The holidays are the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with your kids and get together with everyone you love. However, along with the holiday cheer comes the obligations, the expectations, and the stress. Parenting is hard under normal circumstances, so adding in holiday sweets, gift giving, family functions, and time off school means things are about to get chaotic.
- Set your priorities
The first thing you need to do is come up with a flexible plan. If you try to schedule everything, you’re just going to end up overwhelmed and stressed out. When you’re thinking about your perfect holiday, try to decide what moments/events/traditions are the most important and make sure there is enough time to prepare. Remember how hectic things can get over the holidays, so be prepared to cut things out. Create a schedule that allows for mistakes, time delays, or rearranging. That way, even if you don’t get everything done, at least your main priorities will still be intact.
- Discuss realistic expectations
Setting holiday expectations is just as important for you as it is for the kids. Discuss gift giving and budgets, making sure the kids understand what the season is about and aren’t expecting things they will never receive. Creating realistic expectations means there will be less disappointment, which means there will be less whining and tantrums for moms and dads to deal with.
- Make your own traditions
Sometimes, it can seem crazy to push the limits of your patience trying to fit into traditions started by other people. Although it can be important to retain some traditions from previous generations, there is no reason why you can’t also start something new with your own family. If you want to build snowmen together, or take the kids to a late movie, or go volunteering as a family, that is your decision to make, no matter what kind of stress other people are putting on you.
- Stay healthy
If you’re going to make it through the holidays in one piece, you’re going to have to make your health one of your priorities (see #1). This means exercising regularly, not overeating too many rich treats, and keeping the holiday cocktails to a minimum. If you are finding it difficult to schedule in some exercise, try involving the whole family. Go for a walk through a local holiday market, go sledding (walking back up the hill is great exercise), or head to a family-friend yoga studio and relieve stress together. Also, be sure to include sleep in your schedule. It is much easier to get sick, lose your patience, or let stress get the better of you when you are exhausted. Get lots of sleep, eat well, stay hydrated, and try your best to stay calm.
This one seems to get harder each year, as the reliance on technology and social media grows. However, to truly let yourself relax into the spirit of the holiday, you’re going to need to unplug. Turn off all your screens, stop answering emails, put away your work, and remind yourself what the holidays are about. Focus on your traditions or family moments instead of reading social media updates. It might seem like a small step towards a stress-free holiday, but you’ll be surprised by how much more enjoyable everything becomes when you are living in the moment.
- Enjoy quality time
Now is your chance to spend some quality, one-on-one time with the kids. Plan some special outings, or schedule in a family game night. Try making some holiday crafts together, or bake some festive cookies. If you really want to earn bonus parenting-points, ask the kids what they want to do and agree to participate no matter what. Despite their age, your kids will appreciate the effort you are putting in and be less likely to give you a hard time later on. The holiday spirit is contagious, so start spreading it around.
- Get some help
There is no reason why you should have to do everything yourself. Even if you have a co-parent, it doesn’t mean the frantic nature of the holidays won’t affect you. Take a look at your schedule and figure out the rough patches, then head to BookJane.com and find some great, experienced child caregivers to help out. Each sitter is qualified and can help in a variety of situations. They can watch the kids while you do last minute shopping, or take the kids on a field trip while you clean the house before you host your extended family. You can try delegating some chores to the kids, but the real help comes from BookJane.
- Throw perfection out the window
The best way to fend of stress during the holiday season is to remember that you’re not perfect, so why should your holiday be? When something goes wrong, take a deep breath and remind yourself the holidays don’t last forever, and there is always an alternative solution to every problem. Forcing the kids to follow your holiday ideals often ends with cranky kids, unruly teenagers, and the loss of your patience. Just remember the holidays are for everyone to enjoy, so no matter what happens, try to relax and have some fun. You can do it!