The holiday season is upon us, which can only mean one thing for busy parents all over the country: stress, anxiety, and busyness. What was once an exciting and enviable time of year during your younger years has quickly morphed into an overwhelming, month-long period of non-stop activity. The question is, does it have to be this way?
8 Tips for a Happy, Stress-Free Holiday Season
Between family gatherings, holiday parties, gift buying, traditions, unforeseen expenses, requesting time off from work, travel, and finding childcare for the kids while they’re out of school, the holiday season is easily one of the most stressful periods of time for young families.
If you’ve had enough of the stress and anxiety that comes between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, then maybe you should switch things up. Here are some practical tips you can implement to enjoy a happier, less stressful holiday season this year (and every year).
1. Get Rid of Expectations
Perhaps the biggest issue with the holiday season – from a stress perspective – is that there are so many expectations from everyone involved. By letting go of expectations, you can opt for gratitude instead of stress. American Addiction Centers reminds us that:
- The holiday season happens no matter what and stress doesn’t improve the experience.
- By letting go of expectations, you make room for new experiences and traditions.
- By focusing on gratitude, the little things become just as important as the big things.
Getting rid of expectations is easier said than done, but the more you consciously deal with this issue, the easier it gets.
2. Dole Out Responsibilities
Who says you have to be the one in charge of the holiday season in your family? It should be a group effort. Instead of bearing the burden of scheduling, cooking, buying gifts, and planning your child’s break from school, dole out responsibilities to each member of the family. There are age-appropriate things everyone can do; stop trying to micro-manage every last detail.
3. Spend the Holidays at Home
Do you typically travel during the holiday season? While visiting family can be nice, it’s also guaranteed to be stressful. Between packing, traveling, and spending time in someone else’s home, it’s all a bit much.
Who says you can’t spend the holidays at home this year? There’s something to be said for staying home and maximizing the time you have. Some of your family members might be disappointed, but you can’t control that. Be as polite as you can, but be firm in your decision.
4. Shop Ahead of Time
If you’re like most people, one of the worst things about December is Christmas gift shopping. Not only is it expensive when you have lots of people on your list, but you also have to deal with crowded malls and sold-out items. Want to avoid this stressful aspect of the holiday season? Shop ahead.
Shopping ahead not only allows you to spread out your spending and pay cash for everything, but it also lets you avoid the shopping rush. Buy items throughout the year and stash them in your closet. Come mid-December, all you have to do is wrap the items while watching terrible Hallmark movies.
5. Ditch Technology
One of the good things about the holiday season is that you get to see people you haven’t seen in awhile. Between family gatherings and holiday parties, it’s an excellent time for reconnecting and enjoy the company of others….unless you’re tethered to a screen the whole time.
If you want to have an enjoyable holiday season, ditch your devices and unplug. If you can’t literally ditch your phone, delete the apps you check most often. “Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, whatever your go-to app is, delete it,” Global Reach suggests. “You can always download it again later. Invest in some face-time with the people around you.”
6. Order Food
Home cooked meals are a hallmark of the holiday season, but don’t feel the pressure to cook dozens of casserole and desserts. Nobody is going to judge you for ordering food or having a meal catered. It allows you to actually enjoy the company of others, without worrying about burning the ham.
7. Create New Traditions
In many families, there’s a sort of internal pressure to do the same thing every year. Holiday traditions become sacred and switching things up can often feel like an abomination. However, don’t be afraid of creating new traditions when old ones are simply too stressful. You might discover that you actually like them.
8. Spend Time Giving
The final suggestion is to spend time giving. When you give your time, money, or resources during the holiday season, you automatically shift the focus away from yourself and towards someone or something else. Naturally, this relieves stress and forces you to put your priorities in the right place.
Give Yourself Permission to Relax
As a parent, it’s easy to feel guilty during the holiday season. You see what all of your friends are doing and think to yourself, “My kids deserve that, too.” But it’s time to stop judging the “success” of your holiday season by how many things you do or how many presents you buy.
A memorable holiday season involves spending time together and cherishing the things you hold dear. Give yourself permission to relax and you might even find enjoyment in the holiday season once again.