Little girl excitedly offers her mother a bite of their thanksgiving meal as her older sister looks on

Holiday Parenting – Navigating Stress and Generating Joy

There tends to be a lot of pressure on parents during the holidays. We often feel the need to create an idyllic holiday experience for our children, which translates to budget-busting buying sprees, sugar-laden holiday treats, and lots of gatherings. As a result, the holidays can end up being a frenzied and stressful time for families – but it doesn’t have to be this way!

The following tips will help you navigate stress and generate joy this holiday season:

  1. Create some white space on your calendar. Re-evaluate the number of parties and events you reply “yes” to this year. Leave some open space on the calendar so there is unstructured time for your family. This is when spontaneous family fun happens or when you get to enjoy sweet snuggles with your child!
  1. Maintain the sleep routine. The holidays are notorious for throwing you and your child off of your regular sleep routines. Adults and children alike need adequate sleep all the time, but especially during the holidays with all the stimuli and activity. Try to keep your normal bedtime routine in place as much as possible to avoid stress and exhaustion.
  1. Watch out for sugar overload. Too much sugar, white flour, sprinkles and food coloring seems to correlate with cranky children and irritable adults. Excess cookies and candies contribute to blood sugar spikes that are followed by crashes, so, try to limit sweets for yourself and your children to a special holiday dessert after a healthy, well-balanced meal.
  1. Keep it simple. Homemade ornaments and simple holiday décor can ease financial stress. Go easy on the holiday gifts, too. Dietician and Primrose consultant Ann Dunaway Teh provides simple and delicious recipe-in-a-jar gift options in her post this month. Focus on quality time as a family rather than how big and bright the holiday looks from the outside.
  1. Make mealtime meaningful. During the holidays, make an extra effort to eat your meals together as a family at the table. Eat off of a nice dish, light a candle, take a breath and say a prayer of thanks, or just take a moment to be grateful for your food. Let mealtime be a time of coming together and enjoying the moment, whether you are with your family or by yourself.
  1. Silence is golden. Make time for a bit of silence every day, whether it’s in the morning before the children wake up, during naptime or right before you turn in. Silence or turn off all electronics, find a comfortable seat, close your eyes and focus on how your breath feels coming in and going out of your body. A moment of meditation can go a long way during the craziness of the holidays.
  1. Create joyful rituals. Make time for family fun every day with holiday rituals you and your children will always remember. Read a holiday story or watch a holiday movie with your children, take turns saying what you are thankful for or sing holiday songs in the car.

This holiday season, slow down, create space for yourself and your family and enjoy the natural flow of life rather than bogging down your schedule with commitments. You will likely find your days much more enjoyable and meaningful. You may even want to continue some of the above tips in the New Year to help you navigate the stress of daily life!

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About the Author

Lynn Louise Wonders, MA, LPC, RPT-S is an early childhood development and parenting expert. She offers private coaching and consultation for parents throughout the U.S. She is a well-known professional in the field of play therapy, providing training, supervision and mentoring to child therapists world-wide having practiced for more than 15 years in schools, child development centers and through her private practice.