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by Tom and Julie Meekins

Are you feeling a little nervous about the upcoming holidays?
Are you worried how your child will react to a change of routine or unfamiliar foods?
Is there concern for what Gramma or Aunt Millie or Cousin Jeremy is expecting from your family?
Do you feel overwhelmed just thinking about all the preparations?

Well, we are here to give you permission to take charge.
Consider these 4 Tips to Guard your Holidays so that you can survive with your health and sanity in check.

Guard the Schedule

Be careful about overextending yourself and your underlings. Keep things as simple as you can and still add in traditions that will make precious memories for the future. Pick and choose carefully what activities you will say "yes" to. Keep assessing. Evaluate all throughout. Continually ask yourself: Are the children getting cranky? Is it possible we are doing too much?  It is okay to withdraw from an activity if your children need you to do so.  Your children are depending on you to keep their world a safe and sane place.

There will most likely be deviations from the normal schedule during the holidays. Here are a few ideas to help prepare the children:
1) Visual Chart: You may want to create a simple routine chart of upcoming events or just the normal day to day things they can count on so the children have a stability factor.
2) Audio Recording: This may be a great time to create a short audio clip of some things you are expecting to happen to give your children some idea of what is to come.

Here are some helpful components to the recording:
--It is in the child’s perspective. So, it will be in first person.
--It gives information you want your child to have regarding upcoming events or what you want from them.
--It helps them to know what they can do when they are feeling stressed, or overly active, or board (or whatever is a struggle particular to your child).

For daytime listening, we suggest the recording be no more than 3 to 5 minutes long. It can be played several times during the day but short three to five minute stints work better.

For nighttime listening (while they are asleep) you can make the recording as long as you like. The important thing is that the recording be positive and uplifting.

A simple example may be something like this:
"On Thanksgiving Day we will be going to Gramma's house. There will be many people at Gramma's house. Along with the other kids, I will be sitting at a table with my cousins and all the other kids. Mom and Dad will be sitting at the "grown up" table. I will sit calmly and eat my dinner at the kids' table. When I need something, I will calmly go to Mom or Dad at the grown ups' table and whisper my question to one of them. Before dinner there will be people all around and there may be extra noise. I can go to (whatever quieter place available in the home -- or maybe out to the car with a parent) when I need to be in a quiet place for a few minutes. Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. I have lots of things to be thankful for". You get the idea. Make the recording very specific to the child to whom you are communicating. Teachers, you can create one for your students to listen to in the classroom or recommend this tool to the parents of your students for home.

3) Social Story in writing. Consider preparing a social story to communicate holiday information to a child who would be blessed by this method of keeping them in the know.

For some children using all three of these tools will be helpful in keeping them calm through the holidays.

Guard your Health

This is the time of year when some of our efforts for eating healthy may get pushed aside. We definitely believe that there is room for special treats. We do caution you to keep assessing the amount of "convenience foods", "special treats", and "fast foods" you allow into your body and the bodies of your children. Planning ahead is always a good idea.

Some ideas:
--Take the time now to sit down and make a meal and snack plan.

Plan to choose easy-to-prepare healthy meals during the holidays. It is okay to have simple meals: A baked potato with some healthy fixings. Soups are awesome this time of year. Simple casseroles with wholesome ingredient. Fruits and yogurt. Green smoothies. Veggies and hummus (one of my favorite snacks is carrots and hummus). Spaghetti (add small bits of kale to the sauce). Remember to read your labels and don't buy those products with high fructose corn syrup, food dyes, preservatives, and hydrogenated oils.

Keep your immune system healthy. If you do not regularly take vitamin C -- now would be a good time to start fortifying the body. Watch the ingredients of even the vitamins you take and give your children. We shared a story in our Melt the Meltdowns Class about popular gummy vitamins for children. A mom contacted us desperate for help with her three year old son. She said that he has been going crazy. Her words were, "I want my son back." She thought back about what had changed since this difficult behavior came about. She realized she had started giving him gummy vitamins. When she stopped, her son had an almost immediate reaction. He calmed down and became the loving, sweet kid she had before the vitamins. So, of course, we did some research. We were appalled to find out that a popular brand of kids gummy vitamins on the market today contained tons of sugar, artificial flavors, hydrogenated soybean oil, aspartame, three different food dyes: blue #2, Red #40, and Yellow #6. Can you believe it? Your children need you mom and dad. Keep that nastiness away from your children's vulnerable and growing bodies. Teachers, you may gently be able to share these facts with the parents of your students.

How else can we keep the immune system healthy?

Drink lots of water - Did you know that dehydration not only makes you feel depleted but also causes illness?

Get adequate rest - We will talk more about that when we share about Guarding your Restime.

Exercise - It doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive. Just make sure to move your body and give your children sufficient time to get exercise as well. Amy and Julie do "dance breaks" throughout the day. They sometimes put on a peppy song from one of our CDs and just march and skip and dance and move until the song is over. Moving the body is so important for good health and for good moods. If you feel yourself or your children getting irritable it could be rest is needed but it could also mean that you need to MOVE!

