There is no place like home this holiday season

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The holiday season may look very different from the one to which you have become accustomed, but in some ways it can be even better. You won’t be shuffling from one holiday party to another, or gathering as communities to perform or listen to festive tunes, but you also won’t have to endure endless waits on highways or tarmacs either. 

TRADITIONS REIMAGINED: Though we cannot gather together to enjoy holiday parties or share in community traditions, many traditions can be reimagined in COVID-friendly ways. Take a long walk or a nice drive to look at Christmas lights together with to-go hot cocoa. Set up a Polar Express pajama party on Zoom with holiday goodies and watch the film together. Put together a virtual holiday sing along or crafting afternoon! Remember the cookies your kids always bake with Grandma? Bring her into the kitchen via Facetime!

GIVE YOURSELVES A BREAK! It is beneficial for the whole family to be intentional about taking time off during the holidays. While it is tempting to work during this period, as a parent, you need to allow yourself adequate time and space to relax, spend some time in nature, get exercise, and take a mental health break. Take care of yourself first and you will be better equipped to take care of your child. Give yourself permission to delegate some responsibilities so that you have the energy to support family bonding. Be a great role model. Experts advise that when you are with your children, it is especially important to be off of your devices and to avoid technoconferences; the best gift you can give your family is your undivided attention and love. 

MAKE A WISH(LIST): Each member of your family has different hopes and goals for this season. It’s important for children and teens to consider what would make them happy and to have the opportunity to express themselves. Goal-setting supports discipline, responsibility, and confidence; in the midst of a quarantined winter break, working toward goals will help the whole family enjoy the break in healthy and entertaining ways. Conduct a family “survey” to find out what each person would like to achieve or experience during this time and, when they look back on this year, what they would like to remember. Once you understand what they would like to accomplish and the memories they wish to cherish, you can support their interests. 

TOGETHER APART: Staying connected with friends and family this season is vital for keeping spirits high. Encourage your children to find time each day to connect with someone outside of your home by writing a note, text or email, placing a phone call, or arranging a video chat. This is considered beneficial screen time. You may consider extended family holiday dinners on Zoom or share the joy of kids opening gifts through video chat with grandparents and others. 

SHARE THE LOVE: Encourage everyone in your household to share the love with someone each and every day! Give a hug (to someone in your house!), write a personal holiday card, create a homemade holiday gift, enjoy each person’s favorite meal just because it’s their favorite, send a holiday music video to grandma and grandpa—the possibilities are endless!

There is no sugar coating the fact that several of our favorite holiday traditions won’t happen this year. However, there is no reason not to start some new festive ones with your immediate family at home. Embrace the opportunity to try new things—you never know what pandemic activity will become the holiday tradition you carry out for the next 50 years!

We hope you find many opportunities for joy and new experiences this season. We wish you a wonderful, safe, and healthy festive season and bright and hope filled New Year!

By Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, President and Founder Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development

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