It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” – right? It can be. But in between the “ho, ho, ho’s” and the “happy new year’s” there can be a whole lot of stress for adults and kiddos. How can we make the most of the time we have with family and friends and keep things more ‘merry’ than ‘miserable’?
Here are a few tips to keep things joyful:
Decide what you really want.
Bottom line, how important is it to have a 5-course meal or to craft the perfect gingerbread house? If they are deal breakers for your holiday – then great. If not, pare things down and have a less Pinterest-worthy holiday! Opt for a simple holiday dinner or potluck party plans. Use that extra time to spend relaxing with your family, having a movie night, or playing games and sharing stories. Those are the things everyone will remember much more than the food or décor.
When you’re stressed, they’re stressed.
Kids pick up on our vibes. If we’re running at 100 miles an hour trying to put together the “perfect” holiday and we’re stressed to the teeth because of it? The holiday is not going to be “perfect” in their book. While your intentions are good, you’re actually creating more stress for your kids and you – not the merry memories you were hoping for. Step back, de-stress and give them the relaxed, fun YOU!
Make it a team effort.
(Employ the ‘elves’!) You know everyone can be part of the party planning and execution. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. You might be surprised at how much our kids can pitch in – and even more surprised when they get to feel empowered by having the chance to be part of the process. Even little ones can help fold napkins or place dinner forks on the table, or help decorate for company. Make a list and check it twice and give everyone a part of the plan. That old saying, “many hands make light work” is gold during the holidays. Try it! And when guests call to say, “What can I bring?” Tell them! They’ll be happy to contribute to the table and to the celebration.
Keep some sleep in the schedule.
It’s easy to find yourself and your kids dashing from one place to another during this time of year. As much as possible though, keep kids to their normal sleep routine. (Their bodies don’t know the difference between a holiday night and any other night!) Keeping to regular bedtimes will help stave off sleep-deprived crankiness (for them and you)!
Have some back-up plans.
You know your child’s attention span better than. If you have to attend a party or pageant or any holiday activity that will push the limits for your child, have back-ups ready. Coloring books, a small toy – something they enjoy that will help distract them in the interim and keep melt-downs to a minimum.
Count your blessings.
Each and every one and encourage your children to do the same. When the eggnog is gone and the fruitcake is safely stored wherever fruitcake goes after the holidays, it’s not about the bows or boxes or whatever was in them. It’s about family. And friends. And laughter. And the gifts of each other’s time and love in our everyday lives. Is that a little sappy? Absolutely. But can you think of a better gift than laughter or the sweet joy between you and your kids? Me either.
Wishing you an extra happy holiday season from our home to yours!
TODAY Parenting Contributor, Amy McCready is the Founder of PositiveParentingSolutions.com and the author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World