A Parent's Guide to Managing Holiday Stress
According to a 2008 study by the American Psychological Association (APA), 8 out of 10 Americans feel some form of stress during the holiday season. People with children are even more likely to expect holiday stress.
Parents already juggle many responsibilities, and the extra items on holiday to-do lists may leave them feeling over-scheduled and stressed out. Add to that the potential stress of having your kids home for two weeks of winter break, and it's not surprising if you feel overwhelmed.
If you're one of those parents who is wondering what to do with their kids during this time, you are not alone. The good news is that this is an chance for kids to catch up on school work, be active and get involved in their community. It's also a time for them to rest and relax.
Here are some pointers for making the most of this time without getting stressed.
- Remember that you don't have to structure each day. You don't need to plan for each minute that your kids are home. Encourage them to make smart choices about how they use their time, such as reading a book or playing with friends, but don't feel responsible for their entertainment.
- Take a trip to the library or museum. If you have the time, devote an afternoon to an educational field trip. It can break up the monotony of being inside. At the library, your kids can choose books that they want to read to entertain themselves.
- Be social. Interacting with the same people for two straight weeks can understandably get on your nerves. Change that dynamic by having people over. A new face can lighten people's moods, especially if you're all feeling a bit stir-crazy.
- Let your kids play outside or at a community center. Weather permitting, it's great for kids to get outside. Bundle them up if it's cold. If it's nasty outside, see what kind of programs your community center offers during the holidays. Indoor sports classes are a healthy way for kids to blow off steam and be physically active. It also lets you have a few hours to yourself.
- Don't forget the homework. While many schools won't give homework during winter break, they may offer reading lists or activity ideas. If not, speak with your child's teacher for fun, productive ideas to help your child stay up to speed while at home.
- Play with your kids. It should be a holiday for everyone, and what better way to enjoy it than play time? Setting aside 30 minutes to play a board game will be fun for them and relaxing for you.
- Take time for yourself. Even harder than finding time for a game or trip to a museum is finding time for yourself. But parents need down time, too. While your kids are out playing, take a bath, meditate or work out. Or, if your kids sleep in late while they're on break, use this time for yourself.
- Don't feel guilty. It's okay if you find yourself wishing the kids were back in school – you are not alone. It's not easy having extra company around, so don't be hard on yourself.
Sources: American Psychological Association, Mayo Clinic