Q: The holiday season is upon us, and as a parent, I'm already feeling overwhelmed by the hectic schedule. Between family gatherings, school events and holiday parties, it's challenging to maintain a routine for my children. How can I create a sense of stability and normalcy during this busy time?
A: You're certainly not alone in feeling the holiday hustle. It's a common challenge for parents to maintain routines during this festive but often chaotic season. However, creating a sense of stability for your children is crucial for their well-being. You can navigate the holiday schedule while keeping your family's routine intact.
Ensure your children are getting enough sleep. With late-night parties and festivities, it's easy for bedtime to get pushed later than usual. Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible, and consider adjusting naptimes if necessary.
Amidst the holiday feasts, try to maintain regular meal times. Even if dinner is a festive affair, having regular breakfasts and lunches can provide a sense of normalcy for your children. Include a variety of nutritious foods to keep them energized.
Schedule downtime for your family. The holidays can be overwhelming, so it's essential to have moments of relaxation. Whether it's watching a holiday movie together, playing games or reading a book, carve out time to unwind.
Clearly communicate the schedule to your children. Let them know about upcoming events, so they are mentally prepared for changes. Having a visual calendar or countdown can help them understand the flow of the holiday season.
If your family has specific daily rituals, try to maintain them. Whether it's a bedtime story, morning walk or a predinner game, routines can anchor your children and provide a comforting sense of normalcy.
You don't have to do it all alone. Delegate tasks and share responsibilities with family members. Simplify holiday plans where possible, focusing on what brings joy rather than overloading your schedule.
Keep your children physically active. Whether it's a winter hike, a holiday-themed dance party or a walk to see festive decorations, physical activity can help regulate their energy levels and reduce stress.
Remember, it's OK if things don't go perfectly. Flexibility is key during the holidays, but you can create a routine that adapts to the holiday hustle while providing a sense of stability for your children.
Dr. Aileen Litwin is a pediatrician with Happy Healthy Pediatrics and a member of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society.