It’s just under 4 weeks to go until the big day and no doubt this familiar phrase is already being repeated in homes with young children up and down the country! It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be stressful and full of unrealistic expectations. For many parents there is a strong desire to create magical experiences for their children and many will also feel a need to somehow recapture memories of their own childhood Christmases. So, how can we enjoy the festive season and not feel pressure to provide the “perfect” experience for our children? One of the most important things we can do is to keep ourselves in the present and consider our current circumstances. We need to consider what suits our children and wider family now, rather than trying to recreate a rose- tinted memory of how it was when we were little. Think about pacing the activities you do with your child in the pre- Christmas run up. No-one enjoys being over tired, rushed and overwhelmed by too much of everything!
It’s when we feel under pressure that the Father Christmas threat comes out! We are trying so hard that when our children misbehave, we feel angry and unappreciated and start to feel that they should be more grateful! Could it be that our expectations of ourselves and our children are unrealistic?! What do we mean by “be good” anyway? If we want our children to behave appropriately, it is more helpful to actually notice them when they are being good. Look out for the times when they are playing quietly, putting their coat away or being kind to their friends and make sure you praise it. It’s the most effective way of making sure you see the behaviour again. Just make sure that you are specific about what they have done well and they will probably repeat it!
Helping our children to know what is expected of them is an important way of shaping the behaviour we want to see. Giving a warning before a change of activity, setting some clear limits around expected behaviour and praising them for doing what we ask will help everyone to feel more in control. If we can relax our grip on how we think things should be, we might even find that new and more enjoyable experiences arrive with a bit of Christmas sparkle! It’sworth trying to take some time out for ourselves too. I know this can feel impossible, but may be by concentrating on what matters most to us will allow us to stop worrying about doing a prefect job. It really is OK to cut corners- your children will remember the fun and warmth far more than some of the minor details which we get overly concerned with. Have a wonderful time and enjoy creating new memories for your family during this festive season!