Amid the stress it’s important for parents to prioritise spending quality time with the whole family. (Unsplash: Jeswin Thomas)
Do your children expect the world at Christmas?
Do you have trouble getting them to help out, either cleaning up wrapping paper or setting the table?
Psychologist Jodie Benveniste spoke to ABC Radio Melbourne’s Ali Moore to give parents some advice on how to navigate the busy Christmas season without too many dramas.
Keeping the peace
Ms Benveniste recommends sitting down with your kids and talking to them about the family’s plans before Christmas Day.
“Talk about what’s going to happen and what we’re looking forward to and expectations about behaviour,” she said.
“Talk about what they’re looking forward to and all of those things so we set a bit of a scene for our kids and prepare them.
“That can be a nice way of pre-empting things and setting a bit of a tone for the day and also getting excited about what’s coming up.
“It can be a good way to ease into the Christmas season.”
Getting kids to help out
Parents should steer clear of bribery when it comes to getting children to help around the house, Ms Benveniste said, but give them options.
“I’m not a fan of bribery but I am a fan of family values and expectations and the idea that in our family we all help out because that’s what we do as a family,” she explained.
“You could have a list of jobs that need to be done to get ready and then maybe they could pick and choose a couple so you’re not always being the director.
“You could say, ‘Well, it needs to be done before whatever time’, so you actually allow them a bit of room to do it within their own time and space — but you do expect them to contribute because that’s what this time of year is about.”
Psychologist Jodie Benveniste suggests talking to kids in advance about Christmas Day plans. (ABC News: Isobel Roe)
Making sure they appreciate their presents
Sometimes the frenzy of presents flying around the Christmas tree makes it hard for everyone to stop and appreciate individual gifts.
Ms Benveniste said making time for children to spend time with a particular present in the days after Christmas helped them think about its value.
“Maybe once everyone’s gone you could look through the gifts and say: ‘Oh, isn’t that lovely that aunty gave you that?’
“You can actually find some other times to engage with what they’ve received and acknowledge and value what they’ve received.”
Don’t lose sight of what’s important
Family dynamics and the pressure of checking off long to-do lists can make Christmas a stressful time for parents.
But Ms Benveniste said it was important for them to focus on the things that really mattered.
“For us as adults, too, we can be under pressure at this time of year and then we can not bring our best to our children and our interactions with them and that can put pressure on everyone.
“[Think about] how can we really enjoy each other’s company, because that is ultimately what Christmas time and family stuff is about and how can we enjoy each other at this time of year.
“I think if we try and focus on that rather than have we got everything organised and sorted … just being able to take a breath and focus on what’s fantastic about our families.”