by Julia H.
At this point in December, there's a part of my brain that looks at my to-do list and just emits a high-pitched whining sound that threatens never to stop from the sheer number and complexity of things I have on my plate. Knowing that, once the school break starts, I will have something like zero sane, quiet hours in which to accomplish those tasks only serves to exacerbate the state of mental disequilibrium until I am seriously tempted to build a couch cushion fort and hide inside in a fist-clenched holiday panic.
My own internal response might be a little more dramatic than yours, but a lot of parents and caregivers do get stressed around the winter holidays...and that's okay and reasonable! We are allowed to experience the full range of emotions! If, however, the stress threatens to overwhelm you, here are some things that might help you slow down a little.
It is okay (and even good) for kids to be bored! While they may complain for a while, usually if you leave them to their own ideas, they will eventually come up with some creative and imaginative play - exactly the sort of unstructured free play that helps with so many areas of cognitive development.
It helps to lower your expectations. Are there any items on your to do list that are especially causing you worry? Can you...and I know this sounds crazy, but...can you just skip it? Or maybe scale it down a little? Maybe hard-to-shop-for Aunt Linda gets a gift card or an invitation to a family dinner in January. Maybe you can choose not to decorate your house this year. Chances are, if you are experiencing a lot of anxiety over a particular task, it can be toned down, modified, or delegated to someone who loves that sort of thing (and I will totally shop for Aunt Linda if you need someone!).
- Your kids can help more than you think! This is especially true if you are willing to factor in the expectation-lowering from step 2. Sending holiday cards? Holy moly, you really are on top of things! Your kids can stuff the envelopes, stick or tape printed labels to envelopes, and apply stamps! Decorating for the holidays? They can hang ornaments, make and hang paper garlands, cut out paper snowflakes, etc. Thinking about all the different steps involved in achieving a particular holiday task goal can help you find elements that are kid-friendly.
- It's okay to ask for help! Sometimes there is one stubborn item on the to-do list that just resists completion because it's simply impossible to do without help. Maybe that help is in the form of asking someone to hang with your kids for an hour, seeing if a neighbor can put up hooks for holding holiday decorations, or seeing if a friend who is heading to the post office can put your packages into the outgoing mailbox. Regardless of how it manifests, asking for help doesn't mean that you failed somehow! It just means you found a method to get things done that worked for you and your family, and that's awesome!
Have any other holiday tips? Send them to me, and you might be featured in a future Weekly Squeak! (Bonus request: have a favorite holiday song? I'm building a holiday playlist for my kids and would love to include your favorites!)