The holiday season is upon us and for many parents this is a time of joy, but also great stress. Stress over finances, stress over all the things that they need to get done, stress about spending time with extended family, stress over traveling, and so on. During this busy season it is important to remember to slow down and foster some family connection with our children.
Children remember the quality time that we spend with them over the things we do for them. Connection and bonding are the reason for that. There are added benefits to spending quality time with your children as well. Children whose parents spend quality time with them have an increased sense of self-worth which raises their self-esteem. We want the holidays to be special for our children, and there is definitely something to be said about having family traditions like a special meal for Thanksgiving or other seasonal traditions. Getting stressed out about creating those things is not worth it though because, in the long run, what is most important to our children is the time spent with us.
So, here are some ideas for ways to reduce your stress and increase your connection with family this holiday season.
One of the major contributors of stress is a lack of organization and poor time management. When we see our to do list growing and our time frame to accomplish things getting shorter, it increases our stress levels. Some of this is inevitable, however, by being organized and managing your time wisely, you can decrease the amount of stress you put on yourself. Figure out what can be made or done in advance and take the time to slowly accomplish things rather than waiting until the last minute and rushing to complete everything.
Ask “do I really need this?”
Asking yourself this question can allow a weight to be lifted when you find that the answer is “no.” We put a lot on ourselves as mothers because we want everything to be nice and perfect for our loved ones. This often means we go above and beyond, which isn’t a bad thing if you aren’t stressed out about it. But, if it is causing unnecessary stress then ask yourself, “is it worth it? Do I really need this?” For example, I try to do up the holidays like they were at my grandparent’s house when I was a kid. But they had three or four people contributing to the smorgasbord. I was one person trying to cook and bake like 4. So last year, I let the cookies go. And you know what? Nobody missed them. They ate pie and eclair dessert and were perfectly content. And I was less stressed as a result.
Don’t break the bank for the holidays.
This is a hard one because we want the holiday season to be nice for our families. We want the big meals, we want the smiles and joy as our kids see the mountain of presents. It feels good to make others happy but, it doesn’t feel good to be stressed about your finances because of it. There are a few ways you can approach this tip.
First, you can start your shopping early so that the money spent is spread out; and I don’t just mean for gifts. Even meal shopping can be spread out depending on what you need to pick up. Each week you can add something to your list. One week it’s poultry seasoning, the next week it is flour, the next week it’s stuffing ingredients, the next week is the cranberry sauce, etc.
The next way to approach this is to shop deals whenever you can. Many people choose to shop for the holidays on Black Friday but you can find good deals all the time if you pay attention.
Lastly, set a budget and stick to it. Furthermore, make sure that the budget you set is one you feel comfortable with.
Make time for family connection with your children.
This is so important and there are a variety of ways which you can do this. First, involve them in what you are doing. If you have to do some baking, make it a family event. This will make your child feel special and it crosses something off your to do list. If you need to wrap presents, have them help with ones to extended family or put them in charge of writing the name tags. My family always loved seeing a 3 or 4-year-old write their name. No, you couldn’t fit who it was “from” on the tag, but I think it was pretty obvious, haha.
Create family traditions that focus on spending time together. It doesn’t have to cost money either. It could be driving around to look at Christmas lights, or watching a seasonal movie together, or enjoying a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows. It could be making up names for the Thanksgiving turkey, or watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, or building a gingerbread house together (you don’t have to bake it yourself if you don’t want to, they sell kits for those who don’t feel up to baking).
Play seasonal games together. I have a Halloween matching game that gets played probably 100 times during the month of October, and we also have one for Christmas too. This is one of things my daughter is most excited for when we break out the decor.
Read holiday themed books together. You can visit the Nashville Public Library either in person, or checkout an ebook, to find a wide variety of children’s holiday books. Read one a night or once a week, either way it is a great way to spend time together while also encouraging their literacy skills.
There are hundreds of opportunities throughout our day to make connections with our children. They don’t all have to be activities that require carving out an hour of our time. Simple things like smiles, hugs, kisses, and positive conversations can all be done easily if we make the choice to do them. Dance parties or singing songs while cooking, making sure that you are having your meals together as a family, and putting technology off limits, for both your child and yourself, can increase the quality time spent together, minimize your stress levels, and promote a feeling of family connection this holiday season, and beyond.