The holiday break looks different for every family. Some families fill every moment with adventure by going skiing, traveling, or visiting loved ones, while others take time to wind down and relax. Whether your student had a productive, hobby-filled break or spent way too much time on their screens, getting them back into the school grind can be a daunting task.
Lena McCain, Founder and Clinical Director of Interfaith Bridge Counseling, PPLC shares, “No matter what age you are, whether you’re a young kid or 18, or even as an adult, we all fall out of our routines in the holiday season.”
Maybe you’re excited about the new year, or the resolutions are already weighing you down, whichever situation you’re in, here are some tips to making the transition after the holidays a little bit easier.
1. A Day to Decompress
For adults and kids, holiday breaks are important because people get to unwind, take a step back from work, and reset. Most of the holiday season is also packed with visiting friends and family, cooking eccentric dishes, and attending classic Christmas events around town. What comes with all this fun is routines and norms are disrupted, and social batteries are drained.
“Everything’s chaotic [during breaks]. And then we’re supposed to just go back into our norm, but that’s not how the nervous system works. The nervous system needs some downtime,” McCain explains. “Make sure when you’re planning your holiday season that you at least add in one or two days at the end of the whole rush to take a few deep breaths and just hang out at home.”
If you’ve been cooking for the holidays–take a break! Order in, relax, maybe even watch a movie with the family, and just decompress.
2. Ease Back In
It’s important to ease your child back into their routine before school starts up again. Children can struggle with going back to school if they’ve completely broken their routine over a break and then, the night before their first day, are thrown right back in.
“Before we start implementing the full routine again, we want to take time to decide what is really the priority of the routine,” McCain says. “Usually, the most important one is getting back on a normal sleep schedule.”
Have your child go to bed and wake up 15 minutes early so they can slowly start getting back to their regular schedule. Once the family begins feeling more comfortable with the sleep piece of the routine, add in an additional part, like getting dressed for the day before noon.
3. Model the Change
If your child seems to be struggling to get back into the groove, model the routine for them.
“I’m a big advocate for parents not asking or demanding their kids to do anything we aren’t willing to do ourselves. If you want them to start changing their routine…you need to also be ready to get back into that norm, “ McCain explains.
4. Patience is Key
If you follow the three tips above, and your child is still struggling, breathe and find patience.
“We can do all these steps, and it’s still not going to go as perfectly as we hoped it would. We have to remind ourselves and everyone in our family to be patient with one another, and then also be really patient with that internal voice in our head,” McCain says. “Things will be back in the groove within a week or two.”
The holiday season is stressful for parents, from buying gifts to finding a babysitter or working from home with the kiddos who are now off school. Check off the transition back to school by planning ahead of time and being patient.