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Ways to Keep the Kids’ Moods Bright After Christmas

My kids are so excited for Christmas! There’s a lot to look forward to between now and the 25th: school Christmas programs; cookie decorating; movie watching; neighborhood lights sight-seeing; Santa; presents; and family parties! Oh, what fun… until the calendar turns to the dreaded 26th of December. (I wish you could hear my heavy sigh.)

I’m sighing because every year, without fail, sadness befalls my children on December 26th. All that joyous excitement comes screeching to a halt. Santa has returned to the North Pole. Aunts and uncles have gone home and there are no more doors to open on the Advent calendar. Suddenly everything just sort of feels… regular. Of course, the tree is still up, and the unwrapped toys are all put together and ready to be played with. But they have no more anticipation left in the tank. It’s a real downer.

To counter this yearly post-holiday letdown, my husband and I have begun a few new customs to keep the spirits burning bright past the 25th. These are very simple and don’t cost anything (mostly because we’re tired and broke after Christmas… but let’s just say it’s because we’re practical and smart). If the kids still have things to look forward to, then the 26th doesn’t sting as much.

Ways to keep the mood bright during winter break:

* Family Slumber Party – Everyone piles their sleeping bags (or an air mattress if Mama’s fancy) into the family room for the night. It’s even more fun if you invite the kids to pack a bag of their favorite stuffed friends to bring to the party. Pick out a couple of movies, gather some snacks, and snuggle up. Hands-down, this is my favorite go-to “event” to bring the kids some excitement.

* Movie Marathon/Pajama Day – Our favorite thing to do the day after a slumber party is to stay in our jammies and watch movies. Everyone in the family gets to pick a movie – ANY movie – and we all must watch it together. (My husband and I have four kids, so for us this is a legitimate all-day marathon!) I like to do this as close to the 26th as possible so we still have a lot of leftovers. That way I don’t have to cook and can be as lazy as possible! NOTE: We don’t allow any electronics on this day – no tablets, phones, or video games. Just jammies, movies, snacks, and family.

* Craft Day – We cover the dining room table with an old tablecloth, set out the paints, paper, beads and even the glitter, and let them go to town. It’s more fun and less stress if we join in too! Sometimes we’ll do rotating stations with each type of craft to keep it fair.

* Game Day – Inevitably, the kids will get at least four new games for Christmas so one of the days during Christmas break is reserved for Game Day! I must caution you, though. While Game Day will definitely give the kids cause for excitement, the end result isn’t always fun. It really depends on the age of your kids. Two of mine are pretty good with games, the other two always end up crying. But, hey! This might be our year!

While none of these ideas are earth-shattering, they give the kids (and parents) something to look forward to after the Christmas dust settles. And a little anticipation can go a long way to improve our spirits during a long winter break!

Molly Woodman, Outreach Coordinator for The Kim Foundation

Molly Woodman is one of the Outreach Coordinators at The Kim Foundation. Born and raised in Omaha, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications from UNO. Molly spent fourteen years as the Director of Admissions and Recruitment at an area private high school. Her passion for public speaking and advocacy led her to The Kim Foundation in August of 2022.  Molly manages the foundation’s social media accounts, works closely with the Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition, and provides mental health awareness and suicide prevention education to the community through the Voice for Hope and Healing presentations.