When School Vacation Meets Holiday Stress
When kids hop off the bus on the last day of school before holiday vacation, it's like the world opens up for them! They sled and build snowmen (or pull out the suntan lotion, dependent on your part of the world), run around the backyard, enjoy some extra screen time, play checkers…and then they sit on the couch and mope because there's nothing to do. Ironically, you have a thousand things to do! How can you catch a break from parenting to tame your holiday stress and bust their boredom?
Hire a nanny and jet off to Jamaica for a week? Sounds good! Not feasible for most of us, but good! Short of that, try these great tips:
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The holidays can get chaotic, and there seems like there is no way to get everything done by yourself. So don't! In our neighborhood, we do a sort of kid swap with six families. One day, a mom or dad takes all six kids. The next, another parent takes charge, and so on. This way, we can all take a parent break to do our holiday shopping, complete preparations, plan menus, or just get in our jammies and watch Downton Abbey.
Hire a babysitter.
You don't even have to leave the house: maybe you're upstairs working or wrapping gifts, and they're downstairs playing board games or making holiday crafts.
Schedule a playdate.
Our kids tend to be socially challenged. They're not as likely to call a friend up and ask if they want to come over. Encourage them to do so, or arrange a playdate for them.
Create a Vacation Fun List.
Take some time now to help your kids come up with a list of fun activities they want to do over vacation. It could be building a robot, coloring, playing with Legos, writing a fantasy story, playing on the iPad –whatever they enjoy. When they're complaining there is nothing to do, you can say, "What's on your list? What three things do you want to do today?"
Remember, our kids are about 3-5 years behind their same-age peers developmentally. We think a 10 year-old should be able to entertain himself, but would you expect a 5 year-old to? It's hard for them to "just do it" themselves, particularly if they have trouble initiating activity. This list will give them a jumpstart!
The Power of a Plan
Have a plan in place so you can take quick action when boredom rears its ugly head! The upside of these tips for parent breaks is that they also give you more time to do the pre- and post-celebration activities you need to do, reducing your holiday stress.