Avoiding meltdowns in routines over Christmas
It's fine to shake things up over Christmas and cut your children a little slack – but where should you draw the line?
It's perhaps not a very fashionable point of view, since my children were babies, I’ve always felt a clear routine was important. When they were tiny and I was desperate for sleep I would turn to Gina Ford and everything would work out alright.
Even now they are six and eight, I have to admit we do still stick to some of the same routines, such as dinner, bath, bed, story – and it works well for us. The difference, though, now that they are bigger, is that now and again we can let the routines slip and the whole thing doesn’t necessarily go into meltdown.
Staying up late?
Over Christmas and New Year it is very easy to let routines slip, and to a degree of course this is part of the fun – after all, it is not every day you get to eat chocolate coins before you’ve had a sensible breakfast, or that you get to stay up until midnight to hear Big Ben’s chimes and see in the New Year.
The key to letting routines slide without things sinking into mayhem is moderation. If your children are anything like mine – one late night is fine as long as they get to bed early the next night – but two late nights in a row leaves me muttering “never again.”
Decide before Christmas what aspects of your routine you are happy to be flexible on what you want to stick to – and discuss it with your children. If you plan to let them stay up late on New Year’s Eve, perhaps tell them they will need to be in bed on time for the three preceding nights. Or if you don’t think your children can stay awake that long, perhaps try what my friend Joanna does and put them to bed as normal and wake them up for sweets and “champagne” (fizzy apple juice) just before midnight. Netmums also have some good ideas about how to see in the New Year with young children.
While it is almost unavoidable that your children will be eating more chocolate, cake and other goodies than usual, make a deal with them that they have to also eat some fruit and vegetables every day. Some children are more sensitive to changes in diet than others – my son often has tummy problems when normal meal times fall by the wayside unless we keep a close eye on what he eats. And while it is tempting to snuggle down for hours on end and watch all the great Christmas telly, insist that your children get outside at least once a day for some play and exercise even if it’s cold or snowing – not just for their health, but for everyone’s sanity.
Good luck and have fun... and remember to take it easy on yourself. You can only do your best.
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