Christmas Break Struggles

I truly do love when my kids are on break from school. I dread the day when summer break ends and I know that they are going to be gone for full school days. But winter break is somewhat different than the other breaks they have throughout the year. The weekends leading up to Christmas Break are always filled. Thanksgiving, Christmas parties, cookie baking, seeing Santa and Christmas lights; a constant string of fun all in a row. Damion starts to build this expectation that no-school days are always jam-packed with parties or events because that is what he has gotten used to, which makes for some hard days when things inevitably calm down during the time home. School is out, so now everyday feels like it should be a busy weekend day to him. What can I say? This kid likes to be on-the-go and even more so, he now expects it. Being on-the-go now feels routine to him. Even just reverting back to normal everyday life will feel like a big change to his routine. So, what can I do to help transition back?

  1. Have at least one fun thing on our agenda

I know it is hard. Times like this can be hectic, believe me, I know. But I can almost promise you that my day is always smoother when Damion has something to look forward to. I aim for the “fun thing” to be later in the day so we don’t have a lot of dead time after, which can cause more problems. This “fun thing” does not always have to be a big item either. Maybe I tell him that he will get to watch his favorite movie, or play a game that he wants to play. Many times, for us, we arrange for a grandparent to stop by and hang out for a bit, which is always a preferred activity for my kiddos. Even small preferred activities can make a big difference. 

  1. Picture Schedule

We have gotten to the point where his picture schedule or as Damion calls it his “list” is just created everyday by me on the computer. I have a desktop at home with a printer, which definitely comes in handy for things like this. Doing it this way I have access to any picture I would need and then I copy and paste it into a word document and print it for him to have for the day. Damion does much better with understanding the break-down of the day if he can “see it”. Sometimes this helps get us through the “boring” parts of the day when he can visually see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The only tricky part with this is knowing ahead of time exactly how your day will be filled which some days is easier for us to know than others.

  1. Prepare for some rocky parts

Even with everything planned out, there are still days that will just be rough for us. Changes almost always equals some kind of meltdown still. I know that going in. All I can do knowing this ahead of time, is try to get myself in a good mindset to handle it. Staying calm during his rough patches is the best thing I can do (sometimes easier said than done). Frustration and yelling just escalate things for him.  There are lots of time-outs and we go through our rundown of calming strategies until hopefully we find one that works. Sometimes when days like this feel never-ending, it can be good to ask for help if that is an option too.

I know there will be some days that we struggle with the return back to the mundane. My hope is just to minimize that time as best I can. He is out of his routine and there is only so much I can do to stop the reality of that for him. It takes us weeks to set up a good groove at home for the summer, so with only a week and a half off at winter break, we may just be getting the hang of things right when it is time for the kids to head back to school. Helping him understand his day ahead and allowing some time for at least one preferred activity can go a long way. It can be the difference in helping us turn a potential week of meltdowns on our down days into some days with fun and just a few anticipated hiccups along the way.