Switching gears can be hard -- people don't have on/off switches! Going from one extreme (very busy) to another (not at all busy) can set the stage for emotional confusion for the whole family. Just as with so many aspects of our lives, it's a transition issue, and some do it better than others. Sure, it sounds great to just stop everything and do absolutely nothing for a few days, but it might be better for everyone to plan a little bit for the post-holiday period. Create a positive, thoughtful transition into the new year.
You may wish to revel in no structure and routine in your days after the holiday business, but some structure is still in order. It doesn't have to be rigid or extensive or even the same as your "usual," but no structure at all can make you and your kids feel a little lost. It can be its own stress! What am I supposed to be doing?
A little structure can make your downtime more enjoyable, actually. Whether it's walking the dog everyday or keeping to the bedtime routine (a little later in the evening than the norm, perhaps), a little structure is comforting -- for you as well as the kids. Pressure doesn't release instantaneously. The bit of routine can help set expectations and step it down gently.
If there are post-holiday tasks to take care of, get them out of the way quickly. My kids don't like writing thank you notes, either, but they do recognize that not having that task hanging over their heads during this week off from school is far more pleasant than the displeasure of actually writing them.
Although it may not be time to take down decorations, if there are specific household tasks to be done, get them done sooner rather than later. Do you really want all that laundry piling up? Once these small tasks are done, you'll be able to more fully relax into the post-holiday period.
Definitely get out of the house and do something different. Take advantage of the time to go to a favorite museum or engage in an outdoor activity. Consider a day-trip to a favorite place just a little beyond your normal range. Create a new tradition, even.
For example, if you and your spouse are juggling work schedules so one is home with the kids while they are off from school, consider a new tradition of meeting Dad for lunch near his work, or meeting up for something special after work near his office. Think about what you can do that is different and fun (but not high stress) that can take advantage of this time off.
With some thought and planning for the transition from the busy holidays into the new year, you can create a fun, enjoyable week after Christmas with a little something for everyone in the family.
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