Even in the best of times, the holidays can be stressful for parents striving to avoid meltdowns, tantrums and inappropriate behavior – and we haven’t even started talking about the kids. Dr. Aniqa Anwar at the Center for Advanced Pediatrics urges parents to give yourselves grace and permission at the holidays. “Remember. you are allowed to do what you need to do to give yourself and your children an enjoyable holiday,” she says.
As we plan for our second round of “COVID holidays,” we cannot let our guard down and fully go back to family traditions without concern, especially when our youngest children cannot be vaccinated and may infect others, prolonging this public health crisis. While the risk of death from COVID in children is very rare, just one child passing away or developing long term complications is one too many.
It’s ok to say “No”
First of all, remind yourself frequently that it is ok to say “no”. You can say “no” to the giant electric car that your brother wants to buy for your child. You can say “no” to an unfamiliar aunt who wants to hug and kiss your child. You can say “no” to a family meal because you don’t want to field questions and criticisms about your children’s eating habits. You can say “no” to being indoors with unvaccinated people. You can say “no” to a 50-person gathering because you aren’t comfortable being indoors with that big of a crowd. Yes! It is ok to say “no” to things that don’t work for you, your comfort level, and most importantly, your children.
It is ok to tell your hosts that you will be there between 2:30 pm and 3:00 pm after your child wakes. If a meal is being served at 6:00 pm, but your children are used to dinner at 5:00 pm on the dot, bring a small meal for your child to eat at 5:00 pm and give them a small plate of food at the meal with the family – and if they don’t eat it, that’s ok. The important thing is that your children’s bodies and minds are kept on their daily schedule to avoid melting down from the extra stimulus of the holidays.
The COVID Debate
While it may be nearly impossible to avoid debates about vaccinations, masks, and mandates, it’s necessary to draw the line when it comes to criticism over the decisions you’re making to keep your child healthy.
For the sake of your mental health, have these discussions ahead of the holidays. Send an email or make a call to let everyone know of your health protocols and boundaries before your family arrives at gatherings. If your child is under 5, make sure everyone at the gathering who is eligible is vaccinated. Hopefully, your family will react with understanding and respect. If not, it’s ok not to attend.
The holidays should be joyful, fun and full of love. Everyone here at The Center For Advanced Pediatrics hopes your family has a happy, safe, and stress-free experience. If you have any questions about your child’s health this holiday season, please click here to send a message to your provider.