After the last present is opened, even with used wrapping paper piled up everywhere, it is common for preschoolers to become frustrated looking for more gifts. Although it took days to plan for the big holiday, the festivities seem to end quite suddenly. It can be hard transitioning from the excitement of Christmas to ordinary life. Here are a few suggestions to help make the shift easier for a preschooler.
Post a schedule of events for December and early January. Mark special occasions with pictures for appropriate days including Christmas Day – opening presents, Grandma coming to visit, family dinner with relatives. Each night talk about where the child will be the next day – preschool, daycare, or home. In the morning, remind the child of the day’s events. This is especially helpful for preschoolers three to five years. Admittedly this is a bit labor intensive to set up, but once you see how successful it can be, the time is worthwhile.
Maintain the napping and bedtime schedule as closely as possible. The predictability of naps and bedtime helps the child get the necessary rest so she/he can enjoy activities with the family. Skipping naps to fit in an adult event can cause the child to become overtired and then no one is having fun.
Plan activities where the child can run off some energy before a family event. Tobogganing, building a snowman, or playing with a friend in the park allow for social contact and a chance to burn off some energy in a positive way. Community centers tend to have special times over the holidays to go swimming or ice skating as a family.
Making “thank you” cards with crafts helps children learn to be appreciative. Also, this is a fun activity for care providers and children to do together. Decorating a “January” calendar highlighting a birthday party for a friend or family member helps the child look forward to upcoming events. In the quieter moments, take the time to read stories, play a board game or do a puzzle. The lull in the holiday is a good time to arrange the Thomas the Tank train set or doll house and spend time with your child pretending to be various characters.
After Christmas is a good time to participate in fun activities that you usually do not have time for, such as going to the aquarium, zoo, science center or winterized petting zoo. In some areas, a Christmas event continues until the New Year — for example, a Christmas train, heritage village and carousel. Check your community calendar for seasonal shows that might be appropriate for your preschooler such as Mary Poppins, The Nutcracker, or The Lion King.
Christmas holidays are lots of fun, but, like all good things, must come to an end. For preschoolers, talking about upcoming events and scheduling fun activities help the child transition back to the regular routine. Also, preschoolers are reassured to know that Santa will return again next year.