‘Tis the Season to be…Stressed?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…so they say. But ask any mom out there and you might get a different answer. Along with the joy, tradition and magic, the holidays can be overwhelming and stressful. Ever notice your head spinning at the very thought of cookie exchanges, holiday performances, parties, and the ever long list of presents to buy? I sometimes look at my mile long to do list and want to hide under the covers until the new year.

This time of year can push us into over drive. We want to find the perfect gift for our kids, nieces, nephews and our great Aunt Suzie. We want to make sure our kids get to experience everything the season has to offer. But is that what is really important? After all, when we look back we want to remember the times we spent with our family and friends and not necessarily the late nights staying up individually wrapping candy canes for the school party.

Tips to making your Holiday more Enjoyable:

Just say NO – RSVPing YES to every invite and volunteering for every school activity might just push you – and your child – over the edge. Decide about priorities with time and money. Don’t feel obligated to attend everything or to purchase everything your child asks for. The emphasis should be quality over quantity. You will enjoy your neighbor–s cookie exchange more if you don–t have to worry about rushing off to the next thing. And you–ll be teaching your child important values by being selective about gifts.

Carve out Space – This is not only important for you it is important for your children. Make a conscious effort to schedule in down time. If you have a holiday party during the day, make it a point to all stay in that night for pizza and a movie. If you are spending the day shopping for presents take the evening to just enjoy a fire and read a book.

Keep it simple – It is all too easy to go overboard. Baking cookies, making homemade gifts, wrapping each present with a decorative ornament. This year, create traditions of simplicity. Give yourself permission to let go of some demands. If your gift from a store can be wrapped there – great! Maybe your tradition can be for the kids to put a couple of fun stickers on the store wrapped gift. If you want a tradition of baking from scratch, make sure it–s a simple and fun recipe. This is not the time of year to make it difficult with all the things you have on your plate.

Reason for the Season – Focus on what the holidays represent for you. If family time is the most important then make sure the things you commit to stay in sync with that. If you want to help your children build compassion, find some simple ways to share. This will provide you with a feeling of being more fulfilled and less pulled in multiple directions. If we don’t take a moment to take a breath and sit down during this crazy time of year, we not only wear ourselves out we miss out on what is special about it. Try to focus this holiday on what really matters: family, friends, quality time and love. After all, what you want to look back on in many years is a holiday filled with memories of your children snuggled up beside you reading your favorite holiday book or the laughter you shared with a friend during a gift exchange or the sweet moment of thanks expressed between teacher and student…because it really is the little things. Wishing you and yours a holiday filled with mindful moments of calm and fun.

Vicki Chiang, Psy.D. (PSY21136) is a licensed clinical psychologist at theInstitute for Girls’ Development in Pasadena, CA. She specializes in working with parents, children and immigrant families in her practice. She can be reached atvchiang@instituteforgirlsdevelopment.com.

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