The holidays are a special time of year for many families, yet can also be a stressful time of year! To help ease some of the stress and to increase the joy of the season, here are some helpful tips and reminders:
- The holidays are for gathering loved ones together, creating special memories, and celebrating family traditions. Family traditions, at a young age, do not have to be elaborate, expensive, or even require lots of outings. Baking cookies, creating home-made presents, making personal ‘thank-you’ cards are all great activities for your children to do at home together!
- On the flip side, over the break, if your children are seeking a change in routine you can look to friends and family to give a different kind of gift…instead of presents, have them give the gift of “presence” and take your children for a morning outing. Visits to the Garfield Park Conservatory, Lincoln Park Zoo, Navy Pier’s Children’s Muesum, your neighborhood park, are all great ways for family and friends to spend quality time with your children and give them experiences and memories to cherish! Keep in mind, if ever you/your child feels that certain outings are “too much,” then encourage activities that fit and work more easily for everyone, especially your little ones. Young children thrive on structure and routine, and too many new events or crowded venues can often overwhelm them! Also remember to coach them in advance of what to expect to give them some context or understanding if a situation will be new to them.
- If you (or relatives) are looking for gift ideas, encourage gifts that foster creativity, open-ended play, are gender neutral, made of quality material, and promote purposeful activity (remember, children love to do real work with real tools)! Gifts such as building blocks, art supplies, cooking utensils, fabrics, chalkboards, doll sets, cars sets, woodworking/tool sets are gifts which allow children to dictate their play (rather than the play dictating them)! Some website links to check out for inspiration: For Small Hands, Melissa and Doug, Plan Toys
- Create opportunities for your children to give (not just receive)! Children can gather their gently used toys and take them to Goodwill or pass along to a cousin or friend. Giving gifts to others can be more meaningful when the child partakes in creating the gift for them. Children can create a piece of artwork, make soap, string beads for a necklace, decorate a picture frame, dictate a story, paint a flowerpot, bake treats, make cards, decorate an ornament…!
- Lastly, give yourself a break! Don’t put unnessary pressure on yourself and recognize and reflect on when you might be feeling this. Make a conscious effort to make a shift if you are feeling overwhelmed. Take a little time for yourself. Rejuvenate and allow yourself time to re-charge your batteries! And remember, children need this kind of time too–allow them time each day for a little quiet rest on their own!
Happy Holidays to you and your family!
P.S. I really enjoyed this blog post from Simplicity Parenting: Simple Toys Make Smarter Kids, as it aligns so much with Montessori’s philosophy!