Melissa Petcu MS OTR/L, occupational therapist at the Midtown office of Child and Family Development, emphasizes that pediatric occupational therapy is all about “the job of living”. Families can capitalize of events and activities already happening around the house to facilitate development and improve skills. In December, she shares:
It is so easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the holiday season. Some children may need a little time and attention to adjust to the different routine and environment (hello big bright Christmas tree!). For the most part, parents and kids can modulate the excitement level and finish out school with good behavior until Santa comes down the chimney with a sack full of toys.
However, we sometimes forget the adjustment AFTER Christmas. Let’s prepare for the change back to routine, after the toys are played with and school is about to begin again. Talk with your children about the end of the holiday season. Have them help you take down the ornaments and d√©cor. Involving them with this process will help them prepare for what’s ahead.
The same can go for house guests. If your children have been anticipating the coming of extended family like grandparents, give them a calendar to mark the arrival and departure of the relatives. Talk during the visit about how many days are left with loved ones. Involve them in planning activities to do with the relatives prior to them leaving. Preparation for arrival and departure of house guests is key!
One last thought about handling the aftermath of the holidays: there is never a better time to implement a new cleanup/toy organization routine. With the new toy additions, encourage children to organize toys into bins or cabinets, label them with pictures or words to help ensure success with maintaining the organization. Establish some rules, such as playing with one toy at a time and putting it away prior to starting with a new one. Practicing the rules during winter break will allow for repetition and increase likelihood of enforcing them, even after the chaos of school, work and extra curricular activities ensue after the new year.