Having Fun with Your Kids During the Holidays by Heather Lang-Heaven

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but it can also be a challenging moment for parents, providers, and the children in their care. It is very easy to become consumed with endless activities, extra tasks at home, and mismanaged schedules.

However, it is a season filled with teachable moments and important values. Reflect on what you want your children, or the children in your care, to learn. Talk with them about the good things adults feel during this time of year. As a parent or provider, are you excited about spending time together as a family? Do you feel joyful about delicious cooking, or giving a simple gift to tell a person they are special?

As a way to model care and generosity for children, try the following:
• Be aware of over-planning and resist the urge to completely book the calendar. Children need unstructured playtime to process and relax.
• Stick with regular routines as much as possible. Children thrive when they know what to expect and this is especially important when they sense adults rushing around them with additional plans.
• Keep regular bedtimes too! Just as adults are tired from the busy season, certainly the children are. Infants need 14-17 hours of sleep per day, toddlers need 10-14 hours, preschoolers need 11-13 hours, and school-age children need 9-11 hours.
• Be flexible and creative if their behavior becomes a little challenging. Children are probably feeling the stress and excitement of the holidays too. Allow extra outdoor time to get out those wiggles. Playing alongside with them will help burn off adult anxiety too!
• Talk with children and remind them they are loved and special. They are a big reason why holiday traditions are fun. It’s important to honor and celebrate them!
• If your family is in a position to do so, brainstorm with children how they can help give back to the community and donate to families in need. These are some local Bay Area resources to help get you started:
o https://www.accfb.org/helping-alameda-county-neighbors-holiday-season/
o https://www.foodpantries.org/ci/ca-alameda
o https://www.handsonbayarea.org/opportunity/a0a0e00000E03icAAB

From all of us at BANANAS, we wish you a joyous holiday season filled with love, laughter, good food, and the time to make long-lasting memories.