Christmas is a magical time and for many children it is the most exciting time of the year but there can also be a lot of pressure on parents to spend time and money creating the perfect festive setting for the family. We asked our ESMS counsellor Melanie Allan to share some tips on how help make it the fun, relaxing time your family needs:
All I want for Christmas is….
It is a good idea to have a family chat about hopes and expectations over the Christmas holiday. Parents can often have unspoken wishes about the jobs that other family members will help with and children often have unspoken wishes about the things they would like to do and the gifts they are hoping to receive. If you have a teenager you could try having this conversation while you are doing a task or driving so you have their attention.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Christmas is a time to relax but we all know that there can be points in the day when too much time under the same roof can create tensions. Getting the family out for some fresh air is a great way to keep everyone upbeat. It is a good idea to tell the children when the walk will happen so they can mentally prepare themselves to leave the house and plan your route before you set off, to avoid arguments about where you are going and how to get there.
Do they know it’s Christmas
As children grow into teenagers Christmas can lose its magic leaving them less excited and enthusiastic than they were in years gone by. This can be difficult for parents when you are still making a lot of effort to make the season special. It can also be confusing for young people to find they don’t feel as excited as they used to. But it is important not to lose heart. Despite the lack of enthusiasm, deep down most teenagers will still appreciate the old traditions.
One way of restoring their festive cheer is to get them involved in the decorating and planning and ask them to come up with an activity they would like to do as a family on Christmas day. Asking them to think of a way to give some Christmas cheer to others in need in your local community is another good way of reigniting that Christmas spirit.
Taking time out
Many of you will be looking forward to spending time with family and friends for the first time in weeks. If moments of tension do arise, take a breath, leave the room and take a moment for yourself. The turkey may be a bit late but it will be worth it if it gives you a chance to reignite that Christmas spark.
Time out is important for children too. When relatives and guests are present, children will be expected to be on best behaviour all day which puts them under a lot of pressure and can lead to moments of frustration.It is a good idea to let children have a bit of downtime to explore their new presents, on their own, in their rooms, to help them relax.
The true spirit of Christmas
The quality of your trimmings and your Christmas decorations will soon be forgotten. It is the silly family traditions and the time spent being present that create the best memories. The dreadful Christmas cracker jokes, the annual game of charades where granny always does the same one, the marathon game of Monopoly, these are the things that pull families together. So stop clearing up, switch off the WiFi and relax. Spend some time with the children, looking at their gifts, playing board games, and enjoy being truly in the moment.