It’s that time of year when many of us, children especially, are overwhelmed with the excitement of the season and too much stuff. There are times when we have little control over generous family members and family traditions, so the key to a happy holiday season with young children, is to build in some down time and to manage expectations.

The most important thing you can do to help your child and your family enjoy the season is to take time to explain the plan of the day in simple, clear language. “Today Grandpa is coming to visit. After lunch we’ll go for a walk together through the woods. Grandpa knows the names of all the trees. Let me know if you get tired, we can rest and have a snack.”

Sometimes well-meaning adults bring children to an event that is includes a large group of noisy people, flashing lights, and a totally new environment. Be sure to have a plan for your child if it’s all too much. Simply paying attention to your child and moving to a quiet corner to share a snack can help reboot the day. Sometimes adults (who were excited to share this experience with your child) may get upset. Their expectations were that your child would love the amusement park and they wanted to share in the fun, so they don’t understand why your child is upset. “We came here as a treat for you.” So, managing adult relatives’ expectations before you leave home can help keep everyone focused on just enjoying being together.

Enjoy the Winter season and I hope you get to share it with family and friends!