It’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of year.” But the holiday season can be overwhelming and draining.
The holidays can feel like running a marathon. There’s always places to be, things to buy, and a never ending to-do list. It’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of year.” But the holiday season can feel overwhelming and draining. To make this season meaningful and peaceful, here are four ways parents can survive the holidays.
1. Stick to Your Routine
Life during the holidays really picks up steam. Family comes in and out of town. Kids have end-of-the-semester projects and exams. Then they’re out of school for winter break. And extracurricular activities go into overdrive with concerts, tournaments and recitals.
Your normal routine can be a little out of whack during the holidays. It’s important to care for your needs while still enjoying the festivities. Stick to your normal routine (or establish a new one) during the holidays.
Here are some examples of routines to keep up or start:
Early Bedtime: Establish an early bedtime for your kiddos (and for yourself). With all the excitement of the holiday season, it’s easy to stay up late. However, getting enough sleep will make everyone happier and ready for festivities.
Daily Exercise: Work out every day. Exercise is good for both your physical and mental health. And you’ll need both to keep up with the holiday chaos. Stick to a daily workout routine. It can be simple like a family walk, 15 minutes of jumping rope or a quick jog.
Quiet Time: Establish quiet time for your kiddos everyday. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be overwhelming. But both your children and you could benefit from some peaceful, quiet time each day. Use this time to read, play, color or do puzzles. Quiet time is a great time to reset and get your footing again.
Wakeup Early: Wake up early each day. While your family is sleeping in, you can use this time to get work done or do some selfcare. Waking up early can be tough, but the benefits of an extra hour or two to yourself are worth it.
Stay Healthy: Along with a routine, be sure to keep up your healthy habits during the holidays. Make sure you’re drinking enough water. Fill up on healthy food before diving into your holiday treats. It’s exciting and fun to enjoy all the holiday food, but make sure you’re taking care of your body’s needs, too.
2. Set Reminders
With all the school parties, volunteer projects, family gatherings, and recitals, it’s easy to forget a thing or two. We tell ourselves that we’ll remember, but let’s face it, we usually don’t.
To make sure you don’t forget any important events, set reminders in your phone as soon as you get the invite. You’ll be so grateful when your phone reminds you to bring a treat for the school holiday party or buy a present for your work gift exchange.
Always be sure to keep up with your email during this time of year, too. Most schools, dance studios, sport coaches, and so on communicate through email. So try no to miss one!
3. Get It Done Early
It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday rush. To give yourself space for memories with your loved ones, get your holiday prep done early. Some things to get done early include:
Buying Presents: Presents tend to be a big party of the holidays. And if you’re like me, they can bring a lot of stress. It’s overwhelming and exhausting trying to find the right present for everyone you care about. But, getting this done early will help to minimize the stress.
Buying presents early can make it more likely that your presents will be in stock. You’ll also get to avoid crowds of last minute shoppers. If buying presents online, ordering early will ensure your presents arrive on time.
While everyone is frantically trying to buy their gifts, you’ll get to enjoy a relaxing cup of hot cocoa on the couch.
Planning Your Holiday Menus: Decide what you’re going to eat for the holidays a few weeks in advance. This will give guests plenty of notice of what to bring if they want to contribute to dinner.
Purchasing Holiday Food Items: Similar to buying presents, don’t wait until the last minute to purchase your holiday food items. Your ingredients could be out of stock. Or you might have to wait in long lines at the store. Neither of which sounds merry or bright. Get your holiday grocery shopping done a week or two early to avoid unnecessary stress.
Planning Holiday Activities: There are plenty of festive activities to do around the holidays. This can include running in holiday races, seeing light displays, baking cookies, and decorating gingerbread houses.
Planning holiday activities early will help you book tickets in time, gather any needed supplies, avoid crowds and spread out your activities. You can do a little bit each week instead of trying to squish them all into one weekend. You’ll be less exhausted and able to enjoy them more.
4. It’s Okay to Say ‘No’
The holiday season can be very emotionally triggering. It is filled with high expectations and plenty of shoulds: I should buy my kids lots of presents. I should have lots of family and friends to share it with. I should be thankful and merry…but I’m not.
Take this holiday season to find peace and gratitude. When life is tough, like it has been this year, the rush of the holidays can be overwhelming and stressful. These emotions can make it difficult to recognize the good moments in your life and enjoy your time with loved ones.
A few years back I remember crying at Thanksgiving Dinner. We were going around the table and sharing what we were thankful for. I was so exhausted from such an emotionally draining year that I could not think of anything to say. I genuinely did not feel grateful for anything.
2020 has been a difficult year, too. If your emotional tank is running low, it’s okay to say ‘no’ this season. If necessary, attend less holiday parties. Don’t put up as many decorations. Shorten your family visits or limit travel completely.
If money is tight this holiday season, start brainstorming some new holiday traditions. Though we live in a consumer society, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to make memories.
One of our newer family traditions is the candy exchange my aunt started a few years back. Every Christmas we play White Elephant. But instead of gifts, everyone wraps up their favorite candies. This candy exchange is less expensive and definitely less stressful than a normal gift exchange. But it’s a fun, new holiday game that I’ve really enjoyed.
Another inexpensive holiday tradition that I love is cutting out paper snowflakes. It’s simple. But I love that our family listens to music and chats while making them. It’s low stress and exciting to see how your snowflakes turn out once you unfold them. My siblings and I are all adults now, but we still love this holiday tradition. We even proudly hang up our snowflakes all over my parents’ home.
Some new, inexpensive holiday traditions you can start this year are eating Root Beer floats, running/walking a family 5k, making cookies, writing letters, volunteering, completing a holiday puzzle, singing carols, making gifts, playing a game of family football or having a holiday talent show.
Conclusion: This Holiday Season May Look Different, And That’s Good
We want our holidays to be full of fond memories. But getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of high holiday expectations can take away from this wonderful time of year. Try approaching the holidays a little different this year. Stick to a routine, set reminders, get things done early, and be okay with saying ‘no.’
Make this holiday season about finding peace, gratitude, and healing. Let it be a time to reflect, feel all the feelings (the good and the bad), and be in the moment.
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