(Family Features) A parent’s to-do list grows by the hour during the holiday season. The list goes on, often feeling unconquerable, with planning holiday dinners and get-togethers, decorating the house, shopping for gifts, keeping the kids active during winter break, wrapping, cooking, cleaning and more.
It’s arguably the busiest time of year, and it can easily leave you feeling stressed and frantic, consequently affecting your mental well-being during what is supposed to be the most magical time of year.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to maintain some calm during the holiday circus. For example, the American Psychological Association reports that two-thirds of Americans agree periodically “unplugging” is important for their mental health.
Since so much holiday shopping is done online, it may be unlikely you’ll ever put your phone down between now and the new year. If you can’t unplug completely, use your technology wisely.
Instead of checking social media when you find a few spare minutes, download a meditation or relaxation app and use that precious time to take a few deep breaths and refocus. Many apps even allow you set reminders to breathe or relax throughout the day.
Dr. Sheethal Reddy, a working mom of a 3-year-old boy and 8-month-old girl, is preparing to celebrate her first holiday as part of a family of four. As the clinical psychologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life, Reddy offers these tips to parents to help manage stress during the holiday season:
- Stick to your child’s schedule as much as possible. It’s OK to relax the rules a little bit during the holidays, but kids still need structure around meals and bedtimes. Too much stimulation and not enough rest can lead to meltdowns at the most inopportune times.
- Be intentional and prioritize what’s important. Decide what memories you want to make this season and make sure to plan those events in advance.
- Involve your kids in holiday planning. Let them help wrap presents (or at least put on the bows), cook a dish for the family or decorate part of the house. They are more likely to let you finish a task if you engage them in it, too.
- Send the kids out. Sometimes you do need a few minutes of quiet, which can be hard in a house full of kids. Set up a play date or have them stay at a friend’s house for a few hours, but don’t forget to return the favor.
- Remember that especially when children are involved, things may not go as planned. Be kind to yourself and avoid beating yourself up for things you didn’t do or that didn’t go exactly as you wanted. Simply focus on enjoying the season and making memories with your family.
Explore more ideas for keeping the season fun and memorable for you and your little ones at strong4life.com.
Photo courtesy of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life