December 22, 2023

A Calm Christmas: It Is Possible!

Christmas time can be magical for children, filled with excitement, joy, and a sense of wonder. However, it can also be a time of overwhelming emotions, disrupted routines, and sensory overload. As parents, it is important to have strategies in place to support our children through this period and help them navigate the often chaotic energy of the holidays.

One of the key challenges during the Christmas season is keeping our children’s nervous systems calm and regulated. With the hustle and bustle of shopping, parties, and family gatherings, it’s no wonder that children can become overstimulated and anxious. Here are a few strategies to help support your children through the Christmas period and keep their nervous systems calm:

Stick to a routine: While it can be tempting to throw our routines out the window during the holidays, our children actually thrive on structure and predictability. If we can try to maintain some semblance of a regular routine, especially when it comes to mealtimes and bedtimes, this can help provide a sense of stability and security for our children amidst all the chaos.

Create calm, sensory-friendly spaces: With all the sights, sounds, and smells of the holidays, it’s important to provide your children with a quiet, calm space where they can retreat and recharge when they feel overwhelmed. This could be a cosy corner with some soft blankets, toys and pillows to cuddle, a calming essential oil diffuser (lavender is perfect), or some soothing music. Encourage your children to take breaks in this space when they need to reset their nervous systems.

Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques: Teach your children some simple mindfulness and relaxation techniques to help them stay grounded and calm. This could be deep breathing exercises (eg. the ‘3-6 Breath’ – 3 counts in and 6 counts out, or ‘Belly Breathing’ – expanding the belly fully when breathing in), visualisation exercises (eg. imagining being in their favourite place, or an imaginary place that feels comforting for them), or simple yoga poses. Encourage them to use these techniques whenever they feel anxious or overstimulated.

Set boundaries and manage expectations: It’s easy for children to become overstimulated and exhausted during the holidays, especially when it comes to the excitement of presents and sugary treats. Help manage their expectations and set boundaries around gift-giving and indulging in festive treats. Encourage them to take breaks and practice gratitude (by modelling) for the things they already have.

Be present and empathetic: Finally, as parents, it’s important to be present and empathetic to our children’s emotions during the Christmas season. Take the time to really listen to their concerns and worries and validate their feelings. Offer comfort and reassurance when they feel overwhelmed, and remind them that it’s okay to take things slow and steady.

The Christmas season can be a wonderful time for families, but it can also be a challenging time for children. By practising these strategies and supporting your children through the holiday period, you can help them feel calm, secure, and able to enjoy the magic of Christmas fully.

We wish you all a very special Christmas (if this is a holiday that you celebrate) and a wonderful start to 2024.

With Gratitude

Danielle and the Calm Kids Team