Returning to Routine After the Holiday Break

What to Do when Anxiety and Stress are Disrupting the Welcome Return to Routine

4 Ways to Get Back on Track

Holidays and vacation time from work and school can be an amazing time to spend together as a family. Maybe your past break included family and friends, special meals, traditions, and special outings.  Returning to regular life can feel simple after an amazing weekend. We often hear from parents that the weeks following a special holiday and school break are a challenging time as the family attempts to return to their regular routine. Families may experience overwhelm, anxiety, and stress. And after a great break, it can be frustrating for parents when children act out with temper tantrums, defiance, crying, whining, arguing, and more. 

Routines and Rituals Create Security and Stability

Children can act out after big events because it can feel disappointing after special times with family and friends. Returning to your regular routine and daily rituals create a sense of security and stability for children. Although they do not know it or understand it, children crave these routines. On regular days, children know what to expect and that knowledge keeps them feeling safe. Negative behaviors like tantrums, whining, and arguing, decrease when your child knows what to expect and is feeling safe and secure.

Four Ways to get Back on Track After the Holidays:

  1. Stick to the Regular Bedtime Routine. It can be tempting to let your children stay up late and enjoy more fun activities after the holidays are over. But over-indulging can worsen children’s behaviors and create more challenges for your family. Sticking to the regular bedtime enables your children to know what to expect next. Following through with your regular routine creates that sense of normalcy and helps your child to feel more secure.

  1. Plan a Post-Holiday Fun Family Activity. Make sure that in the days following a holiday you set aside some time to spend with your child. This might be like walking to the park or playing a family board game. The intention here is not to create more chaos but to show your child that the warm memories of spending family time together don’t stop just because the holiday is over.

  1. Be Consistent. As parents, we can be inconsistent with consequences, expectations, and discipline during the holidays. Parents want to enjoy the holidays too and with fun events happening and additional family and friends around, exceptions are made that would usually not be and consequences do not always happen like they normally would. Being consistent as you return to your regular routine shows your child what to expect and helps return to that sense of security.

  1. Allow your Child to Choose. Children love to feel as if they have a say in what is happening in their life. Allow them choices when that is an option. Options like choosing to start lunch now or in 10 minutes, picking the vegetable they would like to include in dinner, and picking the game for family night, will all help your child to feel empowered and in control. 

Grateful for Holidays AND Regular Daily Life

Returning to regular life might always come some stress and maybe even anxiety and depression, but it doesn’t need to be long term.  Focus on the valuable and positive aspects of your daily life and show your children that you can be grateful for both special holiday times and regular daily life. If extra support would be helpful, we would love to hear from you at RAFT. Our team of therapists loves to collaborate with families and parents, working with individuals and children to live your best life. Reach out to us today if we can help!

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