Between school vacations, parties, and travel, it is easy to let the daily structure slide, but children thrive on routine, so try to maintain some normalcy when it comes to meals, playtime, and sleep.
“Sleep is the main routine that families let go and a lot of behavioural problems are related to sleep deprivation. It’s tempting to think ‘Oh, it’s a holiday, let’s all relax and free-flow,’ but there are some children that just cannot free-flow. It only makes them anxious and miserable,” Anne Kemire ,40, pediatrician warns. With all that’s going on during the holidays, “children rack up a considerable amount of sleep debt.
We know that as little as a decrease in 20 minutes of sleep per night, for three to five days, is enough to affect kids’ cognition or their ability to learn,” She says.
Maintain structure by creating a schedule for the day and lay out what’s happening next. You can write it out and keep it on the fridge. “children, particularly those who are high- energy, love to have a schedule. They like to know what’s happening next,” Kemire says.
While the daily routine will be somewhat different over a holiday break, “the schedule needs to be predicable for kids. Know that the structure is what kids need to feel good,” she advises. Keeping some familiarity throughout the day can help children feel more balanced.
After months of consuming endless cakes, and sweets, get your children involved in creating and eating healthy dishes. Load up the fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables, look for snacks that are low in sugar and high in whole grains, vitamins, and minerals, and be sure to encourage your kids to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water—all of this can improve and boost moods.
Flip through a cookbook and make nutritious recipes together. And encourage movement: “Exercise helps to release endorphins, which are the best instant mood lifter that we have. It also helps children sleep better,” Kemire explains.
Children can often feel restless and edgy when their system is out of balance. “If you play hide-and-seek, or something physical that has a positive kind of adrenaline, you can often ward off some pretty bad tantrums,” she says. Getting back to healthy eating habits and physical activities can increase good feelings.