The holiday season is filled with messages of excitement, love, peace, spending time with family, and slowing down to savour all that is positive. When I chat with parents, holiday times are often fraught with chaos, stress, noise and sometimes tears as they try to get everything done on their to-do list including and not limited to shopping, food preparation, social engagements, church services, holiday concerts, etc.
Parents can easily become overwhelmed by all that “has to be done/must occur” in a very short time frame. Couple holiday excitement with stress, you have a potential combination for brewing the “perfect storm”. I see a lot of heightened anxiety and excessive worry during the winter holidays compared to any other time of year in both parents and children. Keeping your cool is easier said then done.
I have compiled a list of 10 holiday “survival tips” for parents on how to help you keep your “parental cool” and rein in the “craziness” during the holiday season.
- Break The “Rules” And Try Something New:
Sometimes “breaking the rules” of family traditions are a great way to eliminate undue family stress. Consider establishing new family traditions that best support your immediate family. Often times we are nervous to stray from our traditions ESPECIALLY those of us in multicultural families combining more than one type of tradition. So many families these days are supporting many cultural traditions and it can be overwhelming to keep each one alive. Instead, talk to your children and invite or ask them to make suggestions on what they’d like to explore. Children as young as 2 can vocalize how they’d like to spend time during the holidays and it makes them feel fantastic that you have incorporated their ideas.
- Redefine What The Holidays Represent:
Understand what the “heart of holidays” means to you and your children. Perhaps it’s about spending time with family, trying new things, or getting away as a singular family unit. Whatever you decide is the most important can then become your household’s new family tradition.
- Build Your Child Into the Holiday “Process”:
Get your children to plan the holidays! This might just throw many Parents into a tizzy to even consider. HOWEVER, children are some of the most creative people on this planet. Whether you put them in charge of menu development, cleaning and decorating, sending out greeting cards or invitations, etc. Children LOVE to be involved in the preparation process. So, take advantage of their ideas – reinforcing that they are an important voice in the family household.
- Share In The Holiday Planning:
I LOVE the idea of “divide and conquer”! SO many parents decide that they have to take on everything themselves so this year why not share the holiday planning responsibilities with other family members (grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles)? This takes the pressure off you and allows others to feel important in creating those holiday moments and memories.
- Stick To Your Budget:
Nothing can be more stressful than overspending at holiday time, knowing that you have spent more than you intended and have to pay off more than you budgeted. Establish a budget early and stick to it! Keep your receipts and a running tally. This will prevent all sorts of undue financial stress and those ever-present January financial “woes”.
- Take GOOD Care of Yourselves:
Parents please make sure you are taking good care of your health during this time of year. Eat well, get plenty of rest and take some time just to hang out with people that are important to you without the children. Plan a special date night for you and your spouse, get a couples massage or visit a spa before the craziness of the holidays begins. And if you’re single, plan a dinner with friends and make sure you’ve got some amazing childcare so you can take time out to nourish yourself.
- Try Your Hand At Online Shopping:
Online shopping is another tremendous way to take the stress out of the holidays! Sending gift-wrapped packages directly to loved ones can save you time and money – no standing in line, driving all over the place or needing to gift-wrap. Online shopping can be a blessing for those hard to shop for people and there are many unique gift items you can choose from such as gift cards or charities that you can send a donation to in their name.
- Volunteer Your Time:
So many charities require support during the holiday times. It’s a GREAT way to give back and support your local charities. Take your immediate and extended family as a way to connect with family members – the more the merrier! Volunteering not only teaches your Children to appreciate all that they have but the importance of giving back which for many of us is what the holidays are all about.
- Let Go Of The Holiday Expectations:
We put way too much pressure on ourselves to produce the “perfect” Holiday. It’s not about the perfect gift or celebration, it’s about the experience. Children simply want to spend time with their parent(s) and they really care about little else. So let go of the pressures and live in the moments – that’s what creates those beautiful family memories.
10. Learn About Other Cultures:
If you are new to a country, community or culture, find people that can help you acclimatize and understand how the holidays are spent. Children LOVE to learn about their global communities and traditions so this is a perfect time to teach them. There are numerous community centres that love to offer support and guidance about their cultural traditions and all you have to do is ask. Conversely, encourage your children to teach your cultural traditions either through the school community or have them host a party and invite school friends to participate.
No matter what you choose to do this holiday season, remember it’s not about the gift, it’s about the experience of creating beautiful memories with your loved ones.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
About Laurel Crossley
Laurel Crossley is a highly sought after speaker catering to topics on self-development, parenting and child development. She is a columnist for Together Magazine, a regular guest on the Gail Vaz-Oxlade Night Shift Radio Show and Rogers Daytime as well as recently being invited to participate as a regular Parenting Panelist on Canada AM. She has been interviewed for Chatelaine Magazine, Oh Baby Magazine, Today’s Parent, The Globe and Mail, and The Toronto Star. She hosted, and produced her own cable television series, MomU! which aired from 2009 – 2012.