Today, Jane (also of see jane blog) shares her tried and true tips for reducing holiday stress for the whole family:
Particularly as a mother, I've noticed over the years that the holidays can be both difficult and joyful -- for kids and adults. Big expectations tend to provoke stress: Getting the right gifts for friends and family. Doing well on final exams. Seeing family members you haven't seen in a long time. Saying yes to every invitation and demand on your time. Also, extended time together allows more opportunities for emotions to rise to the surface. Here I share what I have found to be the most effective ways to reduce holiday stress, for my immediate family of six and beyond:
1. Set realistic expectations. Signing up for more commitments than you and your kids can reasonably handle is like buying a one-way ticket to unhappiness. Give everyone time to partake only in the opportunities that are the most special to everyone.
2. Communicate in advance about plans. Your kids are not mind readers. Particularly if they are older they will want to have time over the holidays to themselves or with friends. Explain to your kids which events, chores, etc. are expected and which are flexible. Leave open windows on the calendar for downtime, last minute fun plans, and your kid's engagements.
3. Be present. You'll enjoy holiday activities or events more if you give them your full attention. Stow your smartphone and be present.
4. Move. Get outside and walk, alone or with family and friends. You'll benefit from fresh air, quality time (if you choose to bring a buddy), and exercise.
5. Let your kids be. Holidays bring about a lot of shoulds...about what to wear, how to behave, what to give, etc. Allow your child to be whoever he or she currently is and not expect them to be who they once were or who you think they should be.
6. Be thoughtful. Remember how annoyed you feel when your relatives bring up that same embarrassing story about you every single year? Be thoughtful and refrain from doing the same to your kid. Childish nicknames and embarrassing stories, not to mention excessive lecturing and demands will result in stress and likely tantrums (from parties of all ages!). Think before you speak and apologize when necessary. You are still your child's most important role model.
7. Breathe. One of the best ways to work through stress is to breathe. So simple sounding, but true. When my children are crying and upset I take these moments to teach them to breathe. I do it with them (big breath in...deep breath out!) and they usually cheer up by laughing at me, but over time they have learned the concept of focusing on breathing to calm themselves down.
8. Let go of worry. It can be challenging, but the reality is that worrying doesn't actually accomplish anything positive. It only takes you away from the present moment. The moment you could be enjoying. Whether it's related to final exams or gift giving, encourage yourself and your kids to let go of worry.
Staying mindful and being happy in the present moment can help the whole family soak up the enjoyment that comes with the holiday season without getting bogged down by holiday stresses. The holidays should be about making good memories, not about making things perfect!
If you have other holiday stress relief tips, we'd love to hear them in the comments below!