Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Excitement Can Equal Cranky Kids

I am the world’s worst at revving up my children during the holiday season. Yes, it is not even December 1, and we are already decorated for Christmas. The house is lit up like “Christmas Vacation,” holiday music is playing 24/7, and the stockings are already hung by the chimney with care…you get the picture. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house, and we still have 25 days to go until the big day.

So what does this mean for my four year-old? Well, it means she is already in holiday orbit and every bit as excited as her mama!

This also means it is getting harder to settle her down for bedtime and keep her (somewhat) calm throughout the day. How do you manage your kids and their schedules during the the holidays, but still keep that spirit of the season?

Here are some tips on how to balance being full of holiday cheer, while keeping bedtime battles and holiday sugar highs at bay:

• Schedule holiday parties and plans when the kids are well rested. Try not to interrupt naptimes and bedtimes.

• If the holidays mean you must travel and be away from your home, then try to keep mealtimes and bedtimes as close to your schedule as possible. You may not be able to control where your little one sleeps, but you can control what time they go down for bed at night.

• Don’t go overboard. Children like simplicity, so instead of doing three holiday crafts, baking Christmas cookies and visiting Santa all in one weekend, just choose one holiday activity to do as a family. It will mean more to your child (and to you) if you have one special event or activity to focus on at a time. Too many new and exciting experiences can make children overwhelmed, thus leading to a meltdown.

• While holiday treats certainly are a fun part of the season, limit cookies and candies. Too much sugar contributes to children having a tough time settling down at night. When several holiday treats are offered to your kids in a single day, have them select one and tell them to either save the rest for another day or give the treat to a friend or family member. This is an excellent way to eliminate too many treats, as well as reinforce the importance of giving to others, instead of always receiving.

• Keep your stress level in check. Remember that children are very much affected by their parent’s stress levels. If holiday activities become too much for you and you can feel your stress level rising, then it’s time to take a step back and look at your schedule and to-do list. Determine what you can eliminate from it to make the holiday season more enjoyable for everyone.

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