Holiday break is finally here – three long weeks with your beloved children all together under one roof. The stockings are hung above the fireplace, shiny tinsel is weaved through the tree and your family’s favorite Christmas cookies are baking in the oven. Any minute now, your teens will come running through your front door ready to embrace you with open arms and excited to start their holiday break off right!

As wonderful as it seems, this scenario rarely occurs outside of a Hallmark movie. Christmas break can feel more like chaos than peace. With more time on her hands, your daughter finds trouble in and outside your festive home. Screaming fits spread faster than Christmas cheer, and the only place joy can be found in your home is etched on an ornament – which will probably be broken by Michael the next time you tell him he can’t stay out past 11 p.m.

So what is a parent to do this Christmas? How can you have the peaceful, fun-filled Christmas break you dream about while listening to Bing Crosby?

You must first understand the missing component: structure and a schedule. When your child has a planned timeline to follow each day, he or she is less likely to step out of line. Not every hour has to be accounted for, but setting goals and planning activities will help keep your child busy and out of trouble. Busy with homework? No. Busy with fun, yet productive, activities? Yes.

Second, greed has a way of stealing Christmas cheer. Don’t fill your child’s Christmas break with commercialized activities. Instead, fill his or her time highlighting the joy of giving and sharing the Christmas spirit. You could start by giving your time to those in need. Try caroling in your neighborhood, hospital or homeless shelter. During each visit, allow for a few seasonal songs and readings from scriptures proclaiming the birth of Jesus. Ask a few other families to join your outing to make it more fun for your kids.

In our rush to make Christmas the perfect holiday, we often forget to involve our children in the gift of Jesus’ coming. Invite your children to decorate your home in celebration of Christ’s birth. Biblical symbolism can be found in many Christmas decorations. While placing the Christmas tree in your home, mention to your children how evergreens never lose their greenery, just like we have the gift of eternal life. As you string the lights, remind your teens that Jesus is the light of the world. Finally, when you place the star on top of the tree, share the story of the star that guided the three wise men to Jesus’ birth place.

When kids are cooped up in one place for too long, they can get restless and irritable. Plan a family outing to see a Christmas play, whether it’s the nativity story or a Christmas performance showcasing good will and cheer like “A Christmas Carol.”

Finally, if both you and your spouse are working during your children’s break, you will need to find someone who can provide supervision in a safe environment. One option is to call upon extended family members to help. However, if Grandma and Grandpa are not close by, try coordinating a supervising schedule with other trustworthy families. You may also reach out to local organizations such as your local church, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs or other organizations for holiday programs and camps.

For additional support and advice on managing your teens over Christmas, contact us today.