Holiday hoopla: 6 ways to keep kids sane

For best results, stick to a routine

The excitement meter at my house is maxing out at 10 out of 10. The kids are out of school, ‘ole St. Nick is on his way, cookies and candies are being baked, and presents are being exchanged. For moms and dads, it’s hard to put the brakes on and enforce routines when so much fun fills the air. But experts recommend creating a pattern of normalcy.

Elizabeth Doyle, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Community Medical Group – Shepherdsville, urges parents to keep some semblance of a routine during the holiday break.

“Children respond well to routines. It provides them with a sense of security and helps them develop self-discipline,” Dr. Doyle said. “Having a routine in place can help eliminate power struggles between parents and their children, as well as help children take charge of their own activities. We are all creatures of habit and the more comfortable we are with our habits, the more confident we can be. This is especially true for children.”

Dr. Doyle, a mother of two, appreciates the fact that the struggle is real when it comes to hectic holidays, late night events and all the hustle and bustle.

Some recommendations for keeping yourself — and your kids — sane:

Don’t overschedule. If your family is too busy to sit down to dinner until 8 p.m., you may need to rethink your commitments. Not only does a change in schedule interfere with mealtimes and bedtimes, but it can cause grumpy kids, which leads to bad behavior.

Make exercise a must. It’s easy for adults to get into a rut around the holidays, and the same can happen with kids. Regular activities may be canceled or you may be spending more time in the car traveling from place to place. Kids need exercise time to not only get the energy out, but to de-stress. Need some ideas? Here are ways to get kids moving indoors.

Make time for downtime. With all of the excitement over gifts, toys, travel and relatives, kids can get overstimulated. When that happens, it can appear they’re ready for more, but in reality they need some rest. Give them some downtime with reading or coloring. Be sure to limit screen time, as too much can cause other issues.

Watch food intake. Sweet treats are all around, but too many can cause tummy troubles. They also can affect behavior.

“Remember that more sugar than usual can potentially make your child more hyper. This can impact their ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Consider curbing the extra sweet treats,” Dr. Doyle said.

Avoid electronics overload. Dr. Doyle recommends keeping time on tablets, smartphones and other electronic devices to a minimum, especially at nighttime.

Get back to normal. Don’t wait until the night before school starts to get back into a sleep routine. If you do, you’ll surely have a cranky kid. Days before, start moving that bedtime back 15 minutes a night until you’re back on track.