4 Ways To Keep Your Kids From Being A Grinch This Holiday.

This time of year is magical for toddlers and young children. They get to help bake cookies, open presents, and go to holiday parties. All while spending quality time with their family. It’s hard to believe that with all that magic children can get stressed out. But the holidays really can be a strain on them. When children feel stress, it can make them act out or throw tantrums. A lot of your holiday activities probably depend on your kids being on their best behavior. Taking these steps to keeping your kids stress-free can help ensure everyone has a happy holiday.holiday tree and article title

1.Try to Maintain Their Sleep Schedule

Sticking to your child’s normal bedtime routine as much as possible is key to minimizing their stress levels. It’s tempting to let the kids stay up late during the holiday break, but you spent the school year getting them used to their routine for a reason. Kids function better when they get enough sleep and keeping their bedtime the same helps prevent sleep deprivation. Even adults struggle to relax when their sleep schedule is off. Keeping them on their regular sleep schedule will help prevent cranky attitudes and unnecessary stress. Adding too many holiday activities to their routine can exhaust them. Keeping their sleep schedule as normal as possible helps keep them from getting overwhelmed. Then they are more likely to enjoy themselves.

2.Don’t Over Scheduleblack pen on a planner

Speaking of fun activities, try not to overload their schedule. Just like you, your kids can get burnt out when they’ve got too much on their plate. Pick and choose which holiday parties and family gatherings to attend. Try giving them a day or so in between each event. This way, they can do something quiet at home to unwind. That way, they won’t become overwhelmed at the next event.

3.Keep Yourself Calm

Monkey see, Monkey do. Kids can feel the tension in the house when you are stressing. Set an example for them, you can’t help your kids stay calm if you’re not calm yourself. Allow yourself to get the sleep you need and make sure to set some time aside for yourself to take a break and regroup. By setting a calm environment you can help your children find their own calm and make it through the holidays stress-free. 

4.Stay Healthydinner plate of pork and vegetables

Holidays are full of sugary junk food. Unfortunately, with all of that sugar comes hyperactivity and difficulty sleeping. Making sure your kids get 3 normal meals a day with healthy options to offset some of that junk can help keep their mood balanced. You don’t want to deprive them of all the delicious snacks the holidays have to offer, so try to balance it instead! Lots of sugar can also cause dehydration so it’s important to add a little extra water into their diet as well. When their bodies feel healthy their minds will too, making it easier for them to remain stress free.

While keeping up with your to-do list and busy schedule remember that kids have big feelings too. They can experience the same emotions you do except they’re still learning how to identify those emotions. And sometimes those emotions show themselves as attitude or crankiness. If you keep them well rested, well fed, and schedule time to relax you will have nothing but wonderful memories with them.

Co-written by Brianna Hartnett

A Parent’s Guide to Getting Kids Moving (Even When They Hate Organized Sports)

For parents, fall is all about that back-to-school feeling. And for some, it’s also about getting back on those sidelines and cheering on their kiddos as they get back into whatever organized sport is their main jam. Organized sports are absolutely not every kid’s jam, though, and that’s 100% OK – no child should be forced into sports if they’re not feeling it. 

But, on the other hand, if your child isn’t into the whole organized sports thing, you might be worried that they’re not moving enough, especially as they get back to sitting at a desk all day and doing homework in the evening, on top of the other more sedentary activities they might be into. So what can you encourage your sports-averse child to do to get them moving their body, having fun, and building a healthy relationship with exercise? 

The Importance of Getting Kids Moving (in a Way They Like)

Like we said, organized sports just aren’t for every kid. There can be any number of reasons why yours doesn’t want to join it: they might feel too much pressure to be perfect for their coach or teammates, they might not enjoy the competitiveness, or they might just be too young to have the physical skills and grasp of the rules, making things not all that fun for them. In some cases, you can encourage them to work on getting better, or find a less competitive league, but sometimes you just know your kid, and know it’s not for them at this time.

