Stress- Free Holidays

No one can argue – the holidays bring such beautiful, special, enlightening, warm times. However, we also can’t argue that they are busy! From socializing, planning, shopping, decorating, hosting, writing cards, and more, the holidays can definitely be a source of, however much worth it, STRESS! If we are feeling the pressure, there is no doubt that our children are feeling it too. Their routines change, their environments (extra lights, sounds, decoration), the way people are interacting changes, they are planning for gifts and celebrations in their own ways, as well as trying to deal with everything going on with COVID-19. 

This time of year, so many families report increases in meltdowns, decreased communication, increased movement seeking, ‘regression’ in tolerance to textures for food and clothing, extra time to complete homework, behaviors at school… 

These are all signs of STRESS AND OVERLOAD. 

Here are some tips to avoid it:

  • Fill your cup first! Self care is critical.. If you are feeling stressed, your child can sense that. Find ways to slow down your holiday routine. 

  • Keep routines as consistent as possible, this is good for you AND for them! 

    • Also, prepare them for any changes in routine! “We MAY have to go another time…” or, “if it is too busy there, we can do ___ instead”

    • Create a sense of control

      • Give them choices

      • Encourage independence

      • Encourage communication of emotions and needs

  • Understand your child’s tolerance and, learn to help them communicate

    • Take breaks, and, encourage your child to do the same

    • Leave a little extra time and room for stress and emotions to happen

  • Passive regulating strategies

    • During busy times, it is common for us to burn-out or feel the fatigue. As a result, it is important to incorporate regulating strategies that don’t burn energy! 

      • Consider using weighted items, like a weighted blanket (please consult your therapist for appropriate weight and usage)

      • Give squeezes, tight hugs, massages

        • Teach your child to do this independently

      • Use a hand massager

      • Incorporate essential oils

      • “Messy Play”

        • Build some “messy bins” by getting a large container and filling it with dry rice, beans, beads, water beads and plenty of fun and small items from the dollar store

        • Use shaving cream in the shower or your child’s preferred bubble bath and water toys

  • Reduce input as much as possible!

    • Offer your child large headphones and the ability to listen to music, or use them to just block out extra sound

    • Build forts and small nooks they can hang out in to get some alone or quiet time

    • Use low lighting when appropriate, or warm lights 

    • Reduce background noise, choose music carefully

    • Limit electronics, especially 2 hours before bedtime

    • consider your child’s reaction to changes in the home, decorating etc.