Major holidays are a wonderful respite and in this household are marked by visits from out-of-town family and gatherings with nearby friends. The corresponding school break means no need for the kids to rise early and their activities are largely on hold. So speaking plainly, all routine and schedule goes straight to hell. And this is always followed by the need to get them back on schedule and when we haven’t handled it well, the resulting attitudes and behaviors from the disrupted sleep schedule and routine have been unpleasant. Face it, we all need our sleep and kids need it even more than the adults.
The return to a typical schedule is easier this year since the large majority of schools are returning on a Monday after a Thursday (New Years) holiday. This provides an opportunity to ease the transition to routine by working it in over several extra days. In other years, the New Year’s Eve event is followed next day by a standard bedtime the next evening with school the following morning. Since the kids are more revved than a ’70 GTO, this typically leads to cranky and befuddled mornings that take several days to remedy.
In the PracticalDad household, the long weekend after the holiday permits us to:
- Review backpacks (for younger kids) for any work that needs completed before Monday’s return;
- Start a general clean-up of the house so that the household isn’t still a wreck for days afterwards;
- Return to the general chores that each child has to do, including making beds and picking up toys that were left while everyone was caught up in the melee;
- Return to the academic drills that were put aside for the holidays, which might include mandatory reading times, spelling lists and various kinds of math drills;
- Return to the music practices that were put aside;
- Work our way back into a normal sleep schedule with the difference between standard and holiday bedtimes shortened each evening so that the night before school is akin to a regular bedtime and Little Johnny doesn’t spend hours in bed staring at the ceiling;
- Work our way back to standard wake-up times so that the child is hopefully back in the swing of arising at the required time.
Bear in mind that with older kids, it’s helpful to look at schoolwork before the break begins since they’re at a level that might require even more work over the holidays than can safely be done in two or three days.
While parents see a return to normality as positive and kids really do thrive with routine and structure, they love chaos and most are anarchists at heart. So be ready for squawking and whining and some unpleasantries in the household over these several days. Still take the time to play the Christmas gift games and enjoy the little time left, but this effort will make the return to routine more manageable and much less stressful.