Keeping Safe on Dark Nights

 We’re now very close to Christmas. The days have gotten shorter and the dark nights are creeping in. Many of us may be feeling the effects such as low moods or energy. We’re almost through the first semester school year, and the routines can become tiring for both parents and children. We start to look ahead with anticipation to the Christmas break, but Christmas can often be a time of stress for many of us. We might be worrying about how to cope with the extra financial pressure; it might highlight some stresses and strains in our family relationships; we might create pressure on ourselves for everything to be perfect (the surest way to start a family argument!)

So, during this in-between period, how can we make sure that we mind ourselves and our children? Below are some ideas about how to ensure that this time of year is tranquil and safe and a time for connection rather than isolation.

  1. Get Cosy. A little bit of effort (a cosy fire, a warm pot of soup bubbling on the stove, some soft throws on the couch) can make a big difference. As the days get darker and colder, it helps to spend some time nurturing our senses and giving ourselves and our children a sense of comfort and security.
  2. Get Active. The crisp, sunny days are made for outdoor adventures and enjoying the changing colours and light. Those cold, rainy, drizzly days can prove more challenging. It really is worth the effort to throw on the rain gear and get out outside, even for a short time. The exposure to light (even grey light) and the exercise can make a big difference in your mood. Have the raincoats and the wellies handy and encourage the whole family to get involved. The promise of big mugs of hot chocolate on your return may help!
  3. Get Together. There is something to be said, for this time of year, when people tend to retreat inside. Think about simple ways to make this time together inside fun for all of the family—board and card games, simple activities like an obstacle course in the hallway, movie and pyjama nights can make the long nights feel special.

This article was contributed by a member of Parenting Limerick, a network of parenting and family support organisations in Limerick.