7 Ways to Help Children Stay Calm During the Holidays

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I confess there is a side of me that resists that meditative trait of remaining calm regardless of what is coming at me, because, yes, I actually LOVE feeling all worked up and excited, especially at this Christmasy time of year.  But when it comes to our kids before or during the holidays – well, let’s just say that we as Moms know the downsides of excitement too well! We KNOW that an excited child can swiftly degrade into temper tantrums or tears.  So what can we as Mamas do to keep the “all is calm” feeling going on during the frenzy of fun coming at our kids right now? Project Motherhood is here to the rescue with some effective ways to help children stay calm during the holidays.

7 Ways to Keep the Fun in Festive

1. Limit the sugar.

Sugarplums are NOT your child’s best friend.  Yes, the cookies and other tempting treats are literally multiplying all around us, much like the loaves and the fishes. But the bonkers effect of all that sugar is not pretty!  Insist that your child fills and finishes his or her plate with healthy food first, and only then allow them a reward of a supervised trip to the sugar table. And don’t feel like the Grinch when you say, “3 cookies per kid!”  We have all seen the little ones entrenched at the cookie table with cheeks filled up with cookies like a chipmunk.  Not nearly so cute when that sugar high crashes!

Limit the sugar!

Limit the sugar!

2. Keep them active.

The opposite of a sugar high is healthy activity, which then leads to a sense of well being.  This is not just true for you Mamas, but for your kids. And never is some exercise more valuable than during this busy time.  Think about hiking through the woods to cut down your Christmas tree.  Or walking all through downtown to see the window displays. Even the right music playing at home (The Nutcracker?! Or the One Direction Christmas album?! ) can get those little feet moving and dancing in positive ways that will help burn off the excessive stimulation.

3. Control overstimulation.

It is so tempting to overbuy for your children. Every cute toy or clothing item calls out your name, as you picture the joy on your child’s face when they first see it. But remember, this is happening at school too, and at Grandma’s house, and at your cousin’s Christmas Eve gathering. Gifts are literally bombarding your children from all directions.  Be sure to find the right balance between a delightful pile of gifts under the tree and a mountain of endless overstimulation.

4. Take breaks.

You know all those holiday books you have for your kids?!  Use them.  Storytime is such a great time to allow your children to rest quietly and still enjoy the special times.  We liked to sit in the living room, huddled together on the couch under a cozy blanket, complete with purring cat, while the lit Christmas tree glowed in the background. This is a great way to set the stage for naptime, not just bedtime. Try to resist the temptation to make an exception to naps at this busy time, since your child needs their routine as much as possible now.


5. Create a safe place.

One of the beauties of tradition, beyond making memories, is that children know what to expect during these long days of fun.  For example, on Christmas Eve, we always had a simple yet yummy dinner (Fettucine with Prosciutto Cream Sauce and a green salad!), then got dressed up and went to an early church service, and then came home to put on cozy new jammies and read stories about the special day to come. Then once the kids hung their stockings, they knew it was time to settle in for a “long winter’s nap”.  On Christmas Day, we followed a similar pattern of expected events, to help our children pace themselves. It took me a while to realize this extra benefit, but I can’t emphasize it enough…Traditions help your child know what to expect!

6. Family first.

Parties and friends are all part of the holidays, and we love the festive times so much.  But don’t let the pre-parties burn your kids out before the main event.  Remember, Grandma and Grandpa want to see happy and excited kids too!

7. Remember the joyful.

There IS a reason to the season. Regardless of your religious upbringing or personal beliefs, there are values and goals we all want our children to know and to understand. The biggest reason for this season is clearly that of giving.  Of generosity of spirit.  Of reaching out to loved ones and to those less fortunate than ourselves. Let the joy of this time of year guide you and your little ones as you enjoy making memories. With a little bit of effort on your part, your home can achieve a modicum of those lovely words…peace and calm!  And yes, excitement too!

How do you help children stay calm during the holidays, encouraging them to have fun while not losing their cool? If you enjoyed reading this, see our previous piece on helping your child stay cool with giving. It’s all part and parcel of the same thing…a Happy Holiday for one and all!

Fashionably and festively yours,


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