No matter your family celebrates this season, there’s no doubt that the holidays are upon us. Kids are counting the days until winter break, finding a parking spot at the mall on a Saturday is nearly impossible, and your to-do list has probable doubled (or tripled). It’s supposed to be a magical, winter-wonderland season, but for parents, the holiday season can send stress levels through the roof.
So how do you trade some of the hustle-bustle for fun, and possibly even a little well-deserved relaxation?
Accept that you can’t do it all.
There are probably a hundred things you’d love to be doing with or for your kids. Decorations to be made and put up, treats to bake, gifts to find and wrap and deliver, and envelopes to be addressed (after you proof your self-designed card that took twice as long to make as you thought). Don’t forget the holiday chorus concerts, shows, and sights to see, or the family events and gatherings. Also, the dog still needs to be fed, kids still have homework, laundry needs to be done (my elf still does not pitch in on that one!), and chances are someone is coming down with a cold.
What’s the take-away message here? In order to enjoy the holidays, it helps to acknowledge that you simply can’t do it all and accept that missing out on a few things here and there does not make you a bad parent. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. By having realistic expectations you’ll spend less time frantically dashing around and more time actually connecting with your kids. That sounds like pretty good parenting to me!
How can you put this into practice? Here are a few ideas:
• Give yourself permission to say no if you truly don’t have the time, energy, or resources to do what’s being asked. Know that this may result in some level of disappointment, but if you’re spread too thin your family will suffer and that does not help your stress level at all.
• Let go of what everybody else is doing. This is easy advice for us to give as parents, but sometimes harder to follow especially if you look around and see other moms and dads with seemingly picture-perfect holiday plans and activities. Trust me, you have no idea what’s going on behind those matching hand-knit sweaters or professionally shot family photos…so let it go (or it will drive you crazy!)
• Give thought to what really brings you joy during the holidays and commit to making those things happen. And, remember that this does not have to be over-the-top. Digging out an old recipe or cuddling up with your kids to watch your favorite holiday movie can go a long way.
• Keep it simple. Whether it’s gift giving, menu planning, or charting a family travel agenda, choose what’s most important to give, have, or see and invest your energy there. It’s common sense that juggling too many things can be exhausting and send stress levels through the roof so simplify and know that you’ll definitely deliver on the things you are choosing to focus on.
Take time out to take care of yourself. The holidays are not a free pass when it comes to self-care, and the best way to feed stress is to go-go-go without taking a breath or acknowledging that you’re still human despite the date on the calendar. So, make time for the things you know keep you grounded and healthy that sometimes go by the wayside (like sleeping, and vegetables).
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