Breathe - Sometimes we forget to breathe. Catch yourself during the day and several times purposefully inhale deeply, hold a bit, and exhale.

Consider if you are deficient in any particular vitamin. Kids who have allergies and asthma often need magnesium. Almost all of us need to supplement Vitamin D. Just things to consider.

Lemon water - Your children may not appreciate this but drinking lemon water will contribute to bringing a more alkaline ph to the body. Most of the foods and drinks we consume in our society are highly acidic. Lemon water helps to bring the ph balance back.

Keep things on hand in case illness does enter your body. A few things we suggest:

good broth - we keep a stock of organic chicken broth from Trader Joes or Wholefoods on hand in case we don't have any homemade broth available.

Quercitin is a good immune booster.

Lots of Vitamin C. Be careful that your Vitamin C source is not also filled with lots of sugar. Sometimes we think that orange juice is all we need but there is a ton of sugar in orange juice.

Essential oils - We like the oils from Heritage Essential Oils.

Peroxidizer - When there is illness in your home, you really want to nip it in the bud to get the sick person well quicker and to hopefully avoid the other folks in the house getting it. We love the peroxidizer. You'll need a cool mist vaporizer, 3 bottles of hydrogen peroxide and add 5 bottles of water. Pour the peroxide and water into the vaporizer. Run it next to the sick person or anywhere you want in the house. Bugs cannot live in an oxygen environment.

raw local honey - there are medicinal properties in raw honey -- but not for children until one year of age.

Probiotics - consider getting a good probiotic for both you and your children to help to restore and keep the gut healthy.

If you keep on hand the broth, Quercetin, extra Vitamin C, Essential Oils, Peroxide and a cool mist vaporizer and honey, and maybe even probiotics -- you will be equipped when the bugs dare to enter.

Guard your Expectations

You may have all kinds of lofty ideas of how to make the holidays special and memorable for your family or your classroom. In order to not be disappointed and to keep a positive relationship with the children, keep your expectations realistic. We already talked about Guarding the Schedule. Keep in mind the transitions and out-of-routine events and what they do to the children. We have already encouraged you to keep things as simple as possible. Often unmet expectations create stress, impatience, unkindness and broken relationships.

Expectations regarding projects:  Are you considering doing craft projects with your children this year?  Julie used to love to hang out at craft stores searching for handmade gift projects for the kids to give to family and friends. While they were a lot of fun most of the time, occasionally the children would stress out by the pressure put on them to "do a good job for Gramma" or "get it done a little more quickly" when they were more into the "process" than the end product. Sometimes we can go a little overboard with the amount of projects with crafts and expectations of the finished product.

Are you putting a great deal of pressure on yourself to create beautiful works of art as Holiday gifts or spending waay too much time in the stores looking for the "perfect" gift. Realize that you have a lot on your plate. Consider if you need to scale back your expectations to gift awesomeness for the Holidays this year.

Side note: Julie found a cool link where you can get printable coupons and bookmarks for your kids to give as gifts.

Expectations regarding decorating: Have you decided to decorate your home or your classroom so that it is award winning ready? This may not be the time to go for the "magazine display" Or are you adding just enough decorations to bring joy and create sweet memories for you and your family and your students?

Expectations regarding baking: How is your baking list? Realistic? Do you need to consider scaling it back? Have you factored in cleaning up time and reserved energy for the other tasks on the list? Have you thought about how your children are doing at the time you plan to bake?

Expectations regarding activities: How many outings are you committing to? Are you planning to carol with friends? Are there parties related to your children's school or sports or clubs? Do you plan to visit "lights" displays or special choir events or "holiday maddness shopping events". Don't let all commitments and their exhausting expectations sneak up on you. It is better to commit to a few and really enjoy them than to overcrowd the schedule and dread them.

Expectations regarding entertaining: Are you having folks over? Do you have a plan for communicating to your children what you want them to be doing or not doing? Charts and audio recordings and social stories can help here. Are you being realistic with your menu plan?

Guard your Rest Time

We saved the rest time emphasis for last because often it gets overlooked and we want the consideration of this one to linger in your mind.

If you adequately Guard your Schedule and Expectations, there will be time for adequate rest. Rest is such a critical part of keeping healthy and getting back to health if you are sick. Schedule in downtime for both you and your children. As much as you can be home for the toddlers and infants naps, make a commitment to do so. Create extra rest times for you and your children in the midst of the busyness. We encourage you to get yourself to bed at a reasonable time. We give you permission to take a nap while your children are resting.

We encourage you to do whatever you can to

Guard Your

  • Schedule
  • Health
  • Expectations
  • Rest time

Sometimes it is during the holidays that we realize the children in our lives may need a little extra help in their development and that you may need some support as you parent and/or teach them. Remember, we always want you to know that you are invited to a complimentary Get Acquainted Call to discuss your concerns and to let you know what we have in place to help. Contact us today to schedule your call.

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