As we move into a new year, I cannot help but think about the possible stop and go feelings we can all experience during transitions, including this post-holiday time. It can feel like tug-o-war stepping foot outside your home after time filled with sleeping in, together breakfasts, twinkle lights, laughter, and in- the- moment memory making. It can also feel like a race car moment held with excitement for a return to a particular environment while also carrying fluttering butterflies and levels of uncertainty. “Will I be remembered?” and “Help me remember…” can be separate stories or together parts of the same story, for children, adolescents, and adults.
How can we ease the shift from one thing to another? For children, this might look like integrating their worlds a little more. Kids have their school life and their home life, and the two don’t always resemble one another. So when it’s time for children to return to school after an extended time at home (or vice versa) it can feel uncomfortable. Integrating worlds can come in simple gestures, like including a handwritten note in a child’s lunch, caring for the classroom pet on weekends, or offering kids to bring their special school pencils home to use with journaling or a project.
A friend recently told me the story of her work trip. She opened her suitcase in a hotel room 1,000 miles from home, to find a little plastic dinosaur hiding among her clothes. Her toddler had slipped the dinosaur into her suitcase, and the misplaced item warmed her heart, reminding her of home. The longing to be with her children was partially satisfied with the little dinosaur. She was so delighted about the serendipitous integration of worlds that she took that little dinosaur all over downtown Chicago, photographing the dinosaur in all the places she wanted to show her daughter. When she got home, her daughter giggled at the photos of the dinosaur’s adventure.
If adults can thrill at such integration of worlds, imagine how children must feel. Such a small thing as a trinket from home or school can go a long way toward bridging uncertainty. Keeping a calendar with your child can also help, reminding them of the cycle of days at school and days at home. If there’s sadness, on the parent’s part or the child’s, looking at the calendar with anticipation of the next break or family fun time can help.
Thinking about favorite things can bring joy to adults and children too. You can “simply remember favorite things” with a child using this free Choose Your Own Favorite Things download. Choosing a favorite thing to do with a child each day or week might also be a fun way to bring anticipatory joy to the new year.
What about you? How do you capture the joy of the holiday season and spill it over to January and beyond? Do you have ideas on how to bridge the post-holiday blahs? Share what works for you and/or those you care for in the comments below.
Many joyful returns,