If, during past holiday seasons, you and your family have experienced as much seasonal stress as you did seasonal joy, you're likely looking for ways to manage the stress better. As much as you love the holidays, you don't love holiday meltdowns. This year, head off the middle-of-the-department-store tantrum by thinking early about ways to reduce your family's holiday stress.
Set realistic expectations
You know "real life" doesn't get totally suspended because an oversized elf is coming to visit and retailers have amped up the advertising a wee bit. But do your kids? Have you talked with them about how, excited as they are for the cousins to visit and the decoration to come out, things like chores and homework still have to be done. Monday is still laundry day and there are still spelling tests on Friday. The mundane routine does not disappear when holiday specials appear on the television -- and bedtime is still 8:30 p.m. They need to be reminded of that!
Make sure your family has enough downtime amid all the holiday festivities to process all that is going on. Going from one fun holiday activity to the next can seem like a blast in the moment -- but what's the chance of total over-stimulation followed by complete emotional meltdown? Yup, pretty high. All of you need time to chill out. Instead of going on to the next activity, stop, pull back and just be. Make some hot cocoa or popcorn and just relax together.
Instead of going from one activity to the next, stop and take some time. Make some hot cocoa or popcorn and just relax together.
Watch sleep and rest routines
It's easy for bedtime routines to get disrupted amid the festivities -- but now more than ever your kids need their rest! Maintain bedtimes and bedtime routines and naptimes for the littlest ones. With proper rest, your children will be able manage the emotional upheaval of all this excitement much better. You, too, for that matter!
Plan some non-holiday activities
The stores and the media and the world may be screaming holiday, holiday, holiday -- but something non-holiday may well be in order. What is something you and your family like to do together that is not holiday related? Bike rides, hikes, museum visits, playing board games or any number of activities can help relieve some of the holiday pressure, reminding you and your family that the core of your world is there, even amid the frantic festivities.
With a little preemptive planning, you can make sure that this holiday season, there's more fun than frustration. Help your family deal with the stress before it becomes an issue!
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