The holiday season can be magical and exciting for the whole family, but it can also feel like a whirlwind of activity. Often, this busy time of year can lead to stress in every member of the family. Here are some tips to help you and your children prevent and deal with holiday stress.
Set realistic expectations
For parents, the holiday season can feel extra stressful. You may feel self-imposed pressure to provide the perfect holiday for your children, or this pressure may also come from external sources. However, trying to achieve this level of perfection is unrealistic, and can lead to stress for everyone involved.
Instead, set realistic expectations for the holidays. Think about what’s most important for your family, and determine what things you can pare down or cut out altogether. For example, if you want to teach your children the value of spending time with loved ones, you may want to make your family holiday meal the main focus of the day, and worry less about having the perfect decorations around the house.
Plan properly for outings
While there’s no denying that a spontaneous family trip to get your child’s picture taken with Santa can be fun, it’s important to be prepared during the holiday season. At the very least, ensure that outings are scheduled around your preschooler or toddler’s naptimes, and bring snacks and distraction aids to help make the outing run smoothly. Discuss the day’s plans with your child, and help him to understand what’s expected of him. Respect your limits and your child’s limits, and don’t expect more than what anyone can handle.
Take time away together
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the holiday season’s external expectations. In fact, you might even find yourself pulled in so many different directions that your own family holiday planning can take a backseat. It’s important to spend time together as a family, whether it’s a day spent creating holiday crafts, or even a family movie night after dinner. Taking time away from holiday obligations to be together will help to recharge and relax the whole family.
Remember to communicate
The holidays are busy, and things will never go perfectly. When emotions run high, it’s important to keep the lines of respectful communication open with the family. Toddlers and preschoolers see the world very differently from their parents, but helpful two-way communication is still possible. Through conversation, you can help your child express and understand her emotions. You can also help her to understand your perspective. Sharing your feelings, expectations, and thoughts throughout the holiday season can go a long way in preventing stressful situations for the whole family.
No matter what you have planned, the holiday season can seem busier than any other time of the year. To help the whole family avoid and reduce stress, remember to be realistic, develop strategies and plans, spend time together, and communicate. You may find that the holiday season isn’t quite as stressful as it seems.