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Executive Functioning and the Holidays

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By Madeline Albertine

Holiday season is officially here! For many, the holidays mean seeing family, taking time off of school/work, and relaxing. However, it can also be a busy season for parents who want to festively decorate their home, prepare fancy meals, or buy gifts for the whole family. The amount of prepping for the holidays can feel daunting at times, but with the right amount of planning, stressful situations can be managed. One way to do this? Include your kids in the process! 

The best part about involving your kids in holiday planning is that you can simultaneously lighten your own load while putting your children’s executive functioning skills to the test. There are lots of easy ways to involve your kids in the many holiday tasks that need to be completed. As a child, I didn’t realize how some of my own family traditions over the holidays were using and improving my executive functioning skills. For example, my family used a large calendar year-round that was placed in the kitchen where everyone could easily view it. This calendar became particularly important as the holiday season rolled around because it helped us keep track of all the important dates that we needed to remember. Some of these events required preparation, so my family wrote in tasks for completion on specific days to keep us organized. Things like when we wanted to hang up holiday decorations, place ornaments on the tree, or even go to grandma’s house to put icing on cookies were all included on our calendar! This task was further organized by having a color designated for each member of the family; that way, it was easy for me to spot plans that applied specifically to me.

Another tradition in my family was writing or typing out my Christmas wish list. Making a Christmas or Hanukkah wish list requires thinking ahead and careful planning, as any kid will tell you. Some years, this was easy because I knew exactly what I wanted. Other years, I searched the internet or asked friends what they were asking for to get inspiration and to ensure that my parents knew what I wanted. As I got older, my parents even included a budget to go with the wish list, which added an extra component of planning ahead for me (and let me tell you, sticking to a budget when you want so many things is hard!). 

These are just a couple ways my family involved us (the children) during the holiday season. Think about what might work for your family and start involving your kids in the planning process. Not only will they feel included, but they will also be improving their executive functioning skills without even knowing it!

Erica MechlinskiExecutive Functioning and the Holidays

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