Remove needless stress from the upcoming holiday season
Fundraising season is over and two semesters are nearly in the books for most students come holiday break. It seems like you’ve just gotten into the groove of this whole school thing, when all of a sudden, the kids are back home again for a couple of weeks to reset and refresh.
Many parents worry that downtime like holiday break is an easy time for students to fall back into bad habits as sleep schedules shift and holiday chaos ensues. Be proactive this year by following these do’s and don’ts as you plan for the long vacation.
Do Allow Decompression
The Natural Nurturer—a parenting blog written by a career educator—outlines why rest and sleep are essential for a healthy developing child. The physical, mental and emotional benefits of sleep cannot be understated, and giving your children some flexibility in their sleep schedule can help restore their body and mind. Sleep aids in memory formation, better mood, and immune system restoration—all things that suffer during the stressful school weeks.
Consider also that an extra hour or two by your self in the morning can offer some much need “you-time” at a particularly hectic time of year. As you get closer to the end of break, you can start setting an alarm and have the kiddos out of bed to get them re-accustomed to the school week system.
Don’t Stay Inside All Day
The movement for more “play” is not just a fad. Like more sleep, more play helps the brain develop in other ways, particularly socially. Recent studies have shown that play is integral in cultivating “independent learning skills,” and countries around the world have adopted school day schedules that take this advice seriously.
Given the short recess kids are offered these days, it’s highly unlikely their getting enough time to use the imaginative centers in their brain. Use the holiday break to mandate some play time. If you’re able, allow your children to have friends over to play outside games that are suitable for your winter climate. Movement, socializing, and creativity are challenged when you take screens away and make the outdoors a living game.
Do Hide the Junk Food
The stress of the semester tends to encourage more meal planning. Lax times, especially around the holidays, are rife with temptation for letting any healthy eating habit fall by the wayside. Be intentional about your trips to the grocery store. While sparing holiday treats are perfectly fine, keeping the pantry stocked with healthier options like fruit or veggie chips and granola bars will not force you to test the “Betcha can’t eat just one” theory.
Better yet, pick a couple of nights to cook dinner with your children and teach them a thing or two about cooking a nourishing meal for themselves. Allow them to do safe tasks like mixing and measuring, while explaining each step as you go. They’ll be surprised to learn that they’ve missed learning something, and you’ll have gained some helpful hands.
Don’t Forget Quality Time
Holiday break means your child is halfway to being another year older. As the year comes to a close, you’ll likely be thinking, “My, how time flies!”
Take advantage of having your child around a little bit more and learning how they’ve grown over the course of their first semester. Ask them about what they’ve learned, what things are interesting them, and how next semester can be better. When you initiate these conversations, you’re creating a safe space for your child to open up and express concerns and difficulties that might otherwise be hard to bring up on their own. Consider questions like:
- What classes are you finding most interesting?
- Are you feeling like you have enough time to do things you enjoy?
- Tell me about some friends you’ve made.
As kids get older, they naturally tend to be less communicative about what’s going on in their lives; that doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t still value your interest. Use your parental intuition to navigate the space between learning about their lives and prying into their business. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn and how much they do want to share.
And, if you liked these ideas, check out our affordable suggestions for summer entertainment that might shed some light on great ideas for winter vacation fun.