by Jamie Bonnema
Christmas break is upon us and our houses are busier. We’re enjoying time with family, taking part in beautiful church services, and traveling. With any change in schedule, no matter how special, there are challenges. And, with our kids being off-schedule, we can have extra challenges. Here are a few tips to help your break go more smoothly so you can really enjoy the wonder of the season.
- Keep reasonable bedtimes. There are times during break that will require breaking your bedtime routine, but stick to it as much as possible. Getting good sleep helps with mood, immune system, and handling changes. Keeping a reasonable bedtime schedule will also make it easier to get back into your morning routine when school begins again after break.
- Enjoy food but don’t go crazy! Christmas season is a great time for good food and special treats. While you don’t have to deprive your family of what’s looking good at a get-together, you should be sensible in how much your family indulges. Eat healthy in between, to stay on top of your game mentally and boost your immune system. Then, when it’s time for events you can relax a bit when the treats are around.
- Get the family outdoors. Fresh air, sunshine, and physical activity go a long way for mental health, physical health, and relationships. Create some family memories with a brisk walk, sledding, building snow forts, ice skating, or an animal print scavenger hunt on a snowy trail. Don’t let the cold stifle your outdoor fun and exercise!
- Take some time to slow down and enjoy the moment. We can feel so crazy busy this time of year that we don’t think we have time to take a break, give our full attention to our kids, or even have a conversation with our spouse. But, it’s amazing how everything still works out when we take the time to breath, think, be thankful, and spend time on the things that really count. So, take some time to sit by the lit-up tree at night, with a glass of eggnog, letting your mind breathe a bit. In the quiet, grab a pen and explore your goals for the new year. Simply take time for yourself!
- Give each other space. Your kids may not be used to being around each other all day without as many structured activities. Arguments increase, and pretty soon parents feel like they’re job is to be the bouncer for the fights or referee for bickering. The key is to divide and conquer, giving each their space. When emotions run high, have each child pick a different room and a quiet solo activity. Soon, their attitudes will be back on track, and they will be asking to play with each other again.
While you enjoy your break also keep this in mind: Your schedule can be busier, with more demands, time commitments, and increased kid responsibilities on top of it all. You are trying to make the time between Christmas and New Year’s Day special for everyone and sometimes put an unreasonable amount of pressure on yourself to achieve perfection. Remember, Christmas is already perfect because our Savior was born—we couldn’t accomplish a more perfect gift if we tried! So, go easy on yourself, offer yourself grace, and keep your expectations at this time reasonable. Enjoy the rest of this holiday season.
Jamie Bonnema is a former youth treatment counselor for residential care, education, and wilderness programs. She is a married mother of four children, works from home with a biotech company, and loves spending time outdoors.