Keeping stress-free during this time of the year can seem like a huge undertaking! What should be a time to relax and be with family can turn into a demanding time of year. In a 2008 poll, households with children were found more likely to report the anticipation of stress during the holidays. There are ways for parents to keep themselves and children stress-free during the holidays.
Don’t delay! Leaving things to the last minute can exacerbate feeling overwhelmed by things to do during the holiday season. Finish any shopping early – or do it online if possible. Make your holiday plans before everyone gets too busy. The earlier you start checking things off on your to-do list, the less overwhelmed you will feel.
Pay attention to routine as well. While it’s easy to lose a sense of routine during the holidays, the stability a routine provides can help keep children stress-free. It’s a good idea to pay attention to bedtimes and ensure that a routine is maintained.
If you participate in gift giving or exchanges, set expectations for your children. Do the same with family gatherings – introduce your children to their extended family before throwing them together at a large family gathering. Set realistic goals at dinner, rather than expecting your children to sit still at dinner all night.
Keep things in perspective – don’t blow events like a big family dinner out of proportion. Your children can sense if you are stressed out and they will mirror your energy. Besides – you are participating in these events because spending quality time with your extended family should be enjoyable! If you are feeling overwhelmed, get your children involved. Let them help prepare a meal or set the table for guests. By letting them help, children learn to be appreciative of their meal as well as responsibility. You and your significant other can also take turns spending time with your children, so if one of you need alone time to recharge, you can have it.
Don’t give up on hobbies and activities you enjoy! While this may be a busy time of the year, taking care of yourself and your children by setting time aside to relax can help keep things stress-free. Taking a walk, sipping on some hot chocolate, building snowmen, decorating, baking desserts together, or going ice-skating with your children can help put the holidays in perspective. Stress-free activities such as these can be planned daily so more time is spent with your children. That’s what the holidays are all about anyway – spending time with your family!