Setting Limits to Minimize Holiday Stress

It’s that time of year, again – the holiday season! The most wonderful time of the year can quickly become the most stressful time of the year as we try to balance holiday parties, shopping for gifts, planning dinners, coordinating schedules, and so on. If we’re not careful, we can end up feeling like the Grinch by the time we reach the New Year. In order to ensure that the whole family has a joyous holiday season, it’s important to know our limits (because we all have them) and keep them in mind before we hit the ground running.

1.Know your budget limits! – When it comes to shopping, set a budget and make a list. Knowing what you’re going to buy the people on your list before you get to the mall will help you reign in your spending. Avoid the temptation to impulse buy that “perfect gift” for someone that you’ve already finished shopping for. (They probably don’t need it anyway.)

2. Know your time limits! – Make a list of what needs to get done and plan your time wisely. Spread it out so that you’re not scrambling to get things done at the last minute. Share the shopping list with your spouse.  Allow yourself to say “no” to invitations. (You are not obligated to attend every holiday party!) And remember that chores around the house are a great way to teach your kids responsibility.

3. Know your body’s limits! – Most of us push ourselves too far during the holiday season. More stress and less sleep. More sugar and less exercise. More running and less relaxing. Take care of yourself by maintaining a regular schedule and sticking to healthy habits. (You won’t do anyone any good if you end up sick and in bed for the holidays.)

4. Know your personal limits! – Don’t sweat the small stuff. The lights may not be perfectly hung. The gifts might not look like they were wrapped by a pro. Some of the cookies may have been bought in a store. (Gasp!) Give yourself a break and remember that you’re probably the only one that notices.

5. Know your child’s limits! – To minimize your child’s stress during the holidays, keep their schedule as normal as possible. Children thrive in familiarity. All the running around can interfere with their normal mealtimes, naptimes, and bedtimes and throw them into a tailspin. Whenever possible, plan your activities around their normal schedule. Let them know in advance if the evenings or weekends are going to look different for them.  And remember, if hours of shopping wipes you out, just imagine what it does to your child.  If possible, arrange other care for them when you’re going to be spending the day in lines at the mall. Most importantly, be sure you are intentional about setting aside time to focus on them so that they don’t feel lost in the craziness.

It may not be possible to avoid feeling a little bit more stressed this time of year but do yourselves and your family a favor and take whatever steps you can to maintain your sanity.  Then remember that what really matters is the time you get to spend with family and friends and the memories you will make.

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