The holidays are here! Holidays are both an exciting and stressful time. With so many activities and distractions that grab our focus, we wanted to narrow in on some of the top child care provider holiday tips.
Time-off Planning: If you don’t already know your provider’s vacation time/holiday policy and schedule, make sure you take time to get familiar with it. If you have time off of work planned for the holidays, your provider may or may not allow credits toward your monthly child care bill. In addition, your provider may be closed certain days that may not align with your employer’s schedule, so make your back-up plans now. If you have kiddos in the public school system, pull up their calendar to review the school closure dates. A little bit of preparation and learning what your child care resources are now will keep you from getting caught off guard later.
Don’t forget to coordinate plans with your provider so they can make sure to have the appropriate number of teachers available during the days they are open. There are strict requirements for teach/child ratios and if the center doesn’t think your child will be attending certain days, they may not be able to accept any last minute changes. Their appreciation will be more than you’ll ever know.
So. Many. Toys: Toys probably rule your child’s life. Are your closets already overflowing with toys? Wondering how you’re going to make room for more? Get your kids involved with clearing out closets to make room for this year’s loot. Is your child a natural hoarder? Set a limit on the number of toys they can keep. Separate out toys they no longer play with or are broken. Those that are broken, teach them the proper way to dispose (recycle versus garbage). Recycling toys may take a bit of effort, but is worth it. In some cases you may need to break toys apart into different types of materials. This can also be fun for kids to get involved with (everyone loves demo day!) and a great opportunity to teach them why recycling is important. Check with your local recycling center or research Earth911 which allows you to find places to recycle all types of goods in your local area.
Toys that are in good working order and gently used can be donated to local charities. If you can, take your kids shopping to have them pick out a new toy to donate to a local charity as well. Donating toys is a great way to teach your young children the gift of giving and open up conversations about families in need. Some charities to check out include: Father Joe’s Village, Passion 4 K.I.D.S., and Salvation Army. You can also check with your local preschool or church charity. There’s no shortage of ways to make use of those new or gently used toys.
So how about new toys received during the holidays? Our recommendation is to come up with a set number of new toys your child can play with for the next month and put the rest away and out of sight. At the end of the month switch them out. This does a few things; it helps prevent kids from getting overwhelmed with toys (usually leading to new purchases going unused) and keeps the excitement of the holidays rolling for the next few months as they get a fresh stash at set intervals. Try creating a calendar countdown to the next toy swap date. Let your kids cross off each day until the switch happens.
Learn About Other Cultures: Help educate your kids on different holiday beliefs and traditions. Not everyone celebrates the same holidays and as much as we love our own, it can be fascinating to learn about other holiday traditions. Something fun to do in the evening together is to research different holiday traditions with your kids. Set aside 10-15 minutes a few nights a week with the specific purpose of researching holiday traditions that are different than your own. Spend that time talking about what you find together and help your child understand and respect different beliefs. Another fun idea is to look up traditional holiday dishes for different cultures, and prepare them together.
Here are a few holidays to get your research started: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hannukah, Three Kings Day, St. Nicholas Day, and Rohatsu. While researching other traditions, don’t forget to include a discussion about your own. As adults, we get caught up in making the holiday a success and forget to help our kids understand the roots of our own traditions.
So. Many. Emotions: Have you heard with extreme highs come extreme lows? Back-to-back holidays keep the excitement rolling in your household that build until a sudden drop-off at the end. That can be hard for kids to process. Start talking to your kids about what to expect after the holidays – not just once, but several times. Keep the conversation positive and remind them that the holidays come back every year.
Taking some time off for the holidays? Practice certain routines while kids are out of school that provide a sense of normalcy. Keep the same bedtime each night so body clocks don’t get out of whack. If kids stay up later when out of school there’s usually a period of readjustment when returning to a child care program/school that can be slightly painful for everyone involved. Include some time for learning, which can and should include some outdoor time discovering nature. Early learning also includes having them help you in the kitchen. Schedule some time with them to bake cookies or holiday treats. They’ll be rewarded with tasty treats and some new kitchen skills!
Take Some of the Pressure Off: The holidays are an exciting and stressful time – not just for you parents, but your kids too! We tend to put an emphasis on how our children’s behavior is getting extra attention during the holidays. I’m not here to knock the elf off the shelf, but we make our kids feel like their troubles are being watched by a broader audience during the holidays (little elves, big guy in a red suit, Krampus, etc). If they get into trouble, the pressure is on! Let’s face it. Kids are kids. They push boundaries, which is how they know what’s acceptable and what’s not. Their brains are still developing and impulse control is all over the place. They’re going to blow it, eventually. Our recommendation? Keep your traditions and take some of the pressure off. Move in the opposite direction and let your kids know all of their good deeds are being noticed. That ever-watching elf is hanging around to make sure their efforts are rewarded. Everyone wants to shine when they feel like their efforts are noticed!
We hope you found some of the tips here helpful. Feel free to drop a comment below on your favorite holiday, tradition, or tip on keeping your sanity during the holiday months. Regardless, on behalf of everyone at Jump Start Finance and our care center partners, we wish you the happiest of holidays.
We're not just a team of seasoned finance experts, we're also working parents that love our careers and our kids. We're proud to provide a program that gives parents more options for providing the quality care their family deserves.