The winter holiday season can be a time of great joy and festivity, but with COVID-19 cases on the rise and Christmas around the corner, your family may be experiencing stress.
Bringing family together can be wonderful. It lets children feel like they’re part of a community and experience a lot of love. But, with a pandemic in play and outside stressors at hand, it can be difficult to experience a stress-free and still connected and social holiday.
Dr. Eleanor Mackey, PhD, a psychologist at Children’s National Hospital, offers tips for handling the holidays so that you and your children can enjoy the time together, safely and stress free.
When possible, keep routines in place
Tired, cranky children increase stress for everyone involved. When possible, keep bedtimes and wake up times consistent and keep as many elements of the routine as consistent as possible in order to minimize fatigue and stress.
Maintain a mostly healthful diet and incorporate the fun holiday treats in small ways throughout the season instead of all at once. Kids on a sugar high can also add to the stress of those around them!
Manage your own stress
Preparing for the holiday and worries about keeping your family safe or financial difficulties can be stressful and your stress will affect your children and your own enjoyment of the holiday season. When possible, take some time for yourself, get as much sleep as possible, delegate tasks and Google deep breathing or meditation exercises to practice at home.
One of the things that might be forced upon us this year is a lack of holiday gatherings parties, and events. Although this will likely be accompanied by disappointment and sadness, it is also an opportunity to embrace a slower pace. Make sure you slow down and embrace the time to be at home with the family playing games, reading books, watching a movie or sleeping.
Make safe decisions for your family
While it may be difficult to recognize that some circumstances are out of your control, making safe decisions for your family can help in the long run. Focus on what you can control. That means planning safe and socially distant alternatives to celebrate the holiday with family members that don’t live in your household. This can be done digitally through a video call or even a phone call. Get creative—play games with family from far away—charades, Pictionary, scavenger hunts and others can still be enjoyed by video calls. Kids can enjoy cookie decorating or crafts with friends and cousins via video chat and feel connected and have fun.