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With the start of the year, it seems that it should be just as easy as coming back from Christmas vacation and returning to the same return that we had just a week or two ago. Right?! Generally, not so much. Somehow, the combination of the “month of December,” the holiday “season” and that oh-so-special time of vacation completely free of routine, have a combined way of making the old routine seem like a distant memory. For many families, finding their swing again can be rather tough, especially coming after the letdown of holiday happiness to the doldrums of winter ahead. If you’ve experienced this before or fear it may be in your near future, here are some ways to transition smoothly into a happy new year.
First things First: Clear Out the Décor
While it seems fun to leave the tree and all the festive decorations up as long as possible, it can make the transition harder. Putting everything away and letting your kids start the New Year fresh with Christmas and the holiday season solidly behind them will help them focus on the future, not what they’re missing.
Carry Over the Merriment
Ask the kids what they enjoyed most about the month. Was it baking cookies? Ice skating parties? Late night Christmas movies in tents in the living rooms? Chances are that the “gifts” part of it won’t rank all that high, so pencil in time for the same sort of activities and events that created the best memories earlier and re-do them throughout the next couple months. Who says you can’t bake cookies in January or stay up late on a Friday night watching movies in February? Still having things to look forward to will reduce the letdown children tend to experience. Put activities on the calendar so the kids can visually see when the next “exciting” thing comes up. After the business of December, this will make January seem much less dull.
Find the Positives!
Most often, the return to school is seen as a drag and dreaded highly. (Who would really ever want to leave sleeping in and playing with toys and eating candy all day?) However, if you can find the positives about the return to school and help your kids see them clearly, you can take away the dread and sadness associated with going back. Have them make lists of what they missed when they weren’t in school and what they’re looking forward to again. Perhaps it’s seeing what their friends got for Christmas and sharing their own new toys/gadgets. It might just be seeing their friends again! Maybe it’s getting back in gym class or starting back to regular dance classes after school. Reminders of all the good perks coming just around the corner make a huge difference!
Make New “After-Christmas” Traditions
If your family doesn’t have any “after-Christmas” traditions, make this the year to start yours! Come up with a few fun things that you’ll do a week after, three weeks after, a day after, etc. Maybe every weekend after Christmas you take a box of goodies to an elderly home and help them beat the January blues too! Anytime we (kids & adults!) take the focus off of ourselves and what we’re dreading, to help someone else, the dread tends to vanish! Maybe you film a fun family home-video every January so that you can compile them all together 10 years down the road. The opportunities for January traditions are endless and can sometimes be almost as fun as Christmas.
Find Your Groove as Quickly as Possible
Many of us tend to take a laid back approach to hitting a routine again, thinking it will help us if we can break it in slowly. However, this generally leaves us feeling more lost and out of sorts/disjointed than before, especially the kids. As soon as possible, even a few days before the return to school happens, get back to the routine you had worked out earlier – your new “old” routine for this New Year. If there were issues with it (maybe bed time was a touch too early/too late, breakfast needed some extra wiggle room, etc.) start those right off the bat. Getting your kids back on their regular bedtimes and regular eating patterns a few days before school will help eliminate the tired-groggy-sad feelings that typically get associated with heading back to school suddenly and without structure back in place yet.
Finally, helping your children look forward to things far off in the distance can put December behind and the future front and center. Maybe it’s summer vacation or a birthday in February they can create a countdown for, whatever it is, remind them frequently that not all the fun is over, there’s simply a new year for new fun to be created!
Freelancer Jocelyn Anne writes full time for a heating & cooling appliance site, helping them write content for electric heaters for home use, but branches out into family topics whenever she gets the chance.