While Thanksgiving and Christmas are magical times for many, for others it can be an incredibly stressful time of year, and cause a lot of anxiety and emotion. For our children this can manifest as poor behavior, moodiness and lots of fights with their siblings!
For all kids the break in routine will undoubtedly have an affect. We have over 8 weeks of interrupted schooling from mid-November to January, and even though kids tell you otherwise, they actually thrive on routine and structure. Even though they are glad to have a break from school work, many children miss their friends, the social interaction and academic stimulus they enjoy at school. Suddenly finding themselves stuck at home all day with their annoying brother and sister can make demons out of any saint.
The Holidays are also really tough on parents. Families are expected to shop, cook, shop, buy presents, plan activities, make sure everyone is happy, stick to a budget but also make sure that your home and family resemble Hallmark cards. The stress and anxiety we feel definitely has an affect upon our children. And for those parents unable to recreate the Hallmark ideal, feelings of sadness and frustration will be felt by the whole family.
So what can we do to keep ourselves and our kids sane over the Holidays?
- If you are lucky and have snagged one of the spots at the Club over the Holidays you can rest easy that you child will be getting all the fun and social interaction they need. For those not using our services over the vacations, try to arrange play dates for your children. Playdates are often reciprocal – so if you are willing to have a house full of children one day, you can then arrange for your children to be elsewhere another day, and get some much needed jobs done in peace and quiet.
- Stick to normal routines as much as possible. Your teen might want to sleep in but that doesn’t mean they have to be up all night. Keep sensible bedtimes and their mood will be much better.
- Set reasonable expectations for yourself and your children. They may want endless activities and a Hallmark Christmas, but if that is not in your budget or timeframe, then make sure they understand the limitations.
- Set a budget. People regularly get into debt over the Holidays and that will take away all the pleasure of the gifts etc you give. Know what you can spend, make a list and stick to it. Some families also do a Secret Santa, where everyone draws a name and buys one present. This is a great way to share the burden and perhaps buy one larger present instead of lots of small ones.
- Eat and drink in moderation. Holiday food doesn’t tend to be healthy and too much sugar and processed food negatively affects our mood. Plus it is time consuming and expensive. For Mom and Dad, remember that alcohol is a depressant and we want to set good examples to our children.
- Get plenty of exercise. It will help manage your child’s energy levels and lift everyone’s spirits.
- Limit screen time. Films, adverts, social media all show commercials and posts that give a distorted view of the Holidays and can make us feel that we don’t match up. Instead, listen to music, read books and play games together. Time and love is what counts, not the number of people round the table or presents under the tree.
If you are experiencing hardship and are worried about your ability to provide a dinner or presents this holiday season, we have lots of resources in town to help.
Christmas Cheer – 530 542 4934 – assistance with food and winter clothing
Live Violence Free – 530 544 2118 – shelter from domestic violence and assistance with presents
Family Resource Center – 530 542 0740 – Toys for Tots program
Food is available through our local churches, with a different church distributing each day
Kiwanis Club will be doing their winter coat drive – sign up to receive at your child’s school
Finally, here at the Club we provide a FREE snack and hot evening meal Monday through Friday, switching the hot meal to lunchtime during the vacations. We also have shopping vouchers for the Attic and can help you by reaching out to other agencies for toys and food.
We wish everyone the best for a wonderful holiday season and we are here if you need us.