With the holidays approaching, many of us are looking forward to a more normal holiday season. Thoughts of family gatherings, gift giving, and matching pajamas for the whole family are floating through our minds. And, usually, right after those thoughts, we think about lengthy to-do lists, calendars full of holiday obligations, and over-tired kids.

So, as you plan for the holidays this year, here are some ideas for a less stressful and more enjoyable holiday for all:

Routines: Ever wonder why your kids are cranky, irritable, stubborn, and prone to tantrums during the holidays? When holiday obligations start to pile up, our routines can be the first thing to go. Maybe bedtime will need to be pushed back some nights, but follow the same routines whenever possible. Even a shortened version of the same events that you do every night can help to bring calm and comfort to a busy season.

Get Comfortable Saying “No:” We have all tried to figure out how to break the time-space continuum to attend four family events in one day, but we can set boundaries and say “no.” The holiday brunch at Aunt Ida’s might be a must-do, but maybe the dessert exchange at Cousin Cheryl’s could be skipped. You just might find that not attending every invite that comes your way leaves you (and your kids) more time to enjoy the ones you do attend.

Prepare: That to-do list might feel never ending, but what can you do now to alleviate the busy weeks ahead? Can you pick up the dry-cleaning on the way to the carpool line? Can you join a cookie-op so that you don’t have to bake all the cookies yourself? Looking for ways to get more done and having a list that helps you to keep track will help you accomplish more this holiday season.

Prioritize: What really is most important to you this holiday season: A family day at home in pajamas? A visit with relatives that you don’t regularly see? Whatever it is that means the most to you, calendarize it to make sure that you can accomplish it.

Plan for the New Year: The holiday break can offer us a unique time to look ahead and think about the kind of things we might want to change in the New Year. Want to start reading 10 minutes a night with your little one? Use this time to get a few books ready and let your child know that that’s going to become part of your evening routine.

Remember, when you are overwhelmed, nothing is fun, but the holidays can be a season of joy instead of a season of stress. Hold your boundaries and embrace the things that really matter to you this holiday season, whatever they may be, because making memories is what really counts. 

Written by:

Katelyn Collins