The time has come to take down the Christmas decor and pack lunches and backpacks again. While you may be thinking, “Finally, I have time to myself again,” your teenager is probably not thrilled about the early morning alarms and exams they’ve been thrown back into. If your child is struggling with post-winter-break blues, read on and put a few of these ideas in your back pocket to use this week.
- Help your child to establish a good school-life balance. After winter break, it’s homework, quizzes, and tests galore. With the end of the school year approaching, work can pile up in the blink of an eye. To avoid extreme overload, set non-negotiable time to work and play to keep a healthy balance. Make the time to relax or hang with people just as important as time to do school work. Completing projects and studying for tests is important, but so is rest and mental health.
- Encourage him/her to set up hangouts. This can go with the work-play balance described above. Part of what makes winter break fun is the leisure time spent with family and friends. So if your child is craving some of that time lost with the people they care for, encourage hangouts (after homework is done, of course!).
- Get them involved in something they love. Over winter break there are sleepovers, parties, delicious feasts, and presents, all up until the ultimate letdown of going back to school. This wikiHow article (yes, there’s a wiki for everything) suggests bringing back the excitement of fun activities that’ll make you actually look forward to something. Find a fun club for them to join, an organization to volunteer with, new art supplies to use at home—anything to help them remember that while holidays are fun, the rest of the year doesn’t have to be a drag. It’s all about what they do with the time they have!
- Keep a positive attitude. This one is for us parents. We’re back to driving our kids all over tarnation, packing lunches, and staying on top of their homework, all the while still working and caring for our homes—we’re susceptible to the post-winter-break blues, too! This site suggests that, after winter break, a teacher’s attitude, negative or positive, has an impact on students. How much more do our attitudes matter, then, when we spend a lot more time with our kids? Even if you’re fed up with the constant whining over homework, try to consistently shift your focus back to the good things the Lord is doing, and your kids will see that attitude shift in you. Our kids are affected by the examples we set, so let yours be one that’s positive, hopeful, and trusting in God above all else. (A caveat here: There’s a difference between choosing to see the positive and being fake. Our kids will see right through us if we’re not being real with them. So rather than seeing this as encouragement to pretend everything’s fine if it’s not, take this as a reminder to ask God to reorient your heart and help you see all the good He has given you. And if you are struggling with something, don’t try to hide it from your kids. Be honest with them about the struggle, as well as how you’re seeking help from others and from God with that issue.)
- Maintain a healthy diet. This may seem a little unrelated, but there are proven links between the foods we eat and our mood. Over the Christmas season, we tend to stuff ourselves with cookies, pies, and an array of rich foods, all of which lead to an overload of processed junk inside of us. (This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Part of the fun of Christmas is enjoying our favorite comfort foods.) Come January, our bodies and mental health can reap the rewards of what we’ve been eating. Try getting your teens to eat more fruits and vegetables, foods that will truly nourish their bodies after the sugar high of Christmas, and hopefully watch a mood shift thereafter.
There you have it, five steps to a better second semester. You know your child better than we do, so take these tips and tweak them to work for your family, or use them as inspiration to come up with something completely new!
If your child displays signs of more severe troubles after winter break, such as depression or anxiety, consider taking them to get professional help. Our Parent’s Guide to Depression & Anxiety is here to help you take steps toward recovery for your child.