The smart parents holiday survival guide

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... And if you're stressed out about the endless obligations, activities, events, shopping, wrapping, and more, have we got some help for you!

Just say no

People-pleasing is rife during the holidays, when you might feel like you need to accommodate everyone else in a show of Christmas spirit. Make it your goal to say no to at least one thing. That’s one less stress you’re taking on! (Feel free to say no more often once you get the hang of it.)

Cull the cards

Is your holiday card list longer and longer each year? Cut down on the number of season’s greetings you send out by only replying to those who send you a card – and wait until the New Year to do it rather than trying to fit everything into the pre-Christmas rush.

Get out of there

If family holiday meals degenerate into fighting and resentment over who does the dishes and who takes home the leftovers, consider going to Christmas lunch or dinner at a restaurant instead. There’s no prep or clean-up, and your family might just be on their best behaviour if they’re out in public

Think of the kids

Church services, concerts, holiday plays, recitals, and other events can be overwhelming for youngsters, and it’s hard to sit still, pay attention, and behave for a long time. Sit on the end of a row rather than in the middle, take them out for a break if they need it, and don’t be afraid to leave early if they are starting to have a meltdown.

Make a schedule

When you’re going from house to house or event to event during the holidays, kids can get scratchy and tired more easily because they’re so far off their usual routine. Schedule events so you’re not going too many places, and tell children ahead of time where you’re going, how long you’ll be there, and what’s next so that they are better prepared.

See things through your kids’ eyes

What’s going to be fun for the children? Being in the car all day visiting relatives, or hanging out at home playing with their toys? Visiting with their cousins even though you can’t stand your sister-in-law? Getting spoiled by Grandma when you’d rather stay home? Going to see the holiday lights even though they should really be in bed? Christmas is really fun for children, so think about what they would enjoy and plan your holidays around that.

Don’t try to be Martha Stewart

Your house doesn’t need to be perfect. Your meal doesn’t need to be served on the best china. Do what’s easiest – if that means a barbeque with paper plates, that’s okay. When your kids are grown-up you’ll have plenty of time to fuss over creating the perfect dinner party.

Get a cleaner

If you don’t have time to clean before you host guests, splurge on a one-off housekeeping service to help ease the stress and take the burden off you.

Have people come to you

Opt to stay home rather than visiting everyone else for the holidays. Invite friends and relatives to come for a holiday open home, or for leftovers on Boxing Day (it’s great fun to combine several families’ Christmas meal leftovers into one big pot luck!). Staying in their own environment where they can play with all of their new toys and go to their own rooms for time-out will help keep your kids calmer.

Spread out obligations

Instead of scrambling to see everyone on Christmas Day, divide and conquer. Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day are all special days you can devote to a certain friend or family member.

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