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Preparing Your Family for the Holidays

The holiday season can be a joyous and exciting time for families. From gatherings, to festivities and exchanging gifts, to enjoying holiday food, there can be a lot to look forward to. However, the season can also be an overwhelming time if your family is making adjustments to regular routines, following a long to-do list for preparations, making travel plans, and keeping up with social demands. We have some tips on how to bring more ease into the season and how to reduce stress.

While it's normal to see some changes in your family's typical schedules, especially when kids are on break from school, it's helpful to set expectations with your children about those adjustments. Kids may stay up and wake up later than usual, but let them know what the rules and exceptions are around this particular event. For example, you may allow your older child to stay awake until midnight on New Year's, but avoid letting them slip into a new sleep pattern that will make it difficult to return to their regular routine when their vacation ends. Keep your children informed of new changes such as dinner starting an hour later when guests come over or if you're going to someone else's home. Let your kids plan their days according to some of these adjustments so that they don't feel overwhelmed or have trouble adapting. And, start getting back on their school schedule a couple days before break ends if possible.

If you're traveling, make sure to plan ahead as much as possible and talk to your kids about what to expect. Encourage them to create a list of what they need to bring to make packing easier. For a full list of holiday travel tips, check out this resource.

As you're preparing for gatherings and participating in holiday activities, remember that you don't need to do everything alone. Enlist your children's help to make them feel included and to alleviate your workload. You can make it fun by playing holiday music and letting your kids choose some of the decorations or create their own. Doing things together as a family can bring everyone closer and maintain the holiday spirit.

Although this season can be a busy time, it's always good to remember to unwind and enjoy some downtime. Allow your children to have breaks when they can just relax and de-stress, whether that's watching a holiday movie together or reading a book. Don't forget to serve as an example yourself. Kids can pick up on stress and be affected by this. Take the time to practice your own self-care and get enough rest.

One of the most enjoyable holiday activities for many families is making holiday food together. Following exciting recipes and decorating cookies can be a joyous experience for children. But, you'll want to make sure everyone is following safety precautions in the kitchen. Hands should always be washed with soap and water before touching food. Raw foods like vegetables and fruits should also be thoroughly washed before consumption. Fully cook any meat or poultry to kill off bacteria. Be mindful of expiration dates on products and keep raw foods separate from cooked foods in the refrigerator to avoid bacteria growth. Younger children should not use the stove, oven, or microwave. For older children, encourage them to use oven gloves and teach them how to protect themselves from burns. When eating at other’s homes, be sure to ask about allergenic foods if your child has food allergies.

Lastly, it's important to remember that illnesses commonly spread during the holidays. Keep your children away from anyone who might be sick and encourage them to practice good hygiene habits. For more info about sickness prevention, check out our previous blog.

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