By Roli S
Holidays are here again and we know the routines that organise life will diminish over the next 45 days as bedtimes will grow later, and children will beg for attention and fun stuff. Most concerned parents will strive to make the holiday season a special time for their children.
“Humanity has always conquered the flux of natural time by means of a rhythm between active and passive time-spans. To reconquer his holidays, to establish a new and better time schedule for life, has been the great endeavour of man ever since the days of Noah.”
Thus, summer holidays bring lots of new opportunities to the lives of children and their parents as, in the pursuit to establish better schedules, parents and children plan a host of activities like visiting old and childhood friends, meeting grandparents, going to hill stations, going abroad, or getting trained in their areas of interest to enhance skill and knowledge, etc.
I experience the frenzy and exciement of parents when I get drowned with enquiries asking, “When are you starting your Creative Writing workshop?” “Why don’t you take the sessions before third week of May, as we have planned a hill station trip after that?” “Please, Roli miss, do not take sessions during weekend, as my child has to go attend Japanese language classes”.
And then I realise that one of the hurdles of parenthood is when holidays become measuring sticks against which most parents feel to be always falling short.
I think holidays create so much pressure because parents feel they should be having a fun time without compromising on the quality experiences that they should be providing to their children. It comes to the point that holidays weigh so heavily on parents that each holiday always ends up feeling like an exam to them! Disrupted schedules, traveling with family and children, the crash and burn from all the excitement — holidays can easily be a recipe for tears and tantrums.
I actuallybelieve that holidays are stressful for children as well, as children depend on parents not only to regulate their environment, but also to help them regulate their moods. If parents are anxious about everything they have to get done, then their children will almost certainly begin to reflect that mood.
Parents face holidays each year with varying degrees of stress. So many parents try to place the round peg of the irregularity of the holidays into the square hole of regularity. Each year, parents try and make the holidays work based on non-holiday patterns.
To paraphrase Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting different outcomes.” Based on that idea, parents become insane over every holiday. And, they drive their children crazy too – trying to make their children act as if no holiday uproar exists. Parents do this to try and reduce stress, but in the end increase tension without realising it. This happens because though the goals of parents are worthwhile, their methods are ineffective.
How do I then help all the moms and dads find joy in the holidays?
I suggest that when parents travel to spend the holidays, they should leave the “home” rules back at home. Let grandparents stay up late and talk to the children. Let aunts and uncles spoil children with candy and extra attention. What parents find inappropriate at home becomes “cute” to others that is why parents should find joy by leaving the rule book at home. Relax and allow the laughter and smiles from children become more important than keeping order.
There is no doubt that holidays push parents to be in two places at once. While schools hold holiday events, offices hold parties, etc., where children are not allowed, these time demands place parents in a position where they must pick and choose. I say if parents are flexible about how they prioritise their time during the holidays and do not look to please everybody all the time and, instead, let joy come with the flow, they are more likely to find happiness at the end of the day in the smiling faces of their families.
I have noticed that so many parents become overwhelmed in the chaos of the holidays, often asking their children, “What do you think you’re doing?” Children blow hot and cold to answer a question for which no real answer exists. I recommend that parents during he holidays must change the way they think about the business of holidays – Let “chaos” become “unstructured,” or let “out of control” become “child-like fun”. Parents win the stress war when their thoughts use happier words to describe holidays.
My advice is accept the reality of the holiday and also accept the variability of every moment. Replace routines with the joy of the unexpected. Try saying, “If I accept that holidays are not predictable, then I can live in the joy of each moment as it unfolds.” In simple words stay in the present.
Parenting during holidays requires embracing childhood enthusiasm. Holidays combine remembrance of landmark events with good cheer. Whether children are playing with spinning wooden tops or on their Play Stations, the joy of the holidays bursts forth from a child playing. Parents can find that same joy by throwing off the mundane routines of everyday life and, instead, live inside the smiles and laughter of each moment.
The best gift is found in each present moment. So, I appeal to all the parents that find the sweetness in this holiday season, embrace the endless love that surrounds you.
Wishing you a holiday season filled with joy and delight. The holiday season is about love! Share it. Spread it. Live it. Do not stress it!
(Roli S is an Educator, Author, Teacher Trainer and School Reviewer based in Mumbai)