5 Planning Steps and Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Break
When kids are out of school, schedules are outside of their normal routines, and family gatherings are on the horizon... it can absolutely trigger a bit (to say the least) of stress. Of course Fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas breaks can be a wonderful time to create memories with your family, but a little planning ahead can go a long way in order to keep the stress of it all at bay. We've detailed 5 steps and tips you can use to prepare for the holiday break with your family, and help you find the enjoyment and rest you deserve!
Call the gathering whatever you'd like, but create a conversation for everyone in your family to pick one thing that is the most important to them to have during the Holiday break. Then, work together to help accommodate (or compromise on) everyone's individual desires.
Having all parties involved (in this case parents/caregivers, and children) feel seen and heard is not only a key piece to making the holidays extra special, it's also just good communication skills for life. If you gather the family and make the time to ask each person "what is the most important thing for you to experience or accomplish during the holiday break?" -- you will not only have a better chance of creating a peaceful atmosphere at home, but you can also preemptively compromise on things that aren't necessarily an option. (ie: "We won't be able to go to Disneyland, so what is something in our city that would be exciting to see or do?" You can also provide ideas to help find compromises that work for your family!)
Establish Some Ground Rules
Get everyone on the same page by sitting down with your family and establish a few ground rules. The idea is that the more places you can preemptively create structure, the less stress you'll deal with in real time. This can be anything from:
- Setting a budget for gift giving around the holidays
- Deciding how many days everyone will spend together
- Communicating bedtime/screen time/wake up time expectations (even if you're planning on being flexible and letting the kids decide, communication is key!)
- Mapping out what returning to school will look like (ie: what needs to be taken care of before the return like homework, supplies, etc)
Create a Holiday Schedule
Again, getting everyone on the same page is key. By creating a holiday schedule, you can help ensure that everyone knows what to expect during the break. This would be things like planned activities (if any), days where you'll be traveling, family gatherings, etc. Creating a holistic view on what will be happening during the break can help avoid any last minute scrambling or conflicts over plans. (Pro Tip: keep a short list of important dates, places, and times on the fridge in large print so the whole family can see -- and be sure to mention them at the "family meeting")
Set Aside Some "Me" Time
It's important that you take some time for yourself during the holiday break. We know it's challenging, but the key to keeping your cool is to preemptively create space for rest and relaxation. Whether it's getting a manicure, reading a chapter of a book, 15 minutes of meditation/yoga, or going for a long walk, make sure to schedule in some time to do something that you enjoy. This will help you recharge and be ready to fully enjoy the break with your family.
It can be tempting to try and cram in a million different activities during the holiday break, but this will only lead to more stress. Choose a few events or activities that you really want to do and focus on those. Trying to do too much will only leave you feeling frazzled and stressed out. And for turning down any invites that you jut can't squeeze in, here are a few phrases (sourced from the Spruce) to keep on hand!
- "It was nice of you to think of us, but I'm afraid we'll have to take a rain check. We're already scheduled for another event. But let's look at our calendars and see if there's a free date for dinner or a movie."
- "I'm afraid we'll be traveling that day, so we won't be able to accept your invitation. Another time, maybe?"
- "Thanks for thinking of me. But unfortunately, we have family plans, so the timing doesn't work. But let's find another date to get together."
Although the holidays can be a time of stress for some, with a little planning and these tips, you can enjoy your holiday break to the fullest. Take some time for yourself, spend time with loved ones, and savor all the good things the season has to offer. I hope these tips help you have a happy and healthy holiday season!