December 07, 2010

Stress Free Holidays

This is time of year the family calendar tends to fill up quickly. On top of regular activities and commitments, any free time on evenings and weekends may be overloaded with parties, dinners, other social events, shopping, and possibly a school or religious program or two. You may find yourself thinking, “Just a month or two and this will pass.”

Parents often dream of giving their child(ren) the best or most memorable holiday. Sometimes we need to stop and ask ourselves, “What is the best? and What is the price?” Remember that the stress, excitement, and go, go, go feeling of the holiday season not only takes its toll on you, but also your family. Children will notice when you're stressed or tired. If you're not feeling best, your child may pick up this. If you're feeling irritable, chances are your child may get a case of his or her own grumpies.

Here are some tips that may be able to help your family ease through the extra stress of the season:
•Have limits. Keep in mind, when planning for the holidays, you should have limits or expectations of what will or will not happen. This includes all areas of holiday planning. If appropriate, set a budget for gifts. Let children know in advance what they can expect so there won't be any unrealistic requests.
•Don't spread yourself too thin. It's ok for you or your child not to be actively involved in everything the season offers. If there are certain things you enjoy, individually or as a family, make a list and plans to do these things. If you find your list getting too big or out of control, maybe alternate activities yearly. In addition, saying no to one or two activities a season does not make you a humbug.
•Keep the end in sight. You may feel like the stress is going to bring your holiday happiness to an end or that it will drag on forever. Keep in mind that all too soon, the season will be behind you and life will return to “normal”. Keep an eye on what's important now.

Similarly, keep an eye on your child. If you feel that you child is becoming overwhelmed by activity or just needs a little break go for it. The tears as a result of holiday breakdown, may just add more stress to an already hectic situation.
•Find a shoulder to lean on. Keeping in contact with family and friends may give you the extra support you need to make it though the season. You don't have to do it all on your own. Don't be afraid to delegate tasks or accept offers of assistance from those close to you. If grandma is willing to give you a hand with the little ones while you run to the grocery store, take her up on her offer. Alternate shopping days with a neighbor, so each may have time alone to run errands. Holiday baking can also offer a dose of much needed stress relief as you get together with “the girls (or guys)” and share recipes and laughter.
•Remember you. Most importantly this holiday season, don't forget about keeping track of you and your family. If you're feeling run down or irritable, find something to take your mind off of your stress. Take time for a relaxing bath, a cup of cocoa, or an hour on the treadmill. What ever you want, treat yourself to your own brand of stress relief.
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The same applies to your family. If your children are getting fussy at the holiday planning tasks, find something to lift their spirits. Stop what you're doing and make a quick holiday treat that involves everyone. Get down on the floor and play a game or color. Find an outdoor activity that the whole family enjoys and take the time to enjoy it. Do something fun and not related to your holiday tasks. •Don't worry about the “To Do” list. It will be there when you get back. If by chance an item gets overlooked, it probably wasn't worth the stress it was causing you anyway. Keep these things in mind through this holiday season and enjoy!

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