How important is it to try to maintain a schedule during the holidays?-Anonymous
An alternative version of this question was “How do we prevent pandemonium during the holidays?” Two sides of the same coin. For those of us with school-age children, whose lives are inherently very structured by school and work, the weeks around Christmas and New Year’s can be a lot.
Is it cool to just let our kids sleep late, eat whenever, watch television, and play video games for the entire day? Or is that going to leave them with a weird post-holiday hangover or generate fighting?
What I say — and you can always take or leave my advice — is that the important thing isn’t whether to have a schedule or not but to be deliberate about your choice. One of the central messages in The Family Firm is that whatever our choices are, we can be happier with them if we have made them on purpose.
In this vein: I would take a little time this week or next and sit down (alone, or with your partner if you have one, and maybe with the kids) and brainstorm what the holiday weeks will look like. Maybe you want it to be a free-for-all. Maybe you want some free-for-all time but one scheduled family activity each day. Maybe you actually want to maintain a pretty normal schedule, with just a few treats sprinkled in. I don’t know! But if you make the choice deliberately, you’re likely to avoid conflict later when, for example, a kid is whining about wanting more TV and you have a feeling it’s enough but haven’t really drawn any guidelines.
One note: sleep is important for kids. It’s important for school, but also for their behavior and general emotional regulation. It’s hard not to let things slip a bit during the holidays, but this is one thing that makes sense to keep on-schedule.