Parents, are you planning for the holidays? Preparing your menus, sending out invites, making your gift lists, and checking them twice? Great! Planning is a great way to make sure that everything gets done this busy time of year. Please remember that you need to plan for your self-care and for the care of your children, though. These are vital areas that also need attention.
Children co-regulate off their parents. Parental stress can lead to less parental availability, which can lead to non-preferred behaviors from kids, especially from kids who come from hard places and see parental care as a scarce resource. Kids from hard places also have extra-sensitive nervous systems that are more apt to pick up on stress, and to act out on this stress. The more regulated parents are, the more regulated kids can be.
The holidays can bring with them a lot of stimulation: sights, sounds, sugar, and changes in routine just to name a few. Parents can help themselves by making sure they schedule self-care time to keep their own window of tolerance wide. They might also want to plan ahead to meet the needs of their children, for example by bringing noise-cancelling headphones for a child who gets overstimulated by noise, or by bringing some protein snacks to go with the sugar they know will be at a party. Additionally, parents may want to scaffold or dose care and attention so that kids feel secure and attached, even if there are additional demands on parents.
Planning for the events of the holidays is a great thing! Planning to care for the people of the holidays is also a gift. Parents, please do both!