Don’t Cancel Christmas! 5 Tips to Relieve Holiday Stress

Use these tips to manage stress and parent well through the holiday season!

It’s a miracle that the tree is actually still standing.

Between the impromptu pillow fight in the living room and your toddler’s never-ending interest in rearranging the ornaments, it’s still in pretty good shape.

Still, you have your doubts that it will last until Christmas.

Unfortunately, the tree is only one of your concerns right now. There’s the cookie baking, the gift purchasing, and the get-togethers in completely un-kid-friendly environments.

Christmas is stressful.

Here are 5 tips to help you manage the holidays without canceling Christmas:

  • Redirect “greedy” children. Find opportunities for your child to give to others: carry a roll of quarters to use when your children spot a red Salvation Army kettle; let your kids bake pre-made cookie dough and deliver cookies to the neighbors; clean out the toy box and take a donation to Goodwill. It is normal for a child to want a specific gift or have a long wish list during the holidays. Use this as an opportunity to explain that you are excited to give them a gift they will enjoy, and you also love other aspects of the holiday season that can’t be purchased.
  • Anticipate meltdowns. Schedule extra one-on-one time with your child, especially on the days when you feel stressed or overwhelmed. A child’s meltdowns often signal that they need your undivided attention and that they cannot cope with the current situation on their own.   Positive one-on-one time can also prevent future meltdowns; saying “this is going to be a really busy day, so I wanted to make sure we got to spend some time together” can really go a long way with kids.
  • Manage excitement. Keep the same daily routine as often as possible and allow for downtime on busy days. Understand that the lights, candy, gifts – or even anticipation of gifts – may be too much for some kids to manage. Assume that they do not have the skills to handle this much excitement, and provide opportunities to practice calming down. Encourage them to engage in activities that shift the focus from the upcoming holidays onto normal, everyday events – cooking, cleaning, or playing with friends.
  • Encourage respect for family members. Talk with your kids about what is expected when interacting with relatives. Giving your kids the opportunity to talk about their discomfort around Great Uncle Bob or annoyance with Cousin Sammy shows them that you respect their feelings. Rather than making a vague statement such as “be nice,” talk about what this means to you and give them examples of things you would expect to hear and see from them during the family event.
  • Address expectations concerning dress clothes. Instead of battling it out over the clip-on tie an hour before the party, start discussing your expectations early – even a few weeks before the event; let your child know that they are expected to wear something nicer than they usually wear to school. If possible, work with your child to come up with a solution that you both can live with; maybe jeans are ok if he wears a tie or your daughter can pick out a pair of printed tights if she agrees to wear a dress.

I know you don’t need one more thing on your to-do list this time of year. But, a little planning ahead can make all the difference. Slow down. Take a minute to address these concerns ahead of time and feel less stressed later.

Oh, and maybe get some duct tape for the tree.

Nicole Schwarz (couch 3)

Welcome! I'm Nicole Schwarz.

I'm a Parent Coach, Licensed Therapist and Author of It Starts with You. I help stressed, overwhelmed, confused parents find calm, confidence and connection with their kids. No one is expecting perfection here. But, if you’re willing to examine your parenting, find encouragement, or try something new, this is the place for you.

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