Well, we are galloping towards Christmas. For many families it does not resemble the John Lewis or Tesco advertisements of collaboration and joy. It can often create conflict meeting up with family members who you may not see all year. You might be starting to feel a sense of dread of whether the children will sleep or eat the food that’s been cooked by someone else, you may be divorced and have to manage with very little time, or you may not even see your children for Christmas and have to wait for another day in the holidays.
Here are my tips and a video especially for anxious children, to take the stress out of Christmas.
1.Offer Predictability and Routine
Agree on a plan each day, or prior to staying with relatives or friends. Your children will know what’s going to happen and what’s expected of them. Ensure there are activities.They may get bored especially if you are in someone else’s home. Many parents and children can be anxious away from home. You may be seeing family that the children have not seen for some time, so you could:
- Show your children where they are going, you know that children are still developing executive functioning skills such as planning, organization and sequencing.
- Show them who they will have to say hello to, ( have photos, or a video just to remind them)Any new rules, at Joe’s house, they do this, they eat at this time.
- Let your host know what your children eat and don’t eat.
- Try to keep bedtimes normal, do not try and do sleep programme, it often fails during holidays.
- Children are going to be really excited and some children struggle with routines, so be clear what you are going to tolerate, set up a big feelings tent if they need to have some time to calm down. Talk about this before you go, so it feels normal and prevents anyone feeling any shame.
2. Maximise your personal space
Space is often limited due to guests, so ensure that you have a time to go out for a walk, go to the park, let everyone let off a bit of steam. Being outside always helps me to feel calmer. If you have small children, and family baby sitters, you may even go out for a walk without them.Let your hosts know prior to the day, or if you are hosting, inform your guests that this is your family tradition.
3. Try to be compassionate and mindful, Channel your inner Buddha!
We all have family members where there are old hurts and we can quickly fall into old family patterns. We don’t want Christmas to be the time that we wait “in ambush” to explode to tell them all the things we ever hated about them. Take some deep breaths, give yourself 10 minutes to calm down each day.
4. Don’t get into the blaming game with ex partners
Avoid conflict by asking neutral friends or family members to manage contact.Acknowledge it is hard for them, not having mummy and daddy together. Ask them what might help them. Your children are going to feel very conflicted so use empathy to help them.
5. Keep to a budget
There are so many presents you can give that cost time not money( I will be writing another blog on this) appreciate that some family members may have a different budget to you.
I hope these help and wishing you all a very happy Christmas and New Year, join me in the new year at one of my Workshops, make your relationship with your child a priority in the new year.
With Love Catherine