2 young girls laughing outside

But that doesn’t mean that getting them moving isn’t important. They need at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, no matter how they get it, and it’s not just because, well, exercise is good for everyone. Movement has a whole host of benefits for little bodies and minds: according to clinical psychologist Kelly Theis, Ph.D., “Regular physical activity is proven to have tremendous benefits for children and teens. It activates natural endorphins that decrease stress and negative emotions, and it strengthens immunity. It develops persistence, frustration tolerance, and self-esteem.”

And not only that, but exercising now also benefits kids in the long-term. Getting them in the habit of moving today means they’re more likely to keep up that healthy habit when they become adults. According to Ryan Gadow, senior vice president of membership experience for The Y in Central Maryland, “Adults actually learn fitness from their activity base as a youth. If they haven’t engrained a sense of activity at a young age, it becomes harder as they become older to keep up with that fitness level.”

But the truth is, you’re not going to get anywhere with your kiddos if you’re pushing activities that they’re just not that into (ain’t that the truth!), so it’s important to find something they enjoy. That might mean offering them a list of activities to choose from (and once they choose, try to make sure that they follow through by completing a whole season or all of the lessons), or finding nontraditional ways to help them get their bodies moving.

Ideas for Getting Your Kiddos Moving

Make your house a fun house

You can set up hopscotch in the house and have fun together!

For the littlest ones who can’t be tempted to join in on a group activity for the time being, you can find some super fun ways to get their 60 minutes in, right in your house. For example, try:

  • Setting up a timed scavenger hunt (so they have to move quickly!)
  • Playing hopscotch in your hallway, or tag
  • Throwing a “freeze dance” party (or any kind of dance party!)
  • Creating an indoor obstacle course
  • Pulling out the ol’ hula hoops and jump ropes
  • Challenging them to a physical competition with you (How many jumping jacks/pushups/other activity can you do? Can you beat me in a race?)

Expand your idea of “sports”

So maybe your kiddo cringes at the thought of baseball, football, or soccer – but those traditional team sports aren’t the only “sports” out there! Introduce them to other ideas, like rock climbing, skateboarding, yoga, martial arts, horseback riding, or dance classes. Remember to listen to what they’re interested in, and be flexible about finding things outside of what’s offered at school, but also ask that they stick with what they’ve chosen for a reasonable amount of time. According to Gadow, “You should help guide them. Taste a variety of activities, and if a kid says, ‘I don’t like this,’ don’t be afraid to say, ‘OK, we’re done,’ and move on to something else. It shouldn’t feel like punishment.”

Encourage “lifelong” activities

As we’ve already pointed out, getting your kids moving is not just about keeping them healthy in the here and now: it’s about building healthy habits for the future. So why not introduce them to activities that they might want to keep up for their whole lives? These can include things that you do together as a family, like hiking, biking, and swimming.

Meet them where they are

For kids resistant to exercise, you might want to try meeting them where their interests are, and tying more physical activities to the things they love. For example, if you’ve got a teen who loves to be on the phone, try to get them to go for a walk or jog while talking. If you’ve got a real video game fiend, either try looking for video games that incorporate physical movement, or make “active breaks” a part of screen time. And you can even use screens to get in a workout: pick a fun one on YouTube and challenge your child to do it with you!

Find out-of-the-box classes/places to move

Got a quirky kiddo? They can get moving with all sorts of options previous generations didn’t have, like circus school, trampoline parks, and parkour lessons. 

Put them to work

kids with bags of leaves and a rake on the ground
You can have your kids do some fun chores like raking leaves!

Older kids/teens might be a little resistant to chores (but it’s important to get them to help out, anyway), but littler ones actually tend to love the idea of helping out – and things like raking leaves, washing walls, windows, and floors, shoveling snow, walking dogs, etc are actually all really good exercise! You might just need to sweeten the pot for your teenagers…

There might come a time when your child starts craving a group activity like an organized sport, and that would be great. After all, there are a lot of positive things about organized sports: they can boost kids’ self-esteem, coordination, and general fitness, and help them learn how to work with other kids and adults. But they’re certainly not a required part of childhood (don’t worry, your kiddos can get these benefits elsewhere!), and your child might never have a desire to join in. Again, that’s absolutely fine, but they still need to get moving, and you can help them to find what works for them – and don’t forget to join in yourself!