The holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for many of us, they can be challenging. Family conflicts, strained budgets, and physical exhaustion can all put a damper on holiday cheer. Here are a few tips to help avoid these pitfalls, and keep your family happy and healthy this season.
1. Spend quality time together as a family.
Quality family time increases children’s social skills, sense of self-worth, and improves family relationships. So use the holidays as an opportunity for your family to spend positive time together. Try doing fun activities like baking, decorating, or playing games. Or, start new family traditions (like a scenic hike or outdoor photo scavenger hunt) to create lasting memories you can rekindle every year. Even shopping can be a fun family outing. Just keep the trips brief and actively involve the kids in each task.
2. Pace yourself.
As a parent, it’s easy to get swept up in the fast pace of the holidays and lose sight of what’s most important—being available to enjoy the holiday with your family. Accept that you just can’t do it all, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Give yourself a break, relax, and take some time for yourself. This way, you can be sure that you’re refreshed and able to participate in the holiday activities with your family. The best present you can give your family is your presence.
3. Make time to give.
This time of year offers a perfect opportunity to teach children the importance of giving, and of thinking beyond their own needs and wants. Promote family togetherness and help your kids appreciate the act of giving back. Try making cards for a local hospital, donating coats or toys to children in need, collecting food for a local food bank or caroling at a local nursing home.
4. Try to maintain a routine.
Children thrive on routine, so abrupt changes in their schedules can lead to irritability, tantrums, or other problem behaviors. Consider how your child adapts to changes in routine when planning your schedule during the holiday break. Plan activities in advance so children know what to expect. Posting a calendar of upcoming events in a visible place can help keep your entire family on track.
5. Evaluate your values.
The holidays are also a good time to reflect on the values that you want to encourage in your kids. Show them the difference between monetary value and family values by explaining that while tangible gifts may vary from year to year, family togetherness and traditions remain constant. Make lasting memories for your family by upholding holiday traditions and creating new ones.
6. Don’t break your budget.
Many families are concerned about being able to buy the gifts on their children’s wish lists. Despite your best efforts, your children may be disappointed if they don’t receive the gift that they wanted. If this happens, allow your kids to express their disappointment, then validate their feelings and help them move on to another activity. This will allow your children to feel heard but send the message that there is more to the holidays than just receiving gifts.
7. Avoid over-scheduling.
Over-scheduling can take a physical and emotional toll on you and your children. Make sure your family has plenty of down time amidst all of the parties, traveling, and planning. Enjoy simple pleasures like cuddling with the kids on the couch while you watch a favorite holiday flick. Or, listen to seasonal music to lift the mood.
Remember, your holiday doesn’t have to be perfect. Try to focus on giving your children the things you know they truly need — quality time, family values, and meaningful traditions. Happy holidays!