Next year I am going to keep it simple

Next year I am going to keep it simple

It's Christmas! 

For so many Christmas is magical, time spent with family and friends, children full up of sugar and counting the minutes to the next fun activity and the next present or treat! The anticipation of Christmas morning making sleep impossible.

Behind every ‘perfect and magical’ Christmas there is a massive to do list, endless last minute tasks, parental guilt and a ‘next year I am going to keep it simple’.

That was a normal year, remember those? Where there were no last minute restriction changes, constant testing, self isolation, lack of predictability and security. We are all feeling fraught, frazzled, a little disappointed and worried. That is the grown ups among us, feeling overwhelmed, adapting constantly and just exhausted.

What about the children? They are living through it too and without half the coping strategies. They are over hearing snippets of conversations, not understanding everything and seeking reassurance anywhere they can. Some children will bumble through, resilient and unperturbed. They focus on what is important to them and come out the other side unscathed.

The anxious child, the worrier, may be drowning. He/She is drawing on the last resources of parents, withdrawing from the festivities and just trying to get through the days. They are capable of the same resilience they may just need some scaffolding from those around them.

We've put together some tips and tricks for the anxious or worried child at Christmas time. 

  1. Create a time each day where the child can share what is on their mind.
  2. Do not overload with information about the plans for the whole week, just focus on the day ahead - breaking the time into manageable chunks.
  3. If visiting friends or family - pack snacks (plain and savoury) as well as water bottles and preferred activities - colouring/reading/comfort toys - in their own bag that they can access independently.
  4. When you arrive remind them of where bathrooms are, remind them of ‘safe’ people to touch base with if they can’t find their caregiver.
  5. Make sure there is a safe space for them to hang out - if people are visiting your own house or apartment- keep their bedrooms off limits to guests.
  6. Try and stick to meal time routines, breakfast lunch and dinner of well balanced preferred meals as well as bedtimes.
  7. No one ever said all presents need to open on Christmas morning. Santa and parent presents can happen at one time and the rest over the following days. Too many presents can be overwhelming and not enjoyable.
  8. Getting out for trips to playground or out for walks will also help to break the day and give them a chance to recharge.
  9. Most importantly remind your child that there is a chance to start again. If you have a tricky morning/activity - it does not have to mean a tricky day. We can start again, take a deep breath, have a hug, leave the tricky moment/time pass and focus on the next thing.
Colin the tortoise is a big fan of "let’s start again".

We would like to wish you a happy and simple Christmas time, stuffed full of love, happiness and calm from all team at Clever Tortoise.

Noelle Hartnett