Five Parenting Tips for a Joyous COVID-19 Holiday Break

December 17, 2020

By Rebecca Holmes, CEI President and CEO

The two-week holiday school break just doesn’t seem as exciting in 2020 when you’ve been stuck home from school and work, together, for much of the year and advised not to travel. But despite the pandemic’s challenges, here are five parenting tips to ensure you, your kids and family use this break to recharge and renew, which is more important than ever this holiday season. 

Divide Break into Blocks

When it comes to vacation, two weeks can feel like an eternity to kids, and not nearly enough time for adults. Break the time into three- or four-day blocks and sit down as a family to decide how to schedule activities both fun and restorative. If your tween or teen is burned-out from school and needs to watch movies or play video games, permission to do that for a few days is far better than fighting over screen time the entire two-week break.

Fill the Void

Focus on the one thing you’ve each missed the most. The process here is more important than the outcome. Ask your kids ages eight and older. If it’s adventure, think “no bad weather, just bad clothing” and head out for a winter hike or scavenger hunt. For stress-free togetherness, find or create a new holiday tradition or make a little time each day for a game, puzzle, or movie. For siblings that need some time apart, split up so each child has some focused time doing something they love with a parent or grownup. By finding clarity – with yourself, your spouse, or your kids – about what 2020 has left you most wanting, you’re tapping into the sources of your frustration and designing a holiday to intentionally remedy those gaps.

Modify Traditions

Just because we may not be able to honor all our family holiday traditions doesn’t mean we have to give up and lose the magic of the season. Kids don’t need every part of a holiday to be the same. Ask what they most want to do again. My kids talk for weeks about our annual family gingerbread house party. But after Thanksgiving by Zoom, the party won’t be enough to make up for missing cousins and friends. So, to modify, each family is in charge of delivering two types of decorating candy to the other families with a riddle aimed at helping guess which family they’re from.

Set Time for Reflection

Kids have finished a school semester likely filled with twists, turns, and disruptions. Set aside some time for them to reflect on how it went and what they would like to change in January. Sports coaches prove all the time this kind of self-reflection is possible for teens and tweens. If your relationship with your kid has become combative over academics, for example, (and you aren’t alone) see if they’d rather do this with an aunt or other trusted family friend. A great way to reinforce this practice is to share with your kids an unproductive habit you’ve developed or something else you want to change in the new year.  Kids of all ages love to be accountability partners for their grownups.

Make New Memories

Don’t worry if you need to cut back your holiday spending. Kids rarely recall expensive gifts. Remember, it’s good times and joy that make the best holiday memories. Those are priceless!

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