Your Family Can Survive the Holidays This Year. Here’s How. 

You can already feel the tensions rising at your house. Each day is colder, darker, and shorter than the last. The leaves have just finished falling from the trees, but your son is still wearing cargo shorts to school every day. Your neighbor’s perfect Christmas lights are already up and come on automatically at 6:05 every night while you’re still polishing off the Snickers leftover from Halloween. The holidays are here, and you need already need a break.

The holidays are an incredibly stressful time for families. And everyone is affected. Additional holiday-related responsibilities pile on to your already hectic schedule of work, homework, dance classes, basketball games, therapy sessions, teacher conferences, and housework. Now, there’s shopping, baking, holiday parties, and even more to get through. Maybe it wasn’t such a great time to start that side-hustle driving for Lyft.

Don’t worry. There’s plenty you can do to survive the holidays.

  • Slooooooooww doooooowwn. As your responsibilities increase this time of the year you may find yourself rushing back and forth from party to party, busy shopping mall to even busier shopping mall, practices to recitals, or between your day job to second (or third) job. When you are in a rush we become careless, forgetful, and irritable. You’re definitely not focused on self-care. Be intentional about spending time with your family and taking care of yourself. Schedule a favorite dinner, even if that means ordering pizza or your favorite Chinese food. Dust off the Monopoly board or the Wii and have a family game night. Perhaps just take a walk after dinner. These intentional moments together away from the stress of the holidays will make a big difference.
  • Notice your kid’s strengths. And let them know you see them. They may be hidden behind their messy rooms, and their constant texting, but your kids possess unique individual strengths24 of them, in fact! Did your daughter say something so funny at dinner that milk came out of your nose? Point out her humor and zest. Has your son been working really hard to bring that C in Math up to a B? Recognize his love of learning! Has your youngest let you know at least 100 times how much they want the new iPhone? Perseverance! Taking time to point out these strengths lets your child know your listening, no matter how busy you are.
  • Make time for mindfulness. Put down the yoga mat. You don’t have time for that! But you do have time to practice mindfulness every day. Focus on something new you see outside. That giant pile of leaves covering your yard. Your neighbor’s perfect decorations that have been up since November 1st. Your unique view of the strip mall through the newly empty trees. What do they look like? What does it sound like? What colors do you see? Imagine your son raking the leaves and clearing the yard. Close your eyes and focus on how nice it will be at 10:05 when the neighbor’s lights go off. Imagine the smells of the new coffee shop in the strip mall. Focus on something new each day. Even if it’s just a few minutes, you’ll gain a new perspective on the world around you.

The holidays can be the most stressful time of the year. Still, with a little strength, mindfulness, and intentionality, they can also be one of the most fun, loving, and wondrous times of the year.