Want to Truly Enjoy Your Holidays? Let Go of Your Expectations

Posted by Alyson Jones.

It is the festive season again. Another year has rolled by and we are now busy decking the halls, trying to find that perfect gift, and worrying if we will be able to manage our holiday budget. When we pull out the old string of lights we remember that half of them do not work, and we are behind in our shopping. The Christmas commercials are in full swing, and each time we see a commercial we either see an idyllic family scene or harried parents trying to juggle it all. As parents, the two faces of Christmas are often reflected back to us as either perfection or overwhelm.

Many of the commercials try to tell parents that we can overcome our stress and have the perfect family Christmas, as long as we buy their product or shop at their store. That image of the family sitting at Christmas dinner, everyone smiling at each other and the ideal turkey perfectly placed on the platter, can quickly become a great disappointment if we make perfection our goal.

5 Tips to Transition from SCHOOL to Summer

Posted by Alyson Jones.

Blend Images/Mike Kemp via Getty ImagesThere is no doubt that it was a ragged end to the school year in British Columbia. The school strike led to abrupt endings for many public school students, as well as much confusion and anxiety around juggled schedules and adapted plans. Many parents were caught off guard. Rather than the traditional rites of passage that we have come to expect, many concerned individuals worked hard and scrambled to create substitute ceremonies. A smooth transition from school to summer seemed like a far reach for many. Although there were families who had a tidier ending to the school year, there was still a rush to handle all of the wrap-up activities. Sometimes reflection and planning for the summer got lost in the mix.

Children of all ages do best with routine. However the younger the child, the more dependent the child is upon adults to determine and execute the routines. Routine is important for adults as well and as a parent I must admit I have come to rely heavily upon the school schedule to guide the transition to summer. It is human nature to mark our changes with beginnings, middles and endings. A common complaint is that June is busy with closing ceremonies, awards nights and all sorts of wind up parties – nonetheless, both the parents and children benefit from these rites of closure. This year helped me see how much I appreciate all of the teachers and adults who organized and put together these celebrations. I am also grateful to all who went above and beyond to make something special happen for the children. As this school year had an unusual ending for many, here are a few tips that can help transition your child from school to summer:

Four Things to Consider in the New Year: Comforting Reality Checks

Posted by Alyson Jones.

The festivities have wound down and now we are faced with the reality checks.  The bills will soon start arriving, there are no more presents to look forward to, and we now have to deal with the consequences of our overindulging.  It is true that the holidays can cause a bit of wear and tear to our health and wealth, but they also mark our time as special and precious.  Do not despair or fight the reality checks, as reality is needed in order to truly be present in your life.  Here are 4 important things to remember in order to lighten the load when the reality checks begin to hit home;

Four Tips for MORE Merriment this Holiday Season

Posted by Alyson Jones.

Since the Yuletide comes but once a year, this time is precious, fleeting and oh so dear!

Hold onto the season and share the cheer.  In order to experience MORE merriment and joy, here are four simple tips that can make a big difference in your holiday season;

Managing The Holidays Season After Divorce & Separation

Posted by Alyson Jones.

The holidays can be a stressful time for any family. Family members can get lost in a flurry of activity, focusing on deadlines and forgetting about the joy. But if your family has gone through a separation or divorce, this time of the year may have a whole new set of challenges. The holidays can turn into a very complicated and difficult time for the parents and children from separated families, and below are some tips on how to move your family towards a meaningful and memorable holiday season.

The reality is that children who have parents living in two different homes may experience some extra burdens. They may worry about which parent they will be with at what time, and they may fear that their parents will fight over how they share the holidays. As a child and family therapist, I have had many children sit in my office who told me that Christmas used to be their favorite time of the year, but now they are just dreading it. In order for the adults to help manage this season it is important to understand what turns youthful joy into anxiety and fear. Children may worry they are being disloyal if they start to have too much fun with one parent. They also worry about the parent that they are not with, wondering if that parent is okay. Sometimes they just deeply miss the parent they are not with. The familiar traditions may be gone and this can leave the children feeling as though something or someone is missing.