Ah, the holidays. Spending time with family and friends, staying out and sleeping in late, indulging in treats and sweets. It is the most wonderful time of the year, after all. Until suddenly, you’re staring at the calendar in disbelief the night before the kids go back to school. Here are solutions to five of the biggest holiday break troubles – getting kids back into a routine isn’t as difficult as you think!
Problem #1: Sleepyheads
It’s nearly impossible to keep the regular weekday routine for the holidays. However, try to at least keep a steady bedtime and wake-up time, even if it is a little later than usual. As the holiday hoopla comes to an end, start waking the children up earlier until you get close to their regular wake-up time. They’ll fuss less about bedtime being a little earlier when they are tired. In short, you won’t have to worry about getting kids back into a routine if you never let them get out of one!
For younger children, consider celebrating the New Year with a countdown to Noon instead of Midnight. They won’t be as cranky and overtired, and bedtime can still happen as normal. Bonus for this idea – you can hire a sitter and get to celebrate your own party sans kids!
Problem #2: Sweet Tooth Terrors
Cookies! Cakes! Candies! From Halloween until New Years, the holidays are about food. Unfortunately, poor nutrition choices can make for irritable children. Keeping a regular meal schedule as much as possible can help regulate some of the munching. Even if you can’t do dinner together due to obligations, try having a family breakfast each morning. It doesn’t have to be fancy – just a set time where everyone sits and eats cereal and fruit together. Maximize this time by working together to help plan out the day!
Institute a simple 2 to 1 rule for gatherings: Encourage your kids to eat two healthy foods for every treat they want to indulge in. They want soda or hot cocoa? Introduce them to sparkling waters and hot tea.
Problem #3: Electronics Overload
When there is a chill in the air, it is tempting to snuggle under blankets and binge-watch holiday movies, or let the children play for hours on their new video game systems and phones. Unfortunately, extended screen time can make children lethargic and cranky. If it’s nice out, start up a family soccer game, go on a bike ride or hike, or even just walk around the block. Weather not cooperating? Try a board game or cards night with your kids instead. Shutting down and disconnecting from the electronics an hour before bedtime is also essential for better sleep.
Problem #4: School Dread
The holidays are exciting – there’s no doubt about that. It can be hard to settle back into normal routines after having every night filled with special activities, parties, and visiting loved ones. Try to make going back to school feel exciting as well. Consider saving a special outfit to wear on the first day back to school. For the preschool age child, obtain permission from the teacher to bring in a special toy to show friends.
Putting a positive spin on the new school year is important as well. Encourage your child to set resolutions about school. Maybe they want to raise their math grade by five points, make a new friend, or make the debate team. Be sure to keep your conversations positive. Asking them who they look forward to seeing when they get back to school, discussing the current book on their reading list, and bringing up tryouts for the upcoming musical or sports team all keep school in a positive light. Setting aside time each day for reading or homework helps avoid a last minute “homework crunch” on the last day of the holiday!
Problem #5: Letting the Holidays Go
It can be extremely difficult for children to let go of the fun hustle and bustle of the holidays. Starting a new tradition at the beginning of the new year can help alleviate some of the feelings of “so what now?” Maybe it’s a weekly family board game night using their new games, or maybe a crafting spree, training for a fun run, or maybe even monthly karaoke nights. Marking these on a brand-new calendar can make the ideas more concrete for younger children and serve as a great reminder of things to look forward to in the new year.
While holiday craziness is inevitable, a little bit of planning can make getting kids back into a routine easy to do.
Kids actually crave routine – they just don’t know it! As parents, we crave routine too. The sooner the kids are back in theirs, the sooner we’ll be able to get back into a routine too!