Sunday 24th December, 2006


Plan ahead for kids and the holidays

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Dr Karen Moore

Clinical child psychologist

If you are reading this, then you are one of the organised parents who has Christmas under control. Or else, you are leaving everything up to your spouse and restfully reading your Sunday paper while Christmas fever grips the rest of the household and everyone rushes about madly.

Christmas Eve! The biggest shopping day of the year, when roads and shops are in absolute chaos and everywhere is staying open until midnight because no one has managed to get shopping done on time. And at home, all the cleaning, painting, putting up curtains, cooking and fixing up has to be done — well before midnight, if you are a midnight mass household, hopefully before dawn if you are just trying to get through it all.How do you cope with all this and the children too? Well, you could try some of

the ideas below.

l Plan, plan, plan. Before school ends, have an idea of what the holidays will involve. Are you taking time off or is your spouse? Are you going to Tobago for a few days? If not, when are your shopping days, preparation days, cleaning days?

l What happens after Christmas? Remember, when you collapse or have to rush back out to work, the children will be full of energy and armed with lots of toys. Plus it’s their last week of vacation, so put some activities or outings together for them. Think beyond Boxing Day.

l Involve the children. Christmas means lots of food and children love food. So get them into the cooking and preparation. In our house, it was always my sister’s job to clean the oven and she took over the ham as soon as she was old enough. Gingerbread cookies with a cookie cutter are also good for hours of innocent amusement. Make sure you do some baking with bowls to be scraped out. Small people will spend ages happily scraping the bowl out, meaning it can be washed more easily. If you bake pies, let the children prick marks in the raw pastry with a fork for decoration. Keeping children in a kitchen is never hard, the food acts like a magnet.

l Don’t over-schedule. Little people get tired out going out all day every day. Do one big outing a day, which is probably all you can handle.

l Don’t take children when you have to do serious shopping, if at all possible. If you have to take them along, consider bringing another adult to help keep order. Try to get to the malls when they open, before the crowds become impossible. Don’t expect children to be able to just keep going without entertainment or food. This is where the other adult can take them to look at the toys or the mall Christmas entertainment while you get things done. Give food breaks every hour — maybe a snack or a drink, but keep them well fuelled. Try to give them some real food or healthy snacks.

Above all, enjoy! Merry Christmas!

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