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Holiday Structure for Families

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 27, 2016

OK, if you are like me, you look forward to giving your kids some downtime when the end-of-year holidays hit. But let's face it. Having school-age kids home for a two-week break is certainly a blessing -- but it can also be a little bit difficult.

This is often due to a need for structure. Busy and overscheduled kids, when faced with two weeks and nothing planned, may go a little nuts. The transition and its aftermath could stress the whole family out.

My three kids are not immune. They, like the majority of children, do best with predictability and a set routine. So, what do we do in our household?

I’ve found that a calendar or visual schedule is helpful. Whether a child is excited or laid back in nature, we need to manage their expectations. This doesn't require scheduling every second. Instead, we aim for balance. This means maybe a little computer time, maybe some free choice, maybe cleaning their room and maybe a shopping trip. Putting these activities into a schedule and creating some structure can help kids regulate their body and emotions.

It’s all because a certain amount of predictability is very good for developing minds. (Come to think of it, it’s good for adults, too!)

For our family, we love hikes. Certainly we’ll schedule some shopping and visiting friends over the holidays, but what works best in our home is knowing we are doing something together that is healthy and fun. This type of physical activity provides a grounding for the kids -- sort of an anchor, and one that’s very life-affirming.

Of course, if you celebrate Christmas, there’s that post-holiday crash. The kids are all revved up, which means that putting together an after-Christmas schedule is extremely important. The excitement and emotion of the big day can be overwhelming, and most kids need a schedule that brings them back to reality soon after.


Dr. Trenna Sutcliffe loves kids, families, pets, travel and hiking. Discover more about her work here.

Tags:  parenting 

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