Making the most of the holiday season with your family

The holidays are drawing near and, dear parents, I know that this time of year is not easy for you. The gap between your energy level and the energy level of your kids is growing by the second, no one in your house is following the rules right now and that elf just will not cooperate (the fall from the shelf last year seems to have left him with amnesia). 

Let’s talk about how to make the most of the next three weeks. We all want to do more than just survive the holidays. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind to help you stay focused on being present with your loved ones, both big and small:

  •  Let go of the need to do everything. 

  • I will be the first to admit that I struggle with this one. As soon as December hits, I want to do ALL of the things. What I’m learning, though, is that I need to evaluate what I really want to do with my family. Which activities are just things that we’ve always done and which ones actually bring us all joy? The ones that are on the list “just because” get axed, creating extra time and energy for the things that are most meaningful to us.    

  • It doesn’t have to be perfect. Seriously. 

  • It’s hard to escape the images of a family sitting down to a beautiful, golden turkey, the children in their best Christmas outfits waiting patiently for dinner to be served. Anyone else sick of seeing that? Kids (and parents) are experiencing a LOT of emotions this time of year and excitement can very quickly turn into either anger or sadness. It’s one of the reasons why you  may see more behavioural issues this time of year. Suggestion number one will help keep this in check. By reducing your family’s commitments, you’re providing your children with more time to breathe and self-regulate. Even when you do everything right, though, it likely won’t be a Christmas like the ones you see in the movies. By accepting that and appreciating the beauty in the actual moments you have together, you’re modeling healthy expectations for your children and showing them that real life is messy and that’s okay.    

  • Acknowledge people-fatigue  

  • Everyone doesn’t have to be together all day, every day during the holiday season. That goes for immediate and extended family! Additionally, there may be people in your family who are dealing with social anxiety, making holiday gatherings particularly stressful. Be gracious to those around you, knowing that making small-talk and chatting in large groups can be very intimidating. If you notice that your kids are withdrawing and asking for down time, it's important to respect that, too. Plan time for them to just do nothing. In doing this, you are encouraging your children to listen to their own instincts, fostering habits that promote good mental health. 

    Take care of yourselves this holiday season, parents! You can’t pour from an empty cup. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! 

    Mme Michelle is an Instructional Resource Teacher in St. John’s, Newfoundland and is passionate about helping students with diverse needs thrive at school and in the real world. She started French For Life in 2012 with the goal of helping French Immersion students get the support they need to become bilingual, despite academic challenges. Interested in learning more about French For Life virtual or in-person tutoring? Contact .   

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