Make a Plan – the holidays will be challenging. Take charge and together with your family – plan for this challenge. It is always easier to be proactive rather than reactive. Whatever you choose to plan – stick to it.
Have a Plan for Changes in Routine – Winter breaks from school can be difficult to manage if you don’t have a plan. Letting young children know what their days will look like will lessen their anxiety and can provide peace of mind. Whatever you choose to plan – stick to it.
Allow your feelings to be fluid – whether you feel like crying or laughing – give yourself (and family members) permission to feel what you are feeling. Know it is perfectly healthy to have fun and enjoy a good laugh!
Be Kind to Yourself – It’s completely normal to feel tired and/or not share in the holiday spirit around you. Remember that good food and light exercise can be extremely helpful in boosting physical health as well as your mood. Make sure to get enough sleep and carve out time for activities that bring you a sense of peace and calm.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out for Help – If the emotions this time of year brings add to feelings that are overwhelming for you or a loved one, don’t suffer in silence. Reaching out for support can lessen the burden and make this time of year more manageable. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, pick up the phone and call a friend or family member – or The Gathering Place. We are here to support you.
It is Ok to Say NO – People may have the best of intentions but if what you want/need is quiet and privacy, remember it is OK to advocate for you and your family by letting others know what is helpful and what isn’t.
Build New Traditions – If the change cancer has brought to your family makes continuing old traditions too difficult, think about building new ones. The most important thing is to have open communication with each other regarding what things are most important to everyone and how as a family unit you can make the holidays special and sacred for each other.
Parenting help with movies – As you may remember, Disney films and other leading companies often weave in the theme of death (Bambi, Cinderella, Snow White and even Frozen). The latest box office hit, Big Hero 6, is no different with it’s big loveable character Baymax. It is oftentimes helpful to have a clue what to expect from a movie, rather than being hit by a curve ball. A great website dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media & technology is www.commonsensemedia.org. This may also give you suggestions to not only movies but books, apps, games and more.
Holidays Can Bring Pleasant Distractions – Enjoy and capitalize on the things you do enjoy about this time of year, allowing you and your family to share what you are feeling thankful for what brings you joy!
Casey Durkin, LISW-S, is the Director of Children’s Programming at The Gathering Place. She has over 30 years of clinical social work experience. Most recently, Casey was director of a school based mental health program in a local public school system. To contact Casey email her at @email@example.com or call 216-455-1523.