When “mini”-relatives come to your home over the holidays, strive to be safe and flexible. Don’t make a scene if fancy dinners, new dresses or tight hugs are rejected.
Advice in Parent to Parent five years ago continues to be appropriate now: The push and pull of who goes where and how long they stay – too short, too long – can push loved ones away. Go for a forgiving approach: Leave your gripes at the door, wherever you land.
You want your guests to head back home with happy stories to remember and pass along, without guilt and regrets.
“Let bygones be bygones and enjoy family now,” wrote a teacher in Providence, R.I. “Take lots of pictures or videos to share. Just enjoy each other now and don’t take life for granted. The only time that we know we have together is this very moment, so live it well.”
Here are some more tips for decreasing holiday stress.
When thinking of gifts for grandkids, there’s no need to break your budget. Get suggestions from parents, and avoid competing with them regarding gifts.
Instead of just buying toys, small traditions such as ringing a dinner bell, making pancakes for breakfast or baking cookies together can be great ways to create fond memories.
A school counselor and family therapist suggests: “Go back to basics. Recall your own childhood: What toys do you remember playing with the most? What stories do you remember about playing with those toys? I remember transforming a refrigerator box into a castle, decorating it and then playing in it for many hours.”
Going back to basics also can include taking the time to read children’s books with your grandkids, such as “he Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” by Dr. Seuss or “The Three Bears’ Christmas” by Kathy Duval.
Storytime aside, do your grandkids seem like brats at the holidays? Keep in mind that many kids who visit overnight are out of their routines. Changes such as a too-late bedtime, too much stimulation and excessive sugar can negatively affect their behavior.
Also, be aware that visiting children who appear extremely finicky may actually have sensory difficulties. Behaviors to look for include: picky eating; covering their ears at noise; hating tags and seams in clothes; refusing to wear shoes or prefering only one shoe type; sucking on their sleeves; or fighting about brushing their teeth and hair.
Forcing behavior that you’d rather see doesn’t work, and looking askance at the dinner table just makes kids and their parents feel bad. Instead, be sensitive and patient with all your young guests.
When your home is full of little guests, safety and childproofing are paramount. Here are some tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that can help you provide a safe environment for children visiting your home:
• Keep medicines and household chemicals in their original, child-resistant containers.
• Store potentially hazardous substances up and out of a child’s sight and reach.
• Keep the national Poison Help Line number, 800-222-1222, handy in case of a poison emergency.
• Leave the original labels on all products, and read the labels before using them.
• Always refer to medicine as “medicine,” not “candy.”
• Clean out the medicine cabinet and safely dispose of unneeded and outdated medications.
• Don’t put candles or decorative lamps that contain oil where children can reach them. Lamp oil can be very toxic if ingested.
• Secure colorful packets of laundry or dishwasher detergents out of the reach of children. They look like candy and are a poisoning risk if ingested.
Read more childproofing tips at www.newsobserver.com/2009/12/15/240806/childproofing-for-holidays.html.
Email Betsy Flagler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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