Everyone complains about how stressful holidays are: between shopping, wrapping gifts, hosting extended families, cooking, and visiting, the hustle and bustle of the holidays are often more of a headache than it is a time of peace and joy.
Unfortunately, we can pass along that stress to our kids. This article offers a few simple suggestions on ways to choose activities that will be more relaxing while allowing you to set traditions that can last for generations.
Look at the holidays with a child’s eyes
Remember how magical the holidays used to be when you were a kid? Slow down and see the holidays through the little ones’ eyes. The only thing more fun than anticipating Santa’s visit is being Santa. You’re not just putting presents under the tree: you’re making magic.
Less is more
Keep things simple. Limit the number of shopping trips or visits to relatives. We often feel obligated to attend every event, reciprocate every gift, and send every card. Reduce the shopping list–much of the stress we feel is focused on the financial strain the holidays put on us. So do less, buy less. Make it more about sharing than spending.
Include the kids
Do you have dozens of cards to mail? Presents to wrap? Cookies to bake? You have built-in Santa’s helpers. Let them stuff the envelopes and stick on the stamps to the cards. If you have beginning readers, you can make a game of them guessing whose name is on the envelope: “Yes, that is for Aunt Carol!” Teach them your unique technique for creating beautiful bows. And while it may take longer to have a pre-schooler measuring flour while you make the pies, slowing down to treasure the holiday is what the season is supposed to be about.
Invent your own traditions
If you feel like the annual rituals are more of a slog than a joy, maybe rethink your activities and create your own. Bake a dish that is unique to you. Play a favorite classic movie that you only watch once a year. Whatever you do, you are making a family tradition that your children will remember their whole lives–and who knows, maybe it’s a tradition they’ll pass down to their own children.