Lets face it…the holidays can be stressful. There’s shopping, cooking, cleaning, parties, budget worries, visiting friends and relatives and over-excited out-of-school children. Adults know why they might be on edge, but it’s also very common for kids to be anxious and stressed out during the holidays too.
Kid’s schedules are out of whack, routines disrupted, bedtimes delayed, relatives they may see once a year are in their home and they are fretting over whether they are going to get the presents they want. Good grief Charlie Brown.
So, how you can you help calm your kids? To begin with, you’re going to have to set a calm example. I know that’s a lot easier said than done – but believe me – the whole household will benefit from your calm demeanor, including you. Kids often model what they see, so if you’re in a chaotic whirlwind your kids will probably follow your example and add to your stress.
A couple of tips to help you achieve a more relaxed attitude:
- Prioritize what needs to be accomplished, let go of the rest.
- Give up the idea of perfection – no one is perfect and that’s ok.
- Don’t over spend. Money is one of the biggest stressors.
- Make a realistic list and cross off things that get done.
- Let others help.
- Get the rest you need. Don’t go to bed worried or thinking about what needs to be done. Begin winding down and relaxing before you hit the pillow. (If you can squeeze them in – short power naps are good too.)
Back to the kids.
Too much excitement can be overwhelming for kids too. Set up conditions where they can relax and play by themselves for while. Getting outside and running off some energy can help them unwind a bit.
Kids get cranky when they are hungry. Make sure meals happen at a regular time. It’s tempting to rely on fast food during the holiday hustle and bustle, but make sure that a few fast food meals are well balanced with healthy meals at home.
Kids like routines. They like to know that there is an order to things. Avoid overscheduling and try and keep daily routines on track.
And don’t forget sleep. Tired kids are not pleasant kids. They tend to act out and have very little patience or tolerance for others (sound familiar?) Make sure that your little ones get the sleep they need. Keep bedtimes as close to normal as possible. If you see your child is starting to get really worn-out let him or her sleep later or encourage them to go to bed a little earlier.
And most of all remind them, and yourself, what the holidays are all about. An antidote to the commercialism that has taken over the meaning of the season is to help others. Helping others can be as simple as shoveling snow or raking leaves for an elderly neighbor or maybe volunteering to wrap presents at a family in need campaign.
The holidays can be a giant pressure cooker or they can be a time to appreciate the many blessings we all have. There’s no magic formula for a stress-free holiday season, but focusing on the positive and creating meaningful life-long memories are ways to enjoy the time together the holidays bring us.