Holiday Stress! Tips for Families

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Do the holidays make your blood pressure rise? Worried about lots of guests and how it will all get done?
You’re not alone!

Whether you’re a single parent, stay-at-home parent, working parent or any combination of the above, the expectations of the “perfect” holiday loom large this time of year. We’ve all watched so many holiday movies where families are gathered round the table, blissfully sharing stories and laughing together. And even though we’ve all watched just as many holiday “disaster” movies, for some reason, we hold high hopes for that perfect image.

What’s an overworked, underappreciated parent to do? Take a few minutes to consider your “pressure points” and what you can let go, and what’s worth standing your ground for. Is it more important to hold fast to the nap schedule or the Thanksgiving meal? Better for the school age set to eat at the “grown-up” table or at the kids table? Is it more important for the teens to wear the right clothes or have a meaningful conversation with the family?

Take 20 minutes, and find a quiet spot to think about the upcoming event. You know what to expect, and you’ve got to figure out what you can control, and what you can’t control. For the parts you CAN control, consider these tips:

Make a plan for the day. Create a list of what needs to be taken where, to-do’s, and any other pertinent details that are causing anxiety. Writing it down relieves stress!
Recognize that you can’t be all things to all people. Parents today take on so much more stress than they need to! Choose the things that are enjoyable, and relatively easy to accomplish, and set your sights on those tasks. Keep it simple.
Remember the reasons for gathering the family together. Celebrate the small joys, enjoy watching your family members reconnecting, and know that this gathering is just one of many more to come.
Respect the traditions of extended family. Be open to new ways of celebrating the holidays. Children thrive when their parents demonstrate tolerance, patience and impulse control. If we want our children to be patient and tolerant, we must show them the way.
Practice your “stock response”. This is your reply when the extended family gives you the “zinger” you are dreading. Perhaps you might reply, “Hmm, that’s an interesting idea,” or “Okay, I can see your point,” or “I understand what you are saying.” Then, follow with an assertive statement that begins with, “For today, we’re handling it this way ….” In most cases, the speaker wants to know they are heard, and giving a non-confrontational response can demonstrate that you are open to suggestion, yet also comfortable with standing your ground.

Enjoy your time with your family, and Happy Holidays!!

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