7 Cures for Kids' Post-Holiday Letdown

Ways to help kids cope with the blues when holiday excitement ends

holiday letdown - boy sad after Christmas holiday
Great fixes for after-holiday letdown in kids. Lynn Koenig/Getty Images

For children, the holidays -- Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year's -- are the most exciting and wonderful time of the year. (The only exception would probably be their own birthdays.) That's not surprising when you consider all the awesome things that are part of the holidays -- the anticipation, the planning, time with family and friends, and of course copious amounts of gifts and yummy food and treats, not to mention a break from school -- and it's easy to see why kids, and for that matter, adults, can experience some major post-holiday letdown once the festivities are all over.

But there are some things you can do before and after the holidays to ease the transition back to "normal" life once the festivities are over. To prevent post-holiday letdown, try following these tips:

  1. Schedule some quiet activities during get-togethers. When you are with friends and family, kids will likely run around together, play raucous games, and go from activity to activity. But it's important to also plan some quiet things to do with kids such as reading. (This can be something grandparents can take charge of, since it can be a treat for kids to have grandma or grandpa read to them, even if they've already mastered chapter books.) Other downtime activities can include taking a quiet walk, working on a puzzle, or working on some holiday crafts. Setting aside some quiet time can not only help prevent holiday stress in kids, but it can help ease the transition to the more quiet time that will come after the holiday hubbub dies down.
  1. Limit the treats. Much like eating a sugary doughnut for breakfast in the morning can lead to an energy crash and affect kids' ability to perform at their best level physically and mentally throughout the day, indulging in too much sugar and treats during the holidays can affect kids' health and mood when all those sweets stop flowing. Not surprisingly, putting an abrupt end to holiday treats can be a major contributor to holiday letdown. (Remember: Early January is usually when many adults declare that they will eat right and exercise more as part of their New Year's resolutions.) Instead of going full-speed ahead to an abrupt stop and suddenly declaring that treats are off-limits once the tinsel is put away and the holidays are over, exercise moderation when it comes to how much sugar and rich foods you and your children eat throughout the holidays. That way, they won't experience a sudden switch to a healthy diet (and a sudden end to all the relaxed rules about healthy eating).
  1. Take the emphasis off material things. This is easier said than done in today's Black Friday, holiday-sales, consumer-oriented society. But it's possible to share a few wanted gifts under the tree and still balance it out with charitable works and spirituality. Ask indulgent relatives not to give your kids too many gifts, help kids find ways to volunteer in the community or neighborhood, and make the holidays more about family activities, history, and tradition, rather than on opening gifts. You'll not only be teaching kids to be charitable, but your children will be nicer people who are not spoiled when they grow up with the the message that happiness is not achieved through material possessions.
  2. Set a post-holiday tradition. You have lots of activities and events around the holidays, from trimming the tree or putting up the Menorah to baking holiday cookies and decorating the house. But chances are, there is nothing planned for after the holidays other than going back to your normal routines, including work and school. Try setting up some fun post-holiday traditions, such as making each family member's favorite dinner for each night of the week after the holidays or going ice skating the first weekend after the holidays. You can even make this time of the year the time to try something new or engage in a favorite activity together as a family, whether it's taking a family cooking class, driving to a nearby town you've never visited before, or going bowling at your favorite local bowling alley.
  1. Make some new decorations. Taking down all the glitter, tinsel, and shiny lights can be a big bummer for kids. One great way to make the celebratory feeling last longer into the new year is by coming up with some wonderful winter decorations, whether it's a snowman garland, paper snowflakes, or other winter crafts for kids.
  2. Spend some family time together. Grab some board games, go for a walk, or make some treats together and settle in for a favorite family-friendly movie.
  3. Ease the transition back to school. Going from vacation mode to back to school and work can be jarring for kids and adults alike, and can certainly play a big role in post-holiday letdown. To make the switch back to early morning routines and books and rules easier, try to keep kids to consistent bedtimes and good sleep habits, especially a few days before the first day back to school.

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