Committee for Children Blog

Holiday Stress Buster


Even with all the joy and celebration, the holidays can be a stressful time due to the energy and time we invest in shopping, preparing meals, traveling, and finding the right gifts for the special people in our lives. There is so much to enjoy during the holidays, but if parents don’t practice mindfulness and keep a healthy perspective on what really matters, our precious holidays can turn into a serious disaster. Here are a few tips to get more of what you want from your family's time together.

Maintain Routine

Holidays are often filled with vacations, family traditions, special occasions, and lots of fun. While we want to enjoy these special times, set your kiddos up for success by being mindful of their usual routines. Children thrive in their daily routine. From wake-up until bedtime, the more a child can predict about their day, the greater their comfort and ease. Children often feel anxious or stressed when they are out of their usual routine, leading to more meltdowns and misbehaviors. To minimize this, give your child lots of notice about travel, changes in schedule, and new people and places. In addition, try to maintain the parts of your child’s routine that you can, particularly nap times and bedtimes. Enjoy the holidays by preparing your child for fun, and remember to be compassionate if their behavior is different than usual.

Keep Expectations Realistic

Another way to alleviate stress and anxiety while planning for the holidays is to plan and accept that something will go wrong. Having very rigid plans and expectations for the holidays can often be a recipe for disappointment and heightened holiday stress. Holiday meals may not come out the way you plan them, there may be a tantrum or two (or 20), and people may be disappointed by the gifts they receive. Being prepared for unforeseen events can help reduce stress.

Time is also an important factor in maintaining realistic expectations. It can be helpful to overestimate the time needed rather than underestimate it, so that there is room for “something” to happen that was not on the agenda.

Creating a holiday mantra is a great way to keep grounded and focused on what really matters to you and your family during the holiday season. One example might be, “As long as we’re together, that is all that matters!” And know that if you try to do too much, you and your children will probably be too exhausted to enjoy everything.

Incorporate Self-Care

Who says the holidays are just for kids? The holidays are a special time for everyone, including those taking care of kids. Make sure your needs are considered during this holiday season. Most adults do a great job of scheduling activities for the family, but they forget to schedule time for themselves.

If you want to enjoy this time with the kiddos in your life, your physical and emotional tank needs to be filled and maintained. Scheduling a coffee or meal with a friend, some exercise, yoga, or mindfulness practice, or just time to read or relax can make a world of difference. And if you are in a relationship, don’t forget your partner—a date night can help keep you and your partner on the same page and feeling connected while navigating the holiday hustle and bustle. These short periods of self-care will go a long way when trying to maintain the busy pace of the holidays.