Monday, December 26, 2016

Overwhelmed by the Holidays?

Simple, Slow and Soothing
For the month of December, I have been delighting in the community of my eCourse Simple, Slow and Savory, a course with a wonderful group of mamas, grandmamas, teachers and childcare providers, exploring ways of slowing down and pursuing the simple life through the holidays.

I received a few please help me! emails this morning, from mamas who are not in the eCourse, asking for suggestions of what to do for the child who is overstimulated and overwhelmed from too much of Christmas, too many lights and sounds or too much of the unfamiliar. Holiday overwhelm can make anyone cranky.

Holidays, winter break, spring break and even summer vacation are all times when we tend to be out of whack with our rhythm and routines of daily life. Just as children thrive on rhythm and routine, children struggle when its absent. The good news is that the solution is simple, slow down, warm up and connect with your daily rhythm.

Here Goes
How to soothe the soul of a child who is suffering from too much stuff, being away from home, too little rhythm, an onslaught of lights and sounds?

1. Go simple. Simple, simple with my mantra - see below.

2. Stir in some warmth.

3. Protect from more stimulation.

The Mantra
My mantra for childhood is  Eat, Sleep, Play, Love ~ in the Fresh Air.

Lean into my mantra of Eat, Sleep, Play, Love ~ in the Fresh Air.  It works for adults too.
Eat wholesome food. Eat whole food as much as possible. Nutrients matter. The sweets that seem to creep in at the holidays need the wholesome food for balance. Drink plenty of water. (You too!) Keep your mealtimes, keep your mealtime routines, keep it all as consistent as you are able. Eat at the same time each day. Sit down and eat at the table together. If you have particular foods for particular days of the week, such as beans and rice Monday, oats on Tuesday, pizza on Friday, stick with that.  If you light a candle, do that. If you say a blessing, do that. Be consistent. Hold up the child's world as familiar and consistent.

Keep your child's bedtime and bedtime routines. It's easy to slip out of them at the holidays, especially when traveling. In addition to the value of good sleep and enough sleep, the comfort of the familiar is soothing. Keep your bedtime rituals. If your bedtime routine is bath, jammies, bed, story, prayer, keep the sequence in order. Keep it as consistent as possible.

Be sure to carve out time for free, self initiated play. Clear out the stuff and keep the play area simple. Honor your child's need for quiet self initiated play, with no narrative, no interruptions.

This is for moments of connection through out the day. It's easy to be distracted over the holidays when our home rhythm goes out of whack, or when we travel and are away from home. Take special care to spend time with your child each day. It may be snuggling up in a quiet spot for a story after lunch, or going outside for a walk together, or just taking your child's hand for a squeeze. As Gordon Neufeld reminds us, connect with the eyes, the smiles and the nods of the head.

Remember to make the connection first, with the loving eyes, the warm smile and the nod that says, "I'm with you." Then use the gentle re-direction with the royal we, "We do it like this," or with gentle guidance, "It's time for ____ come along." Let connection be the foundation.

~ in the fresh air
Nature soothes and heals. Spend some time out of doors everyday, filling the bird feeder, taking a walk in the woods, shoveling, checking on a neighbor, running in circles around the house, and looking up at the stars in the night sky.

Stir In
Stir in some warmth in the form of bubble baths, hot tea, hot cocoa, snuggle time, warm soup and fire: with a candle, out of doors, by the fireplace or wood stove, the element of fire is both warming and soothing.

For Next Year
Hindsight is everything. ;-) Consider creating a rhythm for the entire Christmas season, from Thanksgiving to Epiphany, that creates a spaciousness of time, and takes the expectation off the single day.

A Question for the Comments
What soothes your child (or you) when there's just too much going on?


Celebrate the Rhythm of Life through the Year :: 
Tending the Hearth
Harmonious Rhythms :: Conscious, Creative and Connected Parenting  :: Waldorf Homeschooling and Homemaking

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