When it comes to holidays, we tend to believe that they are a joyful and relaxing time for children, while for parents, they are stressful and chaotic. However, for many children, disruptions to routine, more time in close quarters with siblings, and an absence of extra-curricular activities can create anxiety and discomfort. As a parent or guardian, you can help reduce holiday tension and encourage bonding between siblings leading to a more enjoyable and relaxing break with these five tips:
1. Many children have difficulties with the absence of a normal routine around the school holidays. As parents, it can be helpful to establish some degree of structure for mealtimes and more importantly, bedtime. When this is not possible, it can be useful to tell children the agenda of the day in advance or through using pictures.
2. Set expectations early about taking turns, sharing toys, and being kind between siblings. Praise good behaviour and reinforce sibling bonding when you see it.
3. Find common interests and plan activities that you and your children can do together such as baking, going to the park, or going swimming. To create a sense of purpose, try giving your children roles and responsibilities like 'Elf Helper' or letting them choose an activity to encourage involvement in all aspects of the task from set-up to completion.
4. Ensure you schedule downtime for reading or watching movies as too long of a day and too many activities can lead any of us (children and adults alike) to feel less than our best. Rest and relaxation help to reset the nervous system, assisting with emotional and behavioural regulation.
5. Take care of yourself! As parents, we tend to place our needs on the backburner as we try and meet our children’s expectations of an exciting, activity-filled holiday. With this in mind, it is important to try and find time for our physical and mental health needs by practicing self-care. This can be anything from cooking your favourite meal to organizing your own gatherings with friends, just as you would for your children.