Out of the Routine: 3 Tips for Adjusting to the Holiday Break

Holidays are here. Presents are open. Family is visiting. The routines are a mess.  Though we may love the fact that we don’t have to get our children up at the crack of dawn and can hang out all day in our pj’s if we want, the routine we have set up for our children during the school year is interrupted. When our children are out of their routine, sometimes chaos can takeover.

It’s safe to say that many of our children thrive on the predictability of a routine. During the school week, our children wake up at a certain hour, attend school, come home, complete homework, eat dinner, bathe and finally get to bed. The schedule for the weekend can be less structured but it’s only for a day or two. Holiday breaks can last upwards to two weeks. Yikes! Not having the usual routine, can leave children feeling a bit anxious, chaotic, and overwhelmed.

Strategies for Holiday Vacation

Be aware of school assignments given during the vacation.
Elementary children may not have much schoolwork assigned over their vacation but the older the child, the more work they will get from school. Be mindful of the long -term assignments that were given in early December and are due during the month of January. Create a time management plan which will show time slots for everyday where the children will complete school assignments. I usually recommend using the morning to complete assignments so the kids have the rest of the day to plan fun activities. You may be met with some resistance from your kids, but if you help them to “chunk” the work into small segments each day, your child will see that completing the task is attainable. “Doing your homework will only take the same amount of time it takes for one Disney show.”

Allow structured time for playing with new toys.
Many children can hyper focus on their shiny new toys. How many of us say that our kids could sit in front of a video game for hours?

Just like you will set up a time management plan for school assignments, incorporate time slots to for your children to play with their new toys.

Try to keep the nighttime routine as close to the school week routine as possible.
If you enforce the usual bedtime and night- time rituals during vacation, the transition back to school will be easier. Naturally, the children will want to stay up much later because they are on vacation, but if you allow every night to be a late one, the children’s transition back to their school routine will be difficult.

Holiday vacation is about enjoying family, planning fun activities, and relaxing. Spending your days as close to your usual routine will not only help your children, but as the parent, you will feel more in control. Structure helps children feel safe and reduces anxiety, ultimately making for a great vacation.

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Marcella Moran, MA, LMHC About Marcella Moran, MA, LMHC

The Kid Organizer




  • http://www.facebook.com/martianne.stanger Martianne Stanger

    Might I add buy/accept less shiny new toys to adding structured time to lay with new things? I echo your sentiment about needing to set aside time to explore new items and can also attest to a less is more philosophy. For the past few years, my children receive 3 presents on Christmas morning and enjoy their time with them so much more for it. :)