End of the year survival guide for time-poor parents

After a BIG year, the run-up to December holidays can be exhausting for children, families and hard-working teachers. When everyone is tired, the last weeks of preschool and school can be tricky.

With routines out of kilter, exciting extra outings and a seemingly urgent need to catch up with everyone you know before 25 December, is it any wonder that your children aren’t quite themselves right now?

Here’s a quick survival guide from Kids First’s team of psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists and teachers to get your kids through the last couple of weeks at preschool and school!

Child psychologists in Sydney's northern beaches share tips for parents at Christmas

1. Have a routine and stick to it

Yes… the year is coming to an end, but when preschool and school schedules are being interrupted and changed, your children need familiar routines right now.

Kids First’s psychologists recommend that you try not to add to your children’s energy levels by mixing things up at home.

Do what you always do and give your children stability.

More than ever, they need certainty, so if things at preschool, school and home are out of whack, there’s every chance that your children’s behaviour will be affected in some way, shape, or form.

Child psychologists in Sydney's northern beaches suggest online shopping instead of taking tired children to the store

2. Choose your battles

Do you really need to take your children shopping after school at the moment?

With extended hours, a tiny window still available for online ordering and ‘click and collect’ programs, the last place you probably need to take your children is a busy shopping centre.

Noisy Christmas carols, bright lights, big crowds and the temptation of toys on display is going to make your quick trip to the Mall longer and harder, so think flexibly, leave your kids at home and you’ll be glad you had the supermarket aisle to yourself!

Child psychologists in Sydney's northern beaches say it's important to keep kids hydrated at Christmas time

3. Water tight

As summer days start early and heat up quickly, make sure your little (and not so little) people have plenty of access to water and other cold drinks.

Dehydration makes children tired and cranky, and our bodies often mistake hunger for thirst.

Kids First’s OTs tell us that sipping from a water bottle helps children to calm and regulate their behaviour too – so this small tip is an important one to remember as this year’s classes draw to a close.

Child psychologists say kids need to relax at the end of a busy year

4. Down Time

Life can get frantic at the end of the preschool and school year.

Parties, concerts and end-of-year work functions add extra complexity to already busy lives, so when you can… take time out.

It’s OK to do nothing… and in fact, it’s important to teach our kids how to relax.

Family movie marathons, pajama days, and quiet times when all devices are turned off and the lights are turned down low can work wonders for everyone’s mood at this crazy time of year.

Child psychologists in Sydney's northern beaches say children need sleep at Christmas time

5. Bed means bed

Exciting, active days and the anticipation that is part of the holiday season can be taxing for kids.

While you may be tempted to let them stay up a little longer, beware the cumulative effects of insufficient sleep on your children’s behaviour, social and emotional resilience.

When you hold the line on bedtimes, you will create certainty and stability that is calming for your kids.

Child psychologists in Sydney's northern beaches recommend that parents spend time with their children at Christmas

6. Trust your instinct

You’re the parent and you know your child better than anyone.

We very rarely meet a parent whose gut instinct for their child isn’t absolutely correct, so if you think things are getting to be a bit much, it’s perfectly OK to leave early, arrive late or simply catch up on another date.

There are 52 weeks in a year, and there’s plenty of time…so pace yourself, and ENJOY this special time with the people you love.

Sonja Walker
© 2022 Kids First Children’s Services

Need support for a child you care about?

Kids First’s highly qualified team of child psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists and educators supports children aged 2-18 and their families.

We welcome children of all ages and abilities to our multi-disciplinary practice in Sydney’s northern beaches and also support families who live further afield via tele-health.

We warmly invite you to contact us if we can be of assistance to a child or family you care about.


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