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Managing holiday excitement

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

The countdown has begun!

Sunshine is at the age where she understands that an exciting day is coming. Right now, it's all Christmas, all the time. She is exuberant, to say the least. She squeals. She hops. She says several times a day, "Mommy, I just don't think I can wait for Christmas!" Patience is not a part of her vocabulary! This level of excitement in the eyes and activity of my daughter is one of the really fun things about the holiday season for me. It's infectious.

The countdown has begun!It's also completely exhausting.

The boys are also excited about Christmas, but with age comes (some level of) maturity and easier management of that excitement. Sunshine, though, is so physical in her exuberance. All I can say is, "Wow," and, "I'd forgotten about this."

selective memories

I have no idea how I managed the boys when they went through this same phase. I must have managed it somehow since we clearly all survived that time intact. But did I handle it well? No idea.

I asked the boys if they remember when they felt like they would jump out of their skin when Christmas didn't arrive soon enough. They say they remember being excited, but don't remember being excited in that physical, can't-contain-their-energy kind of way. Do they have selective memories or did my perception change? No matter. We still have the challenge of Sunshine and her energy over the next weeks at hand now.

A little more structure - and some quiet

My first instinct is to buckle down a bit on structure and routine. The less time she has just free to work herself into a frenzy, the easier it will be for all of us. But too strict a schedule doesn't seem like the right thing either. All my kids need bits of downtime in their days, and I do, too!

I imagine it's going to be combination of strategies that works. I think the evening routine, when Sunshine is tired and most likely to get worked up and overwhelmed emotionally, need to be kept as close to normal and consistent as possible. And quiet, too.

I think our days will need some more general structure and routine, but not quite absolutes. I've been pleased this fall when Sunshine and I have had some very loose, unstructured and fun days - but I don't think those can happen during December. (I have more than enough to do during December anyway.) She needs to have constructive things to fill up her time, and help her get through the seemingly endless days.

In the end, finding positive ways to manage my daughter's very joyful excitement makes it easier for all of us to get through this very exciting month - and enjoy and appreciate her joy, too.

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