It’s that time, isn’t it? The presents have all been opened, the rolls of wrapping paper are back in the closet and the new toys have a few scuff marks. Let’s not even get into the sugar crash from all those cookies and candies! After a year of anticipation — and three manic months of post-Halloween holiday crush — the long-awaited holidays have come and gone.
Maybe there’s even some disappointment, if a child didn’t receive a much-desired gift. I remember one childhood Christmas when I coveted a Raggedy Ann doll and received an electric blanket, instead! No wonder children get a little melancholy at the end of December and into early January.
During the twinkly days of holiday time, it’s easy to forget that “normal” life is often pretty darn good, too. As we begin a new year, now is a good time to help children ease back into the familiar flow of everyday life.
1. Reintroduce the concept of quiet time
Begin building some calmer activities into their day: reading a good book together, working on a hobby, doing a puzzle, playing a board game, working on a craft project or taking a walk in the snow — or the lack thereof!
2. Taper off the sugary treats
It seems that everywhere you turn during the holidays, someone is offering a plateful of yummy goodies — and it would be rude to say no, right? All these sugary snacks can wreak havoc on kids’ systems, not to mention your own. You don’t have to throw them all out at once, but do start getting everyone back into a healthy eating routine as you ease into January.
3. Talk it out
If you notice your children are feeling melancholy, take the opportunity to let them talk about their feelings. Show that you are there to listen, not to judge or tell them how to feel, and that you understand. You can share that they are not alone — lots of kids feel that way when the holidays are over.
4. Watch the clock
One of my favorite things about school vacations was the chance to stay up later than usual and then to sleep in the next morning. Bliss! Don’t let the routine of school, early morning wake ups and breakfasts get too hectic in your home. Pay attention to bedtime and try to do some of the prep for school in the evenings.
5. Enjoy some winter outings
Going back to school doesn’t have to mean the end of fun activities. Hold a family meeting to choose the things you’d all do together: ice skating, seeing a movie or attending a concert. That will give the kids something to look forward to each day as they re-enter their school and extracurricular routines.
The holidays are a wonderful “time out of time” — a unique couple of weeks to enjoy freedom and togetherness and special celebrations. Regular life has its beauty, too, and helping kids make the transition between the two can help them calibrate the changes more smoothly.