The holiday season is fun, but stressful. From family gatherings to gifts under the Christmas tree- there is a lot of planning and preparation needed to keep your family running smoothly. Maybe you’re a single parent? The challenges during the holiday season might be even more stressful because you’re doing it all alone. It doesn’t have to be like this. There are many tips and suggestions to help you coast through the holidays with young children, and even enjoy them! Nothing is more special than seeing the Christmas excitement in your child’s eyes for the first time.
The American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a holiday stress poll in 2008. They found that more than 8 out of 10 Americans anticipate stress during the holiday season. Money can be a huge cause of stress. You may feel demands to purchase certain gifts or decorations, and of course, food. The poll also stated households with children were more likely to report anticipating stress during the holidays than those without children. Seems logical, right?
The APA also gave suggestions to help parents deal with holiday stress:
Set expectations. It’s important to talk to your kids about expectations for gifts and holiday plans. Be honest with them if money is an issue. This could even be an opportunity to talk to your children about the importance of being responsible with your money. Of course, if your children are too young to understand this, they might not even notice the lack of gifts or lack of name brands.
Keep things in perspective. It’s not all about keeping up with the Jones’. Avoid blowing events out of proportion and teach your children how to keep things in perspective as well.
Make connections. Good relationships with family and friends are very important. Try to view the holidays as a chance to reconnect with your loved ones. If your family or friends offer to help care for your children, accept. It can help alleviate stress.
Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs. Ever heard the saying, ‘If momma ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy’? There seems to be some truth in that.
It’s important to remember the reason for the holiday season. Even if you’re not religious, this can be a great time of reflection and thankfulness for you and your children. Remember, you do NOT have to do it all. Let go of the desire for perfection and soak up some of the magical anticipating your children are feeling.
If you want to volunteer somewhere or give back to the community, there are many opportunities throughout November and December. The Lennon Pregnancy Center holds a Christmas store for all clients enrolled in parenting classes. We always encourage volunteers to come and help run it. Consider taking your children, if they are of age, to a soup kitchen to help someone else. Bake a pie and bring it to a neighbor. The holidays don’t have to be stressful, they can be a time of teaching!