Parenting During the Festive Season

A joyous time can turn sour in a blink if stress and other factors are left to take over

The last month of the year can sometimes be one of the most overwhelming months for a family. As you join the festivities and try your best to tick as many things off your 2022 to-do list as possible, it can be a challenge to navigate through your busy schedule while also attending to the needs of your family.

From ensuring that your family is fed and dealing with tantrums or meltdowns, the challenges during this time of the year can get overwhelming. Plus, let’s not forget about having to attend family events and parties that might consist of individuals with strong (and mostly unappreciated) opinions that might cause stress and tension within a family unit.

There are many factors that can make December go wrong for parents and here are some tips that can be helpful in bringing out the best of December for you and your family.

#1 Have a family discussion prior to the event

Before every event, it’s best to brief your family and while this sounds fancy or it may feel like military training, the reason behind these discussions is really to set expectations right. This way, everyone will be on the same boat as you work together towards creating a positive experience for everyone. Children especially may not understand what to expect during an event and this can be helpful to prepare them for what is to come. As for you and your spouse, a briefing also helps to avoid any assumptions and miscommunications.

Some important points to discuss during the briefing include the time you plan to leave your house for the event, the time you would like to head home, discussing boundaries with your children (such as the consumption of sugary treats or no hugging to reduce the possibility of catching an infectious disease) and also the size of the crowd to expect.

#2 Be prepared that difficult conversations may pop up

It’s difficult to control the words that come out from an individual’s mouth but instead, you can be in control of how you and your family react to the situation. A universal trait among families is to have one or more family member that tend to pose questions or make remarks that are often found to be unhelpful and as a matter of fact, hurtful and triggering most of the time.

As a couple and parents, it’s important to discuss about what to do if you’re caught in such a situation. Often, such remarks come from close family members and this can make it trickier on how one should navigate through the situation. Therefore, having your partner’s back during such times will be helpful in not only proving that you’re an independent family unit but it also helps your partner know that he or she is not left alone in the situation. This is because, such comments and remarks from others can easily trigger emotions that would cause things to turn bitter in a family.

As for you and your spouse, a briefing also helps to avoid any assumptions and miscommunications.

#3 Be aware of your child’s temperament

It’s not only the adults that feel overwhelmed. With the stretched daily schedules and adjusted routines, children too can easily feel overwhelmed. It’s important to remember that children cope better with a routine they’re familiar with and this is why, trying your best to stick to their normal routine is important. However, we also understand that it can be difficult to work around the usual routine especially when it involves plans from external parties.

While there is no doubt that your children will try their very best to cope with the festive schedule, it also important for parents to be sensitive to how they’re feeling. For example, unusual night waking can be a sign of overtiredness or your child being extra fussy can indicate that he or she is feeling overwhelmed. During these times, it’s vital for parents to help their child navigate through the situation with support and love.

Also, to help you cope, you might want to be prepared beforehand such as to identify a quiet room that your child can unwind in during the event.

#4 Check in with your family

It’s always best not to assume that everyone is okay even though they may be smiling while in the presence of others. Instead of allowing a buildup of negative emotions throughout the day, it’s always best to check in with your family every now and then to make sure that they’re feeling alright. A simple question such as “Are you okay?” or “Is everything well?” can open the door for your child or partner to raise a flag for help if needed.

In the event such situation arises, it’s best to address it immediately and not wait until you return home. Doing so, will help to avoid heading home with a whirlwind of emotions including hurt and anger.

To overcome the emotional and physical demands of the festive season and the year-end, family support is crucial. Knowing that your family has your back and that you are there for your those you care about, can help you navigate through any storm even during times when you’re feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, angry and hurt. Be it children or adults, it is not about fancy dinners or gifts but instead, being heard and having our needs met will no doubt make the last month of the year a memorable one.