Do you feel like you do not have time to get everything done this holiday season? Do you feel stressed, alone, and unnoticed? Will you spend Christmas Eve locked in your bedroom trying to finish the wrapping? We want you to know you are not alone. Here are eight of our best tips for keeping your sanity during the holiday season.
1. Don’t borrow stress
As we approach the holidays, do you find yourself secretly stressing about what others will think of your parenting or your home?
Are you stressed because you do not want to disappoint anyone?
You are not alone. The most common thing I hear from clients during the holidays is the stress of meeting other people’s expectations and the fear of being judged.
I often hear clients say, “I would feel guilty if I didn’t do such and such.” If this is you, ask yourself, “If I didn’t feel guilty, what decision would I make for myself and my family around the holidays?”
The goal is to notice what decisions you would make if negative emotions were not guiding you. Great work at noticing what you can!
If you can, allow yourself to make some of those decisions.
2. Let go of other people’s judgments
Are you worried about being judged during the holidays?
The holidays can bring us back to childhood, both the positive and the more challenging aspects.
What is hard is that others may not see how we have changed since childhood or certain family members may want to bring us right back into the same family drama that has existed since we were five years old.
At the start of the day, take a moment to ground and center yourself. Grounding is a simple exercise of noticing what is around you. Feeling your feet on the ground, pausing, looking around, and noticing something beautiful about your home can help.
Next, know that these upcoming days will not last forever. Trust yourself in knowing that it is OKAY to be yourself.
Parenting differently from your family and friends is also perfectly acceptable and normal. Research shows that there are many good ways to parent.
When you feel that sting of judgment coming your way, imagine you have a non-stick coating, and their judgment slides right off you.
When we allow other people’s judgments to come into our space, we may feel grumpier at our kids, spouse, and others. Take a moment, take a deep breath, and let those judgments slide right off.
We are often just as guilty of judging others around us for who they are and their parenting. If you can, take a vacation from judgment this holiday season. It is easy to judge someone else’s situation. We never truly know what is happening to that person and their inner struggles.
Let the judgment slide off you and offer others grace this holiday season.
It helps to find some moments to do what you want as a family this year.
3. Have boundaries
Know that you cannot please everyone. As hard as it is to hear, you will probably disappoint someone during this holiday season, including your kids. Let this be OK.
A boundary is what is OKAY with you and what is not OKAY with you.
Start by deciding what matters most to you this holiday season. Is it spending more time with your kids? Having everyone sit down for a meal? Unwrapping Christmas gifts together? Let what matters most be your guide on what to prioritize.
Once you set your priorities, communicate them and invite people to join you. Make the expectations clear. With adults, let them choose how they want to participate. You can only control how you communicate your needs and wants this holiday season. Allow others to share their needs and wants.
Then, look at what matters most to you and make that a priority. Allow others to join you.
Are you curious about how to have boundaries with your kids this holiday season? Check out this video by Dr. Willard, where she explains the art of having boundaries with your kids.
4. Spend quality time with your kids
With the business of the holiday, you may find yourself spending a lot of time with your kids. Your time together may be spent getting things done, being in the same room together, or running errands.
If you can, spend 20 minutes of quality time with your kids each day during the break. Quality time is dedicated time where you are focused on your child. Research shows the quality of time you spend with your child matters most.
Quality time looks like uninterrupted time where your focus is on your child. You may be engaged in a conversation where you are paying attention to what your child is saying, or you pick an activity to do with your child, and your focus is just on that activity and your child. During this time, phones and other distractions are put away and put on hold.
If you would like to learn more about quality time, check out this video by Dr. Kroncke.
5. Keep bedtime consistent
If your child is not getting enough sleep, it can increase meltdowns, temper tantrums, and unruly behavior.
During break, try to have your child go to bed within half an hour of their usual bedtime. If your child’s bedtime is 9 pm, the latest they should go to bed is 9:30 pm.
This schedule will also help your child stay within their natural sleep cycle.
The excitement of the holidays can make it hard for some kids to sleep. If this is your child, try a calm activity an hour before bed. Letting your child ease into bedtime will help your child’s body calm down and be ready for sleep.
6. Share the day’s schedule and expectations with your child
At bedtime, the night before, or first thing in the morning, share with your child what will happen during the day. Also, share what expectations you have for your child. Write this out and make it visual for your child.
During holiday breaks, your children may be able to play video games for longer periods of the day. You may also have pre-planned activities such as going to friends’ houses or Grandma’s.
Share with your child what the day will look like and what you need from your child. For example, if you want your child to clean their room and later in the day Grandpa is coming over, start with a first/then. Share with your child that to begin the day, everyone will be helping out with getting the house ready. Be specific about what tasks and chores you want your child to complete.
Share the day’s schedule with your child. Next, share with your child what you expect of them. For example, you would tell your child, “I expect you to have your room clean, then you can play video games or go to your friend’s house. A clean room means all your toys are off the floor and in the appropriate bins, your floor is clean, your bed is made, and you have swept the floor of your room.”
Then, share with your child that after their room is cleaned, they can have free time until 4 pm when their grandpa comes over. They will be expected to help with dinner and eat dinner with the family. When your children come to help with dinner, be explicit about what you expect of them.
Would you like to know how to get your child to finish unpleasant tasks? Check out this video by Dr. Kroncke.
Pro tip: If you are like most people, you may find yourself allowing your kids to have more unstructured time to watch screens, play video games, go to friend’s houses, etc. Let your child know the expectations for the day. If possible, have your child complete unpleasant tasks first and then allow them to move on to a more desirable task.
I also find it helps to let your child know if this particular day is special in how much time they get to have for leisure activities.
For example, when your child wakes up, you may say today is a free day. You let your child know how much time they can have for special activities and then let them know that this particular day is special, and on Tuesday, you will be back to earning screen time, etc.
7. Focus on gratitude
This focus on gratitude can be challenging for kids and adults. Although we hear constantly about the importance of gratitude, you may wonder, “Does it even work?”
Gratitude matters because our brains are wired to look for negativity. This wiring is called the negativity bias. Yes, you heard that right. We are designed to see the negative.
Because of this, 20 great things can happen in our day, and we will spend the day focused on the one thing that did not go our way.
Your kids are the same way. You may have cooked them a special meal, bought them their favorite toy, and allowed them to eat candy for breakfast, and here you are, listening to them cry over something trivial.
When your child is melting down, try this technique by Dr. Willard to keep your patience.
Spend some time thinking about the positive aspects of your day. You can include your kids in this activity by asking, “What were your favorite moments of the day?” Sometimes, I am surprised to hear what those special moments were.
Would you like to learn more about gratitude and why it works? Check out this video by Dr. Willard.
8. Have fun.
With the stress of the holidays, we can spend so much time just trying to get things done. If you are a mom reading this, have you ever seen the SNL skit about the Christmas robe? I found this to be hilarious and so true and fitting.
Make sure to take care of yourself and make time for fun. Just allow yourself and your kids to enjoy the time you have together. Not borrowing stress, letting go of people’s judgments, and keeping boundaries are a few ways to have more fun this holiday season.
Cadey is here to help
From everyone on the Cadey team to you and your family, we wish you the merriest of holidays.
Be sure to check in with the Cadey app for more parenting support. You can do it! Cadey is here to help.