Even when they're pleased with the toys and gifts they got, and the celebrations they attended, some children can experience a letdown after the holidays are said and done. It feels a little like emptiness. It's when you ask yourself the question, now what? Weeks, maybe even months, of anticipation are over—just like that.
This feeling can manifest as sadness, anxiety, or depression. Children, especially those who are young, may not even realize why they feel the way they do.
There are strategies to help your children overcome the feeling of the post-holiday letdown. Communicating and sharing feelings can help them both understand and work through it.
1. Donate and appreciate.
Create moments for your children to learn about the world around them. Teach them that some people struggle, and not all children are as lucky as they are.
Put together a meal for a needy family. Take a trip to the store to purchase a new toy and either drop it in a donation box or find an event where you can physically hand it over for another child to open. Participate in community events that act as fund raising for local children in need.
The idea is to place your child in a situation where it's abundantly clear that someone is less fortunate than they are. Teach them that while toys and gifts are awesome, not everyone gets everything—or anything—they want. Place less emphasis on their wish list, and more on the ways they can help other kids like them.
2. Write thank you letters.
If your child got to open gifts from grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, cousin, neighbor, etc, have them take the time to sit and write out a nice thank you note for each individual. If they're too young to write, have them draw a picture or scribble on paper.
Shift the focus from sadness that it's all is over to thankfulness for having people in their lives who love them. Take a trip to the post office together, get some stamps, and send out the colorful notes.
3. Remind them about the possibilities.
While the holidays and presents galore may have come to an end, a whole new year of possibilities is at our doorstep. The feeling that all is over after the holidays is real and, sometimes, envisioning the future can help ease that emptiness.
Sit with your child and go over the events of the year to come. Who has a birthday next? What parties or other holidays are coming up? Teach about New Year's resolutions. What do they want to achieve in the upcoming year? Opening the door to anything is possible can get your kids to stop feeling down and start focusing on their plans going forward.
4. Create quality family time.
Play that brand new board game, talk a long walk, sit around and sip some hot cocoa, read a book together, complete a craft, and so much more. Create memories of enjoyable moments with the family.
Give your children a reason to love what happens once the holidays are over. You just may discover that they look forward to the small traditions that come after all the presents have been opened. Pro tip: Make these moments more on the quiet, relaxed side, and leave all electronic devices turned off.
5. Get back into the school routine.
While this one may not be as fun, many of us will agree that kids need routine. By getting them all set to head back to school after the holidays, it puts them in the right mindset for the rest of the school year and focuses their attention on something besides the holidays and presents. If your child's school does not send home work for the school break, consider making your own worksheets or playing educational games to get their mind back on the learning track.