Friday, December 21, 2012

Extroverts and Introverts: Holiday Cheer

Growling, four-year old Matt backed away from his grandmother when she attempted to kiss him hello. This was actually progress.  Last year he had hit her.  Sara on the other hand, leapt into her grandma’s embrace almost knocking her on her heels.  Two hours later, off in a corner, Matt happily played a game of Memory with grandpa.  Sara was running through the living room shrieking, unable to contain her excitement over all the commotion around her.   Extroverts and introverts – what each type considers “fun” and “needs” is quite different during the holidays.  Plan for success, by taking the time to assess who in your family is an introvert and who is an extrovert. 

Introverts like to watch before joining in, so to insure that the greetings go smoothly show them photos of who will be there before you arrive.  Teach them to give a welcoming high five.  It is a socially acceptable way to say hello and still protect their space.  They can also choose to sit in chairs with arms– again to protect their space.  If they’re little keep them in your embrace until they have had time to observe and decide they are ready to respond. 

Know what’s fun to introverts is some one-on-one time with a favorite person and even though they love the relatives too, they are still going to need a quiet space or time outside for a break. Teach them to ask for it instead of growling, throwing a fit or crawling under the table and refusing to come out.  If they choose to take a break by focusing on the iPod instruct them to find an out if the way space instead of plopping on the couch where the extroverts will immediately rush to join them and drive them crazy by invading their space.   Most importantly recognize when a good time has been had by all and it’s time to leave. 

On the other hand, a holiday spent with others is nirvana for the extroverts who thrive on interaction and activity.  Trouble is they can get so wound up by all of the energy of the event that suddenly they are bumping into everyone and so loud that others are covering their ears in self-defense.  Like introverts, extroverts may also need a break from the action; the challenge is getting them out of there so plan on taking a ball or sleds for time outside.  The group can come too, but at least there is a little more space to slow things down.  Speaking of taking breaks it’s also important to teach the extroverts that when the introverts wish to stop playing games it’s not a personal insult, and when the introverts slip away for a little peace and quiet to avoid following them to “keep them company.”  Somewhere there is another extrovert they can find to continue playing.  If possible you might also want to take two cars so the introverts can leave when they are feeling drained and the extroverts can party til the wee hours.  Appreciate the gift of differences.  Happy holidays! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Keeping the "happy" instead of the "hollering" in the holidays: Getting things "done" with the kids

Darkness falls at 5:00 PM here in Minneapolis.  Long, cold nights make us want to curl up under a down comforter with a good book or to simply fall asleep.  But like the snow piling up outside, the “to do” list of the holidays dumps more on our schedules already filled to the brim.  So how do you keep the “happy” instead of the “hollering” in the holidays?  Let your children “help,” albeit with a degree of modification. 

  • If you plan on baking, put your little one up on a sturdy stool at the sink.  Fill the sink with a little water and suds, drop in a few non-breakables for them to wash and you have a budding sous chef.  If you are uncomfortable with the stool, or don’t have one, cover the floor with a few plastic garbage bags duct taped together and use a washtub full of water.  Be safe by picking up the plastic when they’re finished. 
  • If you are making cookie dough, before you begin and while the children are napping, mix up a quick batch of play dough.  Then while you’re making cookies you can put them to work with the play dough and a few cookie cutters of their own.  Here’s the favorite recipe from Paidea:

o   5 cups flour

o   1/2 cup salt

o   2 T vegetable oil

o   2 Pkg. unsweetened Kool-Aid

o   2 cups boiling water  *make sure it's boiling hot or it will fail

o   Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Spoon the dough into a large Ziploc bag and knead until smooth and warm to touch.

o   Do not try to double this recipe, it will fail.  The play dough will keep in the fridge for quite awhile.

  • If you are wrapping gifts give them their own boxes, scraps of paper, child-safe scissors, tape and ribbon and let them go to it.  
  • Writing cards?  Grab a few sheets of paper, stickers, markers and old envelopes for them to create their designs.  Add a “mail bag” for delivering their creations and they’ll be engaged for hours. 
  • Need to clean?  Little ones love a spray bottle with a little water in it, their own swifter, a whisk broom and dust pan, hand vac or even the real vacuum.  Teach them now and when they can really be of assistance they’ll have the skills.   
  • The older your children the more they can participate in the actual baking and other activities.  For the early reader turn the recipe into a “picture” card – 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt.  You get the point. Encourage them to “write” part of your holiday letter.  Stamps and address labels can easily be handled by a school-age child. 
  • Taking a little time to plan for how to engage your little ones will reduce your stress dramatically plus you’ll be teaching skills and creating traditions for a lifetime.