Looking for something to do as a family that goes beyond baking and crafts? Hoping to find some holiday magic and instill that feeling of connection in the hearts & minds of your children? Many families come together this time of year to find the true meaning of the holidays in a giving project.
Starting this week, our friends at the Falmouth Service Center have started collecting new toys for their Holiday Toy Distribution. They need to receive all toys by Friday, December 14th at noon at their location on Gifford Street. Click here for a list of needed items.
Want to do more? Finding an appropriate giving project for your family can be a challenge but Parenting Magazine has 12 more ways children can give back and create a little holiday magic for those in need. Click here to read 12 Ways Children Can Give Back This Holiday Season.
If the upcoming days (weeks?!) without school or daycare ahead are weighing on your mind, you're not alone! All that extra togetherness time to celebrate and enjoy each other can also feel like a lot of pressure to make great memories and Instagram-worthy photos to share. First, take a deep breath and re-read our earlier post about priorities here.
Now with a clear mind, think about the types of activities your child(ren) enjoys and those activities that you actually enjoying doing with your child. Decide how much screen time will you allow each day and how you will make sure you both get that much needed move-around time, too. If you have alternative childcare set up for the holiday break, think ahead about the ways you can keep your child's usual daily routine in place.
With those boundaries in mind you can explore all the fun ways to make the most of the quality time ahead and make a short list. After you visit our Special Events page to check out all the free family activities we are offering locally, visit Parents Magazine's Holiday page for great ideas for crafts to make with your children, recipes for entertaining, fun ways to decorate, and more!
And don't be afraid to toss the list aside at times to just sit (without your camera ready or messenger open) to take it all in. Really enjoy watching your baby explore the texture of the rug, your toddler concentrate on a puzzle, or your emerging reader attempt a new book. After all, the days seem long but the years are short!
When parenting children out of two homes, stress levels can easily reach an all-time high during the holiday season. Christina McGhee, MSW, has tips to keep your stress in check and your children’s needs at the top of your holiday list. Click to read How Divorced Parents Can Help Their Children Survive The Holidays.
For more information on parenting support available in our community, click to visit our Workshops, Classes, & Support Groups page.
For parents who have lost a child, the holidays — with all the family togetherness and joy mostly centered around children — are one of the hardest times of the year. In this heartfelt article, Mandy Hitchcock shares her experience about what grieving parents need at the holidays, and how you can help a friend or find the help you need. Click here to read What Grieving Parents Need at the Holidays.
For immediate help, Parents Helping Parents of Massachusetts offers a free & confidential 24/7 Stress Line: call 1-800-632-8188 (all languages available).
Do you have a child with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? If so, you already know that children with ADD/ADHD can find holiday and family occasions especially over-stimulating. Today, let's look at the ways clinical psychologist Carol Brady, Ph.D. helps parents better understand these difficulties and her simple strategies aimed to will help make holiday gatherings a happier time for everyone. Click here to read When Family Gatherings Meet ADHD: A Gameplan
Routine — or lack thereof — is a big issue for children during the holidays. It tends to start slowly with costume events in October and seems to keep going right on through to the New Year whether you have a school-age child participating in after school sing-a-longs, plays, and concerts or a toddler coming along for shopping trips, visits to relatives, or the aforementioned school plays and concerts. The changes in schedule, though well-intentioned, can impact behaviors and moods of children of all ages. Here are some tips to manage your child’s routine -- and your sanity -- during the holidays:
Make sleeping and eating and priority
When holidays bring on extra activities, long outings, and festive meals parents should prioritize their child’s sleeping and eating routines.
For toddlers and younger kids, sticking to a consistent eating and sleeping schedule makes it less likely they’ll have a meltdown. Take note: recommended sleep for toddlers is 11 to 14 hours in a 24-hour period; for preschoolers its 10 to 13 hours; and for school-age kids its 9 to 12 hours per night!
