Updated: Jan 4, 2020
The lights, the noise, the toys, the parties and the excitement are bombarding every one of our senses and our kiddo’s senses this time of year. The stress of it all decreases our bandwidth. Couple that with the lack of routine and structure and you know what that leads to, right? Even more dysregulation - i.e. less listening, more defiance, meltdowns and power struggles. You know the drill.
While you’re thinking about everyone else's needs, it may seem impossible to even consider your own self-care but you know what they say, if Mama or Papa ain’t happy, nobody is. So here’s my first tip.
Tip #1 Fill your own tank - aka self-care.
Before you immediately dismiss this as impossible, please keep reading...
Why is it crucial to fill your own tank? Because you are the one with the superpower to set the tone at home and co-regulate your child. But not if your tank is empty!
Self-regulation is the best parenting tool you have when it comes to dealing with your kids’ behavior. It helps you think more clearly and be more present and don’t you want your mind at its best when you’re trying to come up with the best parenting solutions in the moment?
Self-care to fill your tank starts with the tiniest of baby steps. And yet even tiny steps add to your bandwidth and help you be even more the parent you’re wanting to be. I invite you to start with these questions.
What is 1 simple thing you require for self-care - something that gets compromised when there’s a loss of routine and structure? Is it drinking enough water? Remembering to give yourself a snack in the afternoon? A 10 minute shower? A 10-15 minute walk? Listening to music? Think small.
What gets in the way of this happening?
What support do you need to allow this self-care requirement to happen? (Partner, friend, mother’s helper, a change in routine, etc.)
I’ve found that once you answer them, self-care becomes much more possible.
Tip #2 Actively manage your child’s internal and external environment.
So practically, what does that mean?
Stay on top of the basics like hungry, tired, overstimulated, etc. It can be easy to lose track of the simple things with all the added stress and stimulation and end up thinking you’re dealing with a bigger problem than simply that your child needs a cheese stick.
Keep extra activities to a minimum. There are so many fun things to do this time of year. Be sure whatever activities you choose make sense for YOUR child. Ask yourself
How does my child do in crowds?
Do they need down time between activities?
Does the timing of the activity interfere with routine meals or bedtime?
Then make their schedule predictable by using a whiteboard calendar your child can see, or if your kids are older, use a shared virtual calendar. Predictability is key to settling anxiety.
Tip #3 Make a holiday plan.
The first step to a holiday plan that works is to do the opposite of what you think and start with you! Use tip #1 above to schedule yourself into the holiday plan.
Take the next week and a half to work on step 1 of your plan and in my next blog post after Thanksgiving, I’ll talk about how to add the remaining elements necessary for an effective holiday plan. Keep your eye on your inbox.