Imagine for a moment that you wake up late and have to rush to get ready for the day.
You want to wear your nice shirt that you bought the other week, but you can’t find it, so you settle for the first thing you find in your closet that doesn’t fit quite right.
You want to enjoy your breakfast, but all you have time for is to scarf down a protein bar and drink some coffee before you have to rush out the door.
You have a long, stressful day at work and barely have time to eat lunch. You rush to bring dinner home for your family because you have to go to a meeting at your kid’s school.
At the end of the day, exhausted and emotional, you start to tell your partner about your day and this is their response, “You’re okay, don’t cry. Sounds like you should have woken up earlier and been better prepared.”
What? That’s not what you want to hear right now. 😣
When we are feeling stressed/disappointed/sad/upset, the last thing we want people to tell us is that everything is fine. In that moment, things do not feel fine, not at all. We want someone to validate our feelings and tell us it’s okay to feel that way, that it’s perfectly understandable due to the circumstances. In the above scenario, we probably should have woken up earlier and been better prepared, but we are human and things do not always go the way we want them to. We certainly don’t need someone telling us what we should have done because it isn’t helpful or comforting in the emotional moments.
Children operate the same way we do. They also need their feelings validated. They also need support and understanding in the hard times, even more than we do. According to recent research, a person’s prefrontal cortex, which affects self-control, emotions, and decision making, doesn’t fully develop until the age of 25!(1Maturation of the adolescent brain, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3621648/) Knowing this, we can give our kids (and ourselves) a break when emotions run high, because they are still developing and learning how to cope.
Kids have even less control of their environment than we do, so imagine how they must feel during the holidays, when your family’s schedule gets changed and they are going to new and unfamiliar places, eating new and unfamiliar food, and meeting new and unfamiliar people. Your little ones can quickly get overwhelmed, so it’s important to first acknowledge that when your child is acting out, they aren’t giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time.
As parents, we are their safe space, so we need to show them it’s okay to express how they are feeling. Yes, we want to make sure they aren’t hurting anyone or themselves in the process, but it is completely normal for them to feel physically and emotionally drained during and after the festivities.
Tips to Prep for the Holidays
With all this in mind, I know you want to enjoy the holidays with your family and friends. Flourishing Homes and Families has created a list of seven helpful strategies to prepare your kids (and yourself) for what’s to come!
- Let them know the plan and what the day will look like. “Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day! We’re going to wake up and eat a special breakfast, then we’re going to go to Gigi and Pop’s house. You’ll get to play and I bet Pop is going to want to swing you. After lunch, we’ll come home for quiet time, and then after supper, we’ll go look at Christmas lights!
- Empathize ahead of time. “You’re going to see some family members we don’t see very often. It’s okay if you don’t know what to say or if you don’t feel like talking to them right away.”
- Remember to use visual clues, not time-bound clues throughout the day. “We’re going to eat cheesecake and then we’re going to pick up toys, say goodbye, and go home.”
- Have a plan for common issues. “There might be food you’re not used to eating. It will be on your plate, and you can eat what you want. Your body will tell you what you need.”
- Invite them to help plan and collaborate. “We’re going to have a family Zoom call after lunch! Where do you think we should sit for our call? What toys or books do you want to share with Auntie?”
- Make all plans equal. Have multiple plans for a peaceful, successful day, keep your expectations age-appropriate, be flexible, and know that if your little one winds up not getting a nap, it will still work out.
- Keep perspective. Holidays are wonderful but stressful! Cultivate compassion, empathy, and understanding for your little one, yourself, and your family.(2(Preparing Kids for the Holidays, https://flourishinghomesandfamilies.com/blog?search=holidays)
I hope this blog provided some helpful things to keep in mind as we enter the holiday season!
Cheers to you and yours!
Are you looking for a fun parent group to celebrate holidays with? Click here to learn how you can be a part of CECPTA!
About the Author
Kelli Morales is a Texas native who lives in Carrollton with her husband Raul, toddler daughter Grace, and pet rabbit Buddy. She enjoys yoga, watching reruns of The Office and Friends, and exploring the outdoors with her daughter.