Cultivating Calm During the Holidays

by Diann Gano, M.Ed

Truth be told, I did not write today’s blog.

Written by past blogger Jen Asimow, this post dates back to December 2014. Although seven years have passed, Jen’s words still ring true and remain relevant.

Her classic post, Top 10 Ways to Keep Calm This Holiday Season, is a welcome and much-needed reminder that we can find and cultivate calm as we weather the storm of COVID variants, holiday parties, family interactions, travel schedules, cooking, housecleaning, holiday-gift shopping and the dreaded supply-chain disruptions that threaten to derail shipments of eagerly awaited holiday gifts.

We are the constants in the lives of young children and—like most things that pertain to early childhood—we need to keep in mind that “less is more.”

Keep it simple and cut the curriculum in half this month if necessary.

As educators, we know that this month is crazier than it needs to be. So be kind to yourself, your staff and your students. Many programs simplify life by celebrating the seasons and removing all of the “themed” expectations that are scheduled around the holidays.

So take a deep breath, resolve to take the road less traveled and read Jen’s post. With COVID adding an extra layer of stress this holiday season, you’ll be glad you did!

Top 10 Ways to Keep Calm This Holiday Season

by Jen Asimow

December 3, 2014

Unless you work in a faith-based program, the holiday season should be almost non-existent in your classroom. Some of the December holidays are rooted firmly in religious teachings and others are celebrated by specific cultures. None of them have a place in diverse and publicly funded programs.

That does not mean that we should ignore them altogether. Children will arrive each day with stories about the comings and goings of extended family members, hopes for expected gifts or reasons for missed school days. They may be exhausted, irritable, bleary-eyed or wrung-out. They may be overly excited or revved up. All of these emotions will require a steady hand and a caring ear.

This is the time of year when hopes are inflated and dashed, when tummies hurt from eating too much and when bedtimes are ignored and exhausted children still have to get up and get to school. So I have come up with my Top 10 List for Keeping it Calm this holiday season.

10.  Stick to your normal schedule. Avoid the temptation to have special celebrations. These can wait until the New Year.

9.  Keep the meals and the snacks the same as usual. Don’t accept special holiday treats. Children are getting plenty of junk at home around the holidays.

8.  Keep large group time to a minimum. There are increased expectations for children to sit and behave at this time of the year at grandma’s house, at church and at special parties. Don’t expect them to do this MORE at child care.

7.  Let the children play. They need this more at this time of the year, so let them play for as long as possible.

6.  No special projects. Stop insisting that the children engage in developmentally inappropriate art activities that result in some sort of “gift” for the family. Let them create art if they choose.

5.  Let the children talk about it. Some of your kids may want to talk about the exciting happenings at their homes. Let them talk, and then let them get back to playing.

4.  Find time for gross motor play. Even though the weather may be less than ideal, try to get outside as much as possible. Children need fresh air and they need to run around, now more than ever!

3.  Create an island of calm in your classroom. Play soft music. Lower the lights.         

2.  Don’t allow your own holiday madness to creep into your work. Let the workday work in your favor. Your classroom may be the only place where you feel calm and collected.

1. Manage everyone’s expectations. Tell the parents in advance that your program/classroom will be business as usual and that they can count on calm and consistency for their children. I guarantee that they will thank you!

%d bloggers like this: