climes, and have a totally different Christmas all together!