The holiday season is when childhood memories are made: Parties! Presents!
But the season also brings a break in a child’s routine, which means
it creates some pretty profound memories for parents, too: Tantrums! Stomach
aches! Crushing fatigue!
Making the season magical while still manageable is a balancing act; but
I tell my patients that with careful planning, it’s possible for kids
and parents to come away with pleasant holiday memories.
Nestled all Snug in Their Beds
Traveling to different time zones or attending evening parties, makes it
difficult to get your kids down at the same time every night. But children,
particularly young children, need a solid sleep routine for their health
Try to get your children to bed within one to two hours of their normal
bed times. If that means letting your child fall asleep in your lap or
in a spare bedroom of a host’s house before transferring him into
the car to go home a little later, that’s fine (if it’s fine
with the host). But if your child is not the type to fall asleep anywhere,
you might want to time your visits and your activities with bed time in mind.
Bowlful of Jelly
Let’s be honest: When grandparents are around, your kids’ sugar
intake is simply going to increase. My advice to parents during this time
of year is to make sure your children get a healthy breakfast. That will
at least give them a good foundation for the rest of the day.
Sometimes, with all the running around we do, regular meals are missed.
Keep healthy snacks, such as whole fruit, with you to fend off low blood
sugar – and the meltdowns that come with it.
You can also use the preponderance of sweets as a teachable moment. When
facing a buffet table piled with tempting foods, offer them choices between
healthy options and talk to them about what they think the most nourishing
choices would be.
Prancing and Pawing of Each Little Hoof
The kids are home from school – and they’re bored. While it
might be tempting to stick them in front of a screen so that you can get
stuff done around the house, keep in mind that little bodies need exercise
and little brains need stimulating activities.
Try to plan activities during the morning, when they’re more likely
to be awake and receptive. Plan a play date at the park. Play soccer or
do yoga with them. Break out a puzzle or a board game. Set out paper and
paints and let them get creative.
And don’t let chores slide. If a child fills up the dog bowl every
day during the rest of the year, there is no reason she can’t still
see her responsibility through during the holidays. The iPad is bound
to make more appearances during these few weeks, but limit screen exposure
to two hours a day for children over age two.
The demand on our time during the holidays means that our parenting skills
sometimes take a back seat. But by making sure that our kids maintain
a reasonable semblance of their routine, we can help them stay healthier
and happier – ensuring our holiday memories will be more joyful
for the whole family.
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