Monday, December 4, 2017

A Happy Holiday Starts in the Morning: How to Start Your Family's Day Off Right

A Happy Holiday Starts in the Morning: How to Start Your Family's Day Off Right

Your kids look forward to winter vacation the duration of fall, but sometimes the holidays are more stressful than fun. Between long days of travel and changes to daily routines, the holidays can leave kids tired and grumpy and parents at their wit’s end. If last year’s meltdowns have you thinking of skipping this year’s festivities altogether, don’t make any rash decisions just yet. It is possible to keep everyone happy over the holidays, it just requires planning ahead for a consistent holiday routine.

Family Time with Mobile Device
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It might not seem like you have much control over your family’s holiday schedule. Whether you’re traveling to visit family or they’re coming to stay with you, your daily itinerary is likely packed with shared meals and activities. It might be all you can do to keep your kids alive and fed during the most hectic hours, which means the most important time of day is before everyone arrives. By establishing a morning routine for your family, you can set everyone up to be on their best behavior until the day’s end.

Children thrive under predictability and consistency. According to the University of Kansas, it’s a lack of daily routine and clear expectations that’s behind many temper tantrums. While you may not be able to keep your kids’ routines exactly the same over the holidays, aim to keep eating and sleeping patterns as regular as possible.

Don’t let kids stay up late or sleep in just because it’s vacation. While some flexibility is acceptable, don’t stretch it beyond normal weekend bedtimes and wake-ups. If traveling between time zones, keep kids on their home schedule unless it’s a long trip. While it might make for some awkward scheduling, it will pay off when school starts again. The same goes for parents; resist the urge to sleep in or stay up late mingling. Getting plenty of rest will ensure your holiday relaxes you, not drains you.

It’s not just the quantity of sleep that matters; quality is important too. Unfortunately, no one sleeps well when they’re bunking in a crowded room alongside extended family members. If you’re traveling, retreat to a hotel each night for an environment conducive to quality rest. Family staying at your house? Rather than putting family members in kids’ beds, treat family bedrooms as sacred and keep visitors to guest rooms and common areas.

The battle isn’t over once morning has arrived. Breakfast is your opportunity to balance rich holiday meals and treats with nutritious foods. Rather than relying on sugary convenience foods like pastries to get through the holidays, stock up on the healthy options your family is used to. A good breakfast prevents overeating later, and, according to HealthyChildren, helps kids function better throughout the day. Once breakfast is ready, serve it around the table. If you let kids eat on the couch just because it’s vacation, they may think it’s okay to bend other rules too.

If you still have a couple hours of calm after breakfast is finished and before guests arrive, use that time for reading and homework assignments. Later in the day there will be too many distractions for your children to focus. Plus, since they’re used to being in school at this time, kids are more willing to settle in for quiet activity.

The post-breakfast period is also a great time for parents to mentally prepare for the day ahead. Holidays can test your patience as a parent, especially if you find family get-togethers stressful, as so many people do. Take time to center yourself before festivities are underway. By carving out time for exercise, meditation, or another self-care activity, you’ll be able to take parenting challenges in stride.

Finally, make sure everyone knows what to expect from each day. Disruptions are unavoidable over the holidays, and keeping everyone on the same page is key to preventing unnecessary stress. When everyone is well-rested, well-fed, and knows what the day will bring, the whole family functions better.

Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood. 

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