Here we are once again, that frenzied time between Thanksgiving and the holidays. If you happen to have a loved one with a birthday during this time, well, there’s that, too. Shopping, baking, visiting, more shopping, entertaining – oh, and that job thing. Online shopping is an amazing modern-day invention for busy parents. Purchasing gift cards to make holiday shopping easier? Yes, please.
The busyness of the holidays can be quite stressful. No, it is more than that. The busyness of the holidays can add an amazing amount of stress on otherwise perfectly laid-back people.
What is the saying? “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?” As parents, we certainly do not want to be the one causing people around us to become crabby, especially with Santa watching and all. In fact, Santa is not the only one watching and keeping tabs; our children are as well.
Modeling positive, healthy coping strategies during particularly demanding circumstances, such as the holidays, will benefit your children as they cope with their own stressors – and trust me, they have stressful moments as well.
What parents should do to model positive behavior:
- Avoid alcohol. Drinking to alleviate anxiety and stress does not resolve problems. There are healthier options. Besides, you don’t want your children to depend on alcohol when coping with their troubles, do you?
- Exercise. Keeping up with your regular exercise routine (you have one, right?) releases endorphins to help counter-balance the unusually high levels of adrenaline soaring through your body as you juggle a gazillion projects. Exercise will help relax you, believe it or not.
- Hang with friends. Spending time with friends allows you to connect and laugh your cares away, even for a short time.
- Eat healthy. Keeping up a proper diet with fruits, vegetables, and protein with help you stay energized, help you avoid colds and flu, and help you avoid those special holiday handles that develop on one’s hips from too many cookies.
- Find time to relax as a family. Take time to sit by the fire and watch a holiday movie or read together. The holidays are a magical time. The memories you build with your children will last them a lifetime – especially when they have their own children and begin holiday traditions.
- Adopt a family. Teach your children to appreciate their blessings. Help them to understand the holidays are a time for giving and caring for others. You will be surprised how excited your children will be to shop for a local Giving Tree. Alternatively, make a monthly commitment to volunteer at an organization of special interest to your family: pet shelters, homeless shelters, food delivery for housebound individuals.
What parents really do.
- Drink. Let’s face it, those festive Christmas toddies are pretty enticing. A lovely glass (or bottle) of wine while wrapping gifts does make the experience a little easier to endure.
- Skip the workouts. Seriously? Time to workout? Are you kidding me? Unless it involves cookies afterwards, it is probably not going to happen.
- Hang with friends. Yes, that we can do. As long as it involves coffee or wine. And cookies. Yes, cookies.
- Eat whatever is placed in front of us. Seriously – the food is so abundant and festive this time of year. Have you seen those cute little reindeer cookies? Besides, a new year is around the corner: New Year, New Me, New Habits.
- Find time to relax as a family. But first I need to wrap this gift and make the cookies.
- Adopt a family. Adopt a very small family this year.
As you can see, reality can be a far cry from ideal. Isn’t life always like that? Find some balance. Schedule a short run or walk with friends and enjoy a cup of coffee and a cookie afterwards. Share your holiday anxieties with one another – just talking it out will alleviate some strain. Engage your children in food preparation and holiday shopping. As a family, wrap gifts for faraway friends and family while watching Christmas Vacation. It is okay to enjoy one or two glasses of wine or hot toddies; you are modeling responsible drinking. Parenthood is not sainthood.
Take a deep breath an enjoy the moments. Lessen the frantic and make more magic – that is what your kids will remember. Trust me on this one.
Now, where did I put that wrapping paper…..