You know how the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can leave your family feeling frazzled—a far cry from the peace-on-earth-promoting holiday specials showing continuously on television. Kids, in particular, are exceptionally sensitive to holiday stress. They are also adept at picking up on and mimicking their parents' mood swings.
To keep your little one holly-jolly this holiday season, try these 8 stress-busting tips:
Don’t wait for a meltdown. If your child gets a little fussy, take a break. Go into a quiet room or divert your child's attention by singing a holiday carol. It’s easier to settle kids who are just starting to get uncomfortable than those in the middle of a full-blown tantrum.
Give kids a place to unwind. If your household is a boiling cauldron of activity this season, make sure your child has a place to go to escape the commotion. Set up a "comfort zone" in a quiet room and decorate it with your child's favorite stuffed toys, blankets and other comforting objects.
Keep kids involved. Keep your little elves busy by having them help address cards, bake cookies for the party, set up candles or create a handmade gift for the party host. (holiday craft ideas)
Set up rules ahead of time. Before you go anywhere—whether it's a holiday party or the mall—tell your kids what you expect from them. You might say, "You can only have one dessert at the party," or "We're going shopping, but we're not going to buy any toys for you today. We're buying gifts for your brother and sister, and I really need you to help me pick them out."
Keep up routines. With so much going on, it's hard to make sure kids go to bed, eat dinner or do homework at a regularly scheduled time. Still, structure is very important to kids, and the more routines they have, the better they’ll handle the excitement of the season.
Have kids create family traditions. Children have boundless imaginations, so ask them to come up with a holiday-related activity that the entire family can enjoy. Start by asking them what they liked about past holidays and what new things they’d like to try this year. If your little ones are stumped for ideas, offer activities that promote peace and unity, such as having your family light a candle and be silent together for five minutes every night in December. Calming traditions like this one will help soothe kids when their routines are upended. (See Adopting Memory-Making Holiday Traditions
Set realistic goals. Do you need to deck the halls perfectly in order to enjoy the holiday season? Remember: you're not trying to make the cover of "Better Homes and Gardens," so don't fry yourself over hanging the perfect lights or meeting unrealistic expectations. Decorate symbolically—use a few window candles and some pine or cinnamon potpourri. You’ll feel less stressed and show your child that the little things are what’s great about the season.
Do less. Remember that less is more. One of the easiest ways to keep your child stress-free is to make sure you’re not stressed out. Decide what’s really important to you this holiday season and make that your priority. If Christmas cards are a huge project that proves more burdensome than fun, send out greeting cards in July when you can really spend some time on them—your equally busy friends and family will thank you.
Make the holidays a family affair with these seasonal crafts, recipes and activities:
13 Great Gifts Your Kids Can Make
Crafty Mom Archive