While many of us are super excited about the holidays, and catching up with our families, eating lots of great food and generally celebrating that we all survived another year, for a lot of mothers with little ones, the holidays can seem daunting and stressful.
Everyone has different ideas on parenting, different expectations on a child’s behavior, and different methods of discipline. To keep the peace with the OG (Older Generation) who are very forthcoming with unwanted advice, a useful approach is to respond with a smile and a nod and say ‘thanks, yes that could be a useful strategy, I’ll give it some thought’ and then carry on. Keeping the peace is often a more useful strategy than arguing back, it’s not easy to sway people to your parenting style, so if you can grin and bear it, you’ll have a more peaceful holiday. You can’t change other people’s behavior but you can change your response to it.
If your child starts becoming more disobedient, more defiant, more ‘naughty’, try and put yourself in their shoes. New environments are quite overwhelming, with 12 other relatives sharing the same space. Build one on one time into your schedule for your child. Take them for a walk, or a hot chocolate or ice-cream, go and hide in the bedroom and read them some books, take them out for a new adventure, or use bath time and everyday activity times to remind them how wonderful they are, how much you love them, how special they are to you. Poor behavior is often indicative that your child is feeling disconnected and needs some focused love and attention.
Manage Your Expectations
Try to keep realistic expectations on what a holiday “should” be like. It would be lovely if kids could sit nicely around the table for a long time, but this isn’t realistic so grant them the freedom to do an activity they would enjoy, such as playing with their cousins so the adults can enjoy conversation.
Create Some New Traditions
Pick one or two easy activities that can become traditions. In our family we always bake and decorate Christmas cookies, face paint, do a large puzzle, and have a bonfire on the beach.
Keep the Schedule Slow
Don’t try and fit everything into the schedule. Kids need time to just rest and relax and play. So do you!