Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.
Over the next five weeks, I will share my 5 H Plan for Keeping the “Happy” in Happy Holidays. It’s a simple strategy that I hope will assist you to navigate through this time of year.
It doesn’t matter how you celebrate or if you celebrate any of the traditional holidays, this season finds most families dealing with more time constraints and temptations. Our children are bombarded with excessive programming, ads, and store displays geared to lure them into begging their parents for MORE. As advocates for our children, we must be vigilant in protecting them and our homes from the craziness. If you struggle with how to do that, I hope that this simple plan helps you remember some important tips for the holidays or any time in life when you have additional time demands, family members around, interrupted routines, or are traveling.
The 5 H plan consists of:
- Healthy Habits
- Hearts of Gratitude
- Helping Hands
- Having a Hearty Plan
- Hilarious Humor
Healthy Habits Tips
- Think differently about packing a bag when you go out, even if your children are older and you no longer need to take anything with you. When a child is hungry, he gets grumpy. Plan NOW for healthy snacks and water to have with you at ALL times and prepare to be gone longer than you expect.
- If you are staying in someone’s home, plan ahead to have your child’s favorite foods available. You will be surprised at the difference this will make. Sometimes this is just the ice-breaker that she needs in a new environment.
- Be flexible with your schedule but keep bedtime routines the same, if possible. It’s okay to let your child stay up late to visit with grandma and grandpa, but his routine is very comforting when it’s time to go to bed. Connect with him at bedtime just as you do at home.
- Make sure your child gets physical activity each day. Plan time when she can be outside to run and play and get rid of stored energy, even in cold weather. Teach her relaxation skills by playing games like “Frosty Says.” Make the stretching purposeful … anything to get the wiggles out.
- Continue to limit total screen time — computer games, video games, and television. Remember that your child will be bombarded with extra programming and ads during the holidays.
- Watch sugary snacks for both you and your child. As you see your child’s behavior escalating, check to ensure that he has had proper nutrition.
- Keep your child’s meal times on a routine whenever possible. Her body has adjusted to eating at certain times, and it is wise to keep her schedule.
- While it is true that there will be some things that you cannot control, be a strong participant in the health of your child and remain diligent regarding your own health, as well.
- Be consistent with the great parenting skills that apply throughout the year. Know where your child is at all times. Statistics bear out the fact that children are often harmed by those who should protect them. Watch for signs of distress and don’t assume that your child is safe just because you are with family. Check in on older children who are influencing younger children.
Next week, I will write about “Hearts of Gratitude,” the second H in the 5 H plan for Keeping the “Happy” in Happy Holidays.