Being a parent is never easy. But being a parent after the holidays is an extra tough challenge! How do you and your child survive this transition with your mental health intact? Read on…
Allow them to have some down-time
We rarely think of elementary or middle school as work, but in a sense, it is. Children are expected to perform daily, and just like us adults, they need to rest once they’re done. Don’t expect them to have an after-school activity (such as arts and sports) every single day. Let them rest, and allow them to be less than perfect. It’s their mental health that’s at stake, and when’s a better time to learn this than as a kid?
Find time to be together
This was easy during the holidays. But it gets less easy once the daily routine kicks in and everyone’s suddenly too busy. Make sure you still spend some quality time with your kids throughout the day; to talk, ask them about their day, tell them about yours, to play, read, or do sports together. Make family dinner a sacred tradition, or set aside some time to play board games in the evening. Do whatever is fun for both you and your child.
School might be the primary place they go to for education, but there’s no reason why you as a parent shouldn’t chime in – in a slightly different way. Take them to a science museum, technical museum, or even an art gallery every once in a while. Go to a children’s theatre play, musical, or even ballet (Nutcracker might still be playing somewhere!). Use your parental influence to instill a taste for art and beauty in your children, and they will thank you later.
Play with them
You might think they’re getting enough play-time with their peers, but playing with you is a whole other story. Again, use your intellect to teach them something through play – like playing Scrabble, brain teaser games, or anything else that trains their minds. You can also get them a Robo Wunderkind set and watch as they become familiar with coding and robotics through fun play!
Teach your kids independence
And experience less stress yourself. Show them how to make a to-do list, how to prioritize assignments, set up timers and reminders together, and show them that you trust them by leaving them to their own devices sometimes. Teach them how to negotiate with other kids using reasonable arguments, and how to express their opinion respectfully. Let them walk to school alone if it’s close by, and check on them less obsessively. Let them know about their good qualities, and how they can improve their bad ones.
Most importantly, tell them they can always come to you to talk if they need to. By allowing your child more (reasonable) freedom, you will have more time for yourself and a more content child on your hands. And isn’t that a dream!