Posted by: Roseann Murphy | December 28, 2010

Easing your child back to real life after the holidays.

The holidays affect our lives in many different ways. Our schedules change with our children on winter vacation and we are in more contact with relatives and friends than the rest of the year. The season becomes its own new routine with the home decorated, siblings and parents around much more and parties, or events, that involve traveling or filling the house with friends and family. When the holidays are finally over, as adults, we might feel exhausted, relieved, or as if we just stepped off of a roller-coaster. We can expect that children will experience similar emotions once the holidays have come and gone.  As important as it is to manage the transition into the holiday season for an infant, it is important to ease them back into normal life once the holidays have passed.

Many families culminate the holidays with a decoration exorcism by putting away and throwing out everything holiday related almost immediately. As adults, this might seem practical and a little bit therapeutic, but the sudden change can be a heavy load for an infant to carry. From their perspective, the world has literally been turned upside down.

Take a little bit of time throughout the holidays to communicate to your child with short and clear messages.  Explaining that this is a season and as such it will come and go. This is a perfect way to begin to ease the transition back to normal life. Let them know that relatives will return to their home, brothers and sisters will return to school and the decorations will have to come down.

With an infant in the house, it is especially important to slow the process down.  In the case of decorations, consider the act of taking them down and putting them away less as, “cleaning up,” and more as a family experience.  This process will help your child better understand what the holiday is all about. This does not mean you need to completely alter your schedule.  It is simply giving a little bit of extra time for your child to process and get a little bit of closure. This way, it will not appear as if the “magic” of the holidays just disappeared.  

In the case of toddlers, try giving them their own special box and allowing them to have a few extra days to put their favorite holiday memories away.  They will not fee rushed. They will be given a moment to realize the festive time is coming to an end.

Leaving holiday books on the shelves is another way to make the transition smoother. This is helpful because this allows your child to keep the holidays present with them in all seasons, reminding them that it is something that happens every year. Even though we as adults may not feel the same way, there some holiday books that children like to read year round. The books add to the memories of the wonderful time they just experienced. Leaving some holiday books out will give the child a sense of continuity.

By patiently planning a transition out of the holidays for our children, as well as ourselves, we are modeling the significance of these celebrations.  This simple process allow us as adults the opportunity to take a breath and absorb how beautiful and amazing the holidays are with young children because, after all, they grow up so fast.
Post by: Magdalena Palencia


  1. This is BEAUTIFUL. I feel calmer just reading it… We will enjoy these wonderful festivities and then life will…go…back…to…normal (whatever THAT is). I swear I am still a toddler at heart. Magdalena, thank you!


  2. This article truly gets to “the heart of the matter”. Taking time to relax and enjoy throughout the holiday can be difficult …but you have given us the opportunity to take a breath and enjoy the holidays slowly and with meaning.
    The picture of the child in the window is classic! That little child’s expression says it all! Thank you again!!


  3. Magdalena, it is fantastic seeing you. You are as beautiful as ever. The video makes me want to go out and make a basket for my mother. Great ideas, great drawing. I am impressed. We love and miss you. Wonderful Memories of Little River School Thank you, Love Ed


  4. ah I have just found this. We are already a bit back to normal although nothing is normal anymore with the little man finally crawling.
    I just hope I will find all those wonderful articles when the holidayseason starts again and the little man is older and will certainly need those transitions in and out….
    Thank you for this!


    • Nadine, How wonderful to see you on the site and to hear your son is crawling. You are certainly right when you say “nothing is normal anymore” now that he is up and moving! Do you have a specific space for him or is he able to move about the entire house? Will wait to hear all about his adventures!! Enjoy every moment! Roseann and Magdalena


  5. we did a slow transition of cleaning up from the holidays, and involved our 2.5 year old in the process. he is a child with SPD, and transitions are very difficult for him on a normal day. so the coming and going of holidays was very tough his year. by letting him help us ‘take apart’ the house, he was able to understand that christmas was over and would come back again next year.
    as an aside, we also ‘rationed’ out the gift giving. rather than receive a huge cache of gifts on one day, we spread it out over a week, so that it was easier for him to handle.


    • Thank you very much for reading and commenting. It is very nice to see that this has been useful to parents.


  6. Thankyou very much for this post, my little 3yo is struggling with the idea of normalcy and this has really helped me to have a ‘game plan’. We told a bedtime story last night about how Christmas finishes and then comes again after your next birthday, he seemed to like that and repeated the story to himself as he fell asleep.
    Thanks again.


  7. Absolutely love this! I am a nanny and tomorrow the family comes home from 7 weeks up north. It will be hectic to say the least and at 3 years old and 11 months old I know they will be extremely out of sort, this article makes me smile. I almost put their decorations away today but I think now the kids and I will do it together (yes they decorated this home before thanksgiving even knowing they wouldn’t be here haha) thank you so much! Look forward to reading more 🙂 thanks Janetlansbury for the FB link 🙂


    • Anna, so sorry..just saw your post…thank you so much for your kind comments. Magdalena has such insight when it comes to transitions. I think this article applies not only to the holidays, but birthdays and many other activities…one moment it is there, the next moment it is gone with little explanation. Hope you are doing well…we send kind regards.


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