It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and for many parents, the most stressful time of year too! Holidays can be a big source of stress, especially for parents who are juggling the wishes of their children and their other family members too. Here are a few tips to take some of the stress away from the little things so that parents can focus on the big thing: being together.
Tips for Dealing with Holiday Stress
Whether you’re rounding the family up for the drive down to Grandma’s or just trying to get a free second to yourself with kids home on break, there are a lot of opportunities for stress during the holidays. Here are some suggestions for ways you can involve your children in your chores and prepare for potential holiday hang-ups during travels, parties and more.
Cooking holiday cookies or treats? Turn this into an opportunity to model healthy behavior for your child and practice listening to directions. For example, if your children want to help you make cookies, you can let them help with a simple task like mixing ingredients after you’ve given clear directions on how they can help. While children can often cause more difficulty in the kitchen than they do help, try to think of cooking together as an opportunity to bond together while also teaching positive behavior to your children. The same advice applies if you’re doing things such as wrapping gifts, addressing holiday cards, or otherwise preparing for the season. Each holiday chore can become an opportunity for bonding and teaching.
Prepare for abnormal travel in advance. Holiday traffic can be slow thanks to clogged roads and bad weather. As you get the family in the car to head out to visit friends or family, prepare in advance for a longer journey and bring along some snacks and activities with your children to help avoid a transportation tantrum. Make sure everyone arrives happy and stress-free by putting some bite size snacks in your car alongside some items like coloring books or small toys and break them out in case of emergency.
Let children decide about holiday hugs. Holidays can be overwhelming for children, especially when they are surrounded by many adults who love them but might not be as familiar as they’d like to be. If your child doesn’t want to hug or kiss a cousin or even grandparent, it’s important that you allow them to set and maintain their own boundaries. Read this article on Philly.com for more expert advice on this subject from Dr. Janet Rosenzweig, author of The Sex-Wise Parent.
Don’t forget to give yourself a break. Being with family is important, but it can be really draining too. Me time is important and all parents need some time to recharge in order to be their best, especially after late nights celebrating the holidays with family and friends. Don’t feel bad about going to bed a little early or ignoring big tasks that would take you a lot of time or effort to complete.
Use the holidays to teach gratitude. We recently wrote about the benefits to development that experiencing and showing gratitude can have. Winter holidays offer parents the opportunity to talk to their children about what being grateful means and how to be grateful for not just toys, but people and experiences too.
From every one of us at Prevent Child Abuse America, we wish you and yours the happiest (and most stress-free!) holiday possible.