If festivities conflict with your child’s eating schedule, work to find a middle ground whenever possible and bring along healthy snacks if needed. Considering packing cozy winter pajamas for your young ones to change into just before leaving the party. It can make the transition on leaving a bit more smooth and the transfer to crib or bed much easier too.
Take something from home on the road
Comforting items from home often help children get used to a different environment with new faces and noises: blanket, pillow, or favorite stuffed animal. If you’re staying overnight, consider a noise machine or night light just like at home. For infants and toddlers, be sure to call ahead to see if a pack-and-play or crib is available where you’ll be staying.
Pack for activities
Children need to move and engage, and without the stimulating environment of daycare or school during holiday break they will need parents’ help more than ever to get what they crave. Pack for indoor and outdoor activities by having the right rain or snow gear (plus extra pairs of socks!) and creative multifunctional toys: a small bean-filled toy can play hide-and-seek, can be tossed in a game of catch, can soothe a fussy baby, or can slide down grandpa’s legs! A boxed deck of cards in a toddler’s hands can be a car driving across the table or can be used to play a variety of games for anyone who knows how to count! Whatever your options, encourage your child to help decide the activities and try to engage the whole family…the next one could be your new family tradition!
Speak up and be honest with family
Family members with whom you don’t usually interact may not be aware of the routines and rules of your household. Be open and explain why something is or is not allowed for your child. Try to use language such as “In our house we…” to reinforce the rules with your family and with your older child. By having set rules in mind, you can feel confident with the boundaries you have set while minimizing the stress of pressured decisions and later resentments.
Stay on top of screen time limits
Whether at home or traveling to visit friends & family, your child will have more access to TV, tablets, and smartphones. Stay on top of screen-time limits and the appropriateness of viewing content. Be with your child and discuss what you’re watching together, and (if applicable) encourage discussion among the other children in the room.
If you don’t already have limits at home, set them now: for children ages 2 to 5 years, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “limiting screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs while parents co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.” Furthermore, parents of children 18 to 24 months of age “who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing.” For children under 18 months old, the AAP recommends avoiding screen use other than video-chatting.
Enjoy the moment
Especially during this season of being thankful and spreading kindness and love, remember why we put some much into getting together with family members and visit with friends and neighbors: enjoying each others’ companies and showing our love. Take a deep breath, take it all in, and soak up these moments — and not just for the social media share — for the real human connection of being present with your children and making moments into memories they’ll carry through their lives!
With a calm approach and a priority (or two) in focus, let’s take a moment to look from your child's viewpoint...despite our best intentions, this season our children will experience: changes in routine, expectations for good behavior, meeting new people, eating different foods, clocking less sleep, or maybe all of the above? Sounds like a recipe for a difficult child rather than a happy holiday! Today, we reach out to the Center for Parenting Education for ideas to help you understand what your child is going through and how to help during the holiday season.
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Yes, the holiday season is here! Our first session of play & learn groups has come to a close but you can keep quality time with family at the top of your wish list! This season provides great opportunities to expose your child(ren) to new ideas and experiences, to reinforce learned skills and knowledge, and to encourage creativity, empathy and kindness (more ideas on that later).
But when “holiday time” is synonymous with over scheduling, frenzied shopping, and family obligation what’s a parent to do? We’ll post tips & ideas here to help you through and make “the holidays” feel like an actual holiday again.
First, the most important way parents can help ease anxiety in children during the holidays is by setting a calm example. If you let holiday stress get to you, your kids will certainly pick up on it so take steps to handle your own stress and anxiety first.
Today, make a commitment to simplify your priorities. As parents, the more-the-merrier can sometimes feel a bit more than merrier especially when it comes to the routines and schedules our young children depend on. To feel more in control, ask yourself what your top priorities are for the holiday season, then write them all down. Yes on an actual piece of paper. This is important because you are going to read over your list then cross off things that you could live without until you come to one (okay, or two) and that is what you care most about. From now on, everything you do this month is a choice to keep focusing on that and let the other things go.