Holidays like Easter and Christmas can be an amazing time to spend together as a family. In addition to spending time with family, there’s also the fun you have with friends, special meals, traditions, and special outings, etc. But Returning to regular life can be difficult after an amazing weekend. As a child and family counselor, I often hear from parents that the days following holidays are challenging time as the family attempts to return to their regular routine. It’s frustrating because after a great weekend, children often 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 feels disappointing for them when special times with family and friends have to end. But returning to your regular routine and daily rituals create a sense of security and stability for children that can help them get over their disappointment and get them back into normal routines.. 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. And negative behaviors like tantrums, whining, and arguing, usually decrease when your child knows what to expect and is feeling safe and secure.
So to help your child get back to the regular after-holiday routine, here are four ways to get everyone back on track after the holidays:
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.
2) 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.
3) 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 by going back to old rules and enforcing them as you return to your regular routine shows your child what to expect and helps them return to that sense of security.
4) 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.
Returning to regular life might always come with some unpleasant feelings but doesn’t have to be completely distressing. 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.
Amanda Regalia, M.A. is a marriage and family counselor and clinician for The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. Amanda specializes in working with families and children ages 5 and up. She is passionate about helping people to create practical solutions that support them in achieving their goals and improving their relationships and life