In the book The Invisible Riptide, Stella talks about the emotional current of the world and learned that meant her brain can feel the emotions of those of those around her. She also learned that paying attention to what’s going on in her body helps her understand what feelings she’s experiencing. Using these concepts can help you and your family have a lower stress, more enjoyable holiday break!!! Download the full PDF here.
Happy holidays from
The Invisible Riptide Team!
- Create structure
- Take care of yourself
- Build in breaks
- Keep a sleep routine
- Find ways to get out energy
- Give choices and pick your battles
- Get curious about problem behaviors
- Be flexible
- Have fun
Create structure. Lack of structure during holiday breaks can sometimes be difficult. If kids know what to expect, you are less likely to hear repeatedly, “When are we…” or “I’m bored.”
● Make a bucket list of different activities (baking, family movie night, special camp out, etc.). Then figure out what’s doable. This encourages the development brainstorming, collaboration, and problem-solving. Plus, kids love to feel included!
● Post a daily schedule or give a preview the next day. Use a white board or pin to a bulletin board. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A visual gives kids a sense of both excitement and ability to know what’s going on without asking you a gazillion times.
Take care of yourself. If you’re anxious and stressed, your kids will feel it and often react to it. They’ll catch your riptide of emotion. By paying attention to your own needs, you’ll be more available to enjoy your time together.
● Model taking deep breaths between activities to slow the pace down and enjoy the moment.
● Write out ideas or a plan to ground yourself and ensure your expectations are realistic.
● Don’t forget to delegate when you can.
● Don’t sweat the small stuff. Perfection does is the destroyer of happiness.
Build in breaks for them and you!!! Holidays can be jam-packed, nonstop, on-the-go and may be filled with more people than we’ve been used to. Our social muscles haven’t had as much exercise during the pandemic, so we might fatigue more easily being around people and socializing more.
● Build in quiet or independent activity time.
● Consider creative, building activities or strategically-timed use of reading a book or watching a special show together.
Try to keep a normal sleep routine. Lack of sleep often makes kids (and adults) more anxious and irritable.
● At minimum, try to stick to bedtime routines, even if they are at different times. Kids love the familiar.
● If you’re going to be away, bring familiar items to help kids feel comfortable sleeping in new places. For example, bring a blanket, pillow, or even a sound machine if that’s something they typically use at night.
Find ways to let out energy. Kids are going to get excited and revved up. They need healthy outlets for that energy.
● Incorporate rhythm, movement, and exercise into every day.
● Even better if you can do something together, like take a walk, do a quick dance party, kick the soccer ball around.
● Coloring is a quiet, rhythmic activity.
Give choices and pick your battles. Children love feeling a sense of control and having choice. Is it situation a battle worth fighting or one that you can let go?
● Include your child in decision-making and offer choices where possible.
● Build in time to transition. We often like having time to wrap up an activity before switching to another task. Help find a stopping point and then enlist their cooperation in a task.
● Gain perspective. Sometimes we get stuck on what we want to happen, even if it’s likely fine if it doesn’t happen or happens in a different way or at a different time.
Get curious about “problem” behaviors. Behaviors are a form of communication. If your child is misbehaving or being disruptive, ask yourself what might they be trying to tell me? Maybe they are tired, hungry, overstimulated, needing attention or comfort, needing more time to transition between activities.
Connect to calm. When upset, emotions get in the way of logical thinking. Asking questions, giving advice, problem-solving, and even issuing consequences are not effective. If your child is emotional:
● First name the feeling and situation that you observe (i.e. validate and let your child feel like you understand).
● Get curious. Try to see the situation from their perspective.
● Give them space and time to calm or even sit with them IF you are calm. Remember it’s ok for parents to say, “I need to take a minute to calm myself so we can figure this out.”
Be flexible. One of the most important parts of the holidays is being flexible. Expect but not dread that some things may not go smoothly. Take a deep breath and be ready to pivot when you need to. Change isn’t necessarily bad, just different.