How Do You Do Holidays “Right?”

Another Halloween is over! It’s funny how Halloween is a single day, but it almost seems like a week-long (or more) event. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Halloween this week. 

Halloween has never been my favourite day. I’m a creature of habit, and there are many new (and different) routines when it comes to this celebration. (Another teacher in the school always jokes with me that I’m the teacher that arrives 2 1/2 hours before school begins to only have 20 minutes in our classroom because of the Before Care Program. I basically arrive 2 1/2 hours early to work in the staff room. Yes, this is me.) With this very thinking in mind, I’m sure that you can appreciate how dysregulating an upside down day can be for me. I think this tweet kind of sums up my stress on Wednesday.

I will admit then that despite many deep breaths and thankfully my located coffee, I was certainly still feeling the stress of the holiday. Everything about Wednesday seemed different to me.

  • We started our day with a parade instead of outside in the forest. This meant lots of parents lining the hallways and tons of noise, crowds, tears (not from me), and bright lights. With the timing of the parade, we didn’t have time to get outside before nutrition break. I definitely missed the fresh air and exercise to begin our day, and I think that many of our students also did!

  • Our play started earlier. With the excitement of Halloween, we had a shorter group time that began before nutrition break (when usually it begins during the break). This meant that kids got settled into play even earlier in the day. Did this make our long block of play seem even longer?

  • With Pizza Day, many kids ate their lunch earlier, which meant that the quiet transitions to the eating table never really happened. Even when kids went over there, they tended to eat all at once, which varied from the norm of going to graze or at least stopping to eat a few times during the day. 
  • The mess was epic … even by our standards! Play is messy, and as the day goes on, it often looks as though a tornado hit the room. You have to watch out for the Lego pieces, blocks, logs, paper, markers, water spills, etc., that often grace our floor for at least a short period of time. Thus is life in Kindergarten! 🙂 On Halloween, the mess was getting to me more though. Maybe it seemed just a bit bigger. As the day wore on and the students started to enjoy their candy treats in their lunches, the sugar took effect. Sugar rarely helps produce good cleaners, so with big messes everywhere and a lack of interest in tidying anything up, I was feeling more dysregulated. It could have been sensory overload: I seemed hyper-focused on the mess! 

  • I knew that I needed to leave school earlier today. With getting ready for trick-or-treaters at home, I couldn’t arrive back when I usually do. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m a creature of habit. Trying to leave school earlier on a day with a special celebration, Pizza Day, Popcorn Day (which was thankfully postponed until next week), and no prep day, made leaving earlier that much more challenging. I wanted to be able to reflect with our student teacher, plan for the next day, and upload some documentation, and all that I could envision was getting nothing done. 

No doubt about it: when the day came to an end — despite some highlights — this photograph really resonated with me. 

I really just wanted to celebrate “surviving Halloween!” 🙂 This is when I started to look at some of the photographs and videos shared by fellow educators on Twitter and Instagram throughout the day. There was tons laughter, smiles, and fun! Looking back at our day, the excitement was also palpable as the kids arrived in their costumes. 

I started to wonder: am I doing this wrong? Maybe it’s my own stress over the day that’s making me perceive things differently than they appear and/or inadvertently increasing the stress of others. I started to think about one of my favourite Stuart Shanker quotes.

No matter how much I may have learned about Shanker’s Self-Reg, on certain days the stress seems that much more and the Self-Reg options never seem like quite enough. Am I the only one that struggles on holidays such as this one? How do others deal with the changes in routines and the increased stress? All I know is that on November 1st — which should have been a more challenging dayeverything seemed that much better. I wonder if the ability to get outside (even in the pouring rain) and to settle back into a regular routine, was equally beneficial to us and to the kids. With more holidays on the way, I wonder if there’s a way to reframe the holiday crazy into something more settled. If nothing else, I can definitely relate to that child (or adult) that might struggle. You are not alone!


4 thoughts on “How Do You Do Holidays “Right?”

  1. Oh Aviva, I hear you! It has been a very challenging week emotionally, mentally and pedagogically. Our school made a change in the way we did Halloween celebrations. In the past, we gathered in the gym to show off costumes, review trick or treat procedures, then dance the Monater Mash. Some found it very dis-regulating, so we tried out a change of a small parade. Some teachers and students missed the community and celebratory aspect of the gym gathering. Some were less stressed by the new method. Some were still overstimulated. I don’t know what we’ll do next year (hopefully it can be discussed more in-depth and decided earlier than we did this year) but to mid-quote Dickens, holidays can be “the best of times and the worst of times”.

    • Thanks for your comment, Diana! You made me think about just how differently people can respond to holidays. Here you had one change that produced such vastly different results. I wonder if there will ever be a perfect option.

      I think about our principal that tried to stay focused on the joy that holidays bring. Would this help with seeing them differently? I wonder if they can truly be joyful for everyone. Maybe sometimes the “win” is survival, and then the joy of moving on the next day. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing the Dickens mid-quote! It really does sum up the ups and downs of holidays so very nicely!


  2. Like you, I am thankful Halloween week is over. I need to follow your lead and take my kids outside in the rain because we had 3 straight days of indoor recess! While I was thankful for the end, I realize the importance of these shared experiences in the larger scheme of the year. Having things to anticipate, collaborative opportunities (Halloween poster contest, pumpkin decorating contest – each class was submitting things) in preparation of the event and then the reflection and memories afterwards. We are making a class book modelled after Briown Bear, but in this case it is our class rabbit April who is doing the seeing.
    And I’m hoping next week is s better week!

    • Thanks Kim! Going out in the rain definitely helps. It was actually quite refreshing on Thursday. We all loved it! Indoor recess just makes life more stressful for everyone, in my opinion.

      Thanks for also sharing how you celebrated these days! Maybe they’re still stressful, but could these celebrations help us view the days through a different lens? I think they might. Not always easy to do, but something I could work on. Have a fabulous week!


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