The final holidays of 2019 are here! (How did this year go by so fast?) Hopefully they will be filled with fun times: visiting with families and friends, presents, good food, and hopefully sharing with those less fortunate. (The holiday season continues to offer lots of opportunities to teach your children about kindness, empathy, and the joy of sharing.)

But they are also filled with your children – school is on vacation! Don’t try to stay busy with your kids every minute, as a relaxed schedule is nice for two weeks. Some younger kids want and expect to be entertained by you every day. But don’t give in to that expectation. As I used to tell my kids when they would complain about being bored, “That sounds like a personal problem.” Expecting our kids to entertain themselves by using their imagination is reasonable and a wonderful skill.

But do have fun. Bake cookies, go to the park, visit Santa at the mall, and have play dates with friends. Go out in the cold one night to look at the stars and look for your breath. Stay in pajamas later than usual, hang out at home and play, and make breakfast for dinner. Watch movies at home and in a movie theater, go to a museum, and laugh a lot.

Explain to your children that every family celebrates different holidays in different ways, and that one holiday is not better than the other. Every child should be taught to appreciate diversity, and to value our differences.

Make writing thank you notes a part of your holiday traditions also. Teach them how to write a polite note, and insist they write the note within one week of receiving the gift (or risk losing it!)

Your tweens and teens are thrilled to be on vacation. Hopefully they have just finished the stress of finals, and can’t wait to do nothing for the next 2 weeks. They don’t want or expect to be entertained by you. In fact, some teens don’t want to spend any time with you. (But they will if they know you are paying!) They want to schedule their own activities, make their own plans, and just have you agree to all their requests. (But don’t!)

Sleeping late and allowing them more time to play computer games and text their friends is fine. They need unscheduled time with fewer expectations and less pressure. But they also still need supervision and enforcement of the same health and safety rules. Maybe they can stay out late on a week night – but you still need to know where they are and who they are with.

And, finally, at every age, take lots of pictures! They are only this age once.

Thank you for allowing me to join you on your parenting journey. I look forward to seeing what 2020 will bring to us all.