MomTalk.com February 28, 2021:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more

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Holiday Stress: It's Not Just for Parents Anymore


Heather MacLeod, LICSW
Children's Physician Network

It's no secret that holidays can be stressful for adults: Family gatherings, elaborate meals, holiday shopping... It's often something we look forward to, only to suffer utter exhaustion when it's all over. So how can families help kids from becoming stressed and over-tired in the midst of all the typical festivities?

1. Plan ahead, but stay flexible. Believe it or not, holidays are not the time for big surprises. Unwrapping gifts is one thing, but a surprise cross-country trip is another: Knowing what to expect in general will reduce stress for everyone, especially children. Choose activities that you really want to do, and feel ok about saying "no" to everything else. But don't panic if some extra guests arrive to share the holiday meal or if you can't get that last gift put together before it's time to open it. Kids will follow your lead: If you stay relaxed, chances are they will too.

2. Stick to your normal routine as much as possible. Staying close to normal mealtimes and bedtimes (even if you're away from home) will help to make sure that the whole family is eating and sleeping well.

3. Schedule some quiet days close to home. Don't underestimate the power of having a day to stay home, sleep in, and play in your normal environment. Days like this can reduce the decathlon-like pace of the holiday season.

4. Let others help. For almost every holiday gathering you host, you'll have invitees calling to ask what they can bring. Divvying out side dishes, salads, and desserts can reduce the amount of stress for the hosting family. Or, if what you think you'll really need is for someone to look after your children for a couple of hours while you figure out how to quick-thaw the Thanksgiving turkey, consider asking someone to forego bringing a dish and instead come early to hang out with the kids so you'll have fewer distractions in the kitchen.

5. Keep your traditions, even if someone is absent. Some families will have a parent or family member overseas. Others may worry that the first holidays after the passing of a loved one will be difficult. Upholding family traditions - even when someone is missing - helps the whole family feel connected and provides reassurance to children (and adults) that even if some things have changed, others have stayed.

Editors note: Find more articles about the holidays on MomTalk.com

Categories: Family, Feature Stories, Newsletter,

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New FeatureRelated Articles: Easing Holiday Stress for Service Members, 10 Stress Management and Memory Improvement Tips,

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