The holiday season is a time for making special memories with your family, but it also can be filled with tremendous stress. Between busy schedules, budget-busting shopping sprees and all of the preparations that go into bringing family together, what should be a time for relaxing and enjoying each other’s company can quickly become overwhelming. Stress usually starts in parents, but it can quickly trickle down to children; and when children feel stressed, the entire household can turn into a frenzy.
The following tips will help your family avoid getting sucked into a spiral of stress this holiday season:
- Cut back on commitments. Trim down the number of parties and events you reply “yes” to this year to leave unstructured time in your family’s schedule. Free time allows for spontaneous family fun and more time to relax together.
- Stick to the bedtime routine. Children often get off their sleep routines during the holidays with all of the activity and sensory stimuli floating around, e.g., sugar-filled treats, stacks of presents and visitors coming and going. To avoid an over-excited, under-rested meltdown, be sure to stick to your child’s bedtime routine as much as possible.
- Step away from the cookies. Too much sugar, sprinkles and food coloring seems to correlate with cranky children and irritable adults. There’s nothing wrong with a sweet holiday treat after a healthy, well-balanced meal, but encourage your family to avoid handfuls of sweets that can make blood sugar spike, followed by crashes and moodiness to boot.
- Eat together at the table. Make a commitment during the holidays to eat as many of your meals as possible together at the table. Let mealtime be a time for coming together as a family amidst the holiday chaos. Eat off of real dishes, light a candle, and take the time to appreciate your food and family.
- Create relaxing family traditions. If you don’t already have family traditions, the holidays are a great time to start them. Consider traditions that will give your family more time to relax and enjoy what the holidays are all about: togetherness. Read a famous holiday story out loud in front of the fire, make a holiday pie together, sing holiday songs, or watch a holiday movie snuggled under blankets. In addition to building peaceful time into your family’s holiday schedule, your child also gains a sense of belonging and comfort by having certain traditions to count on each year.