We made it through Thanksgiving which is usually full of parties, turkey dinners, time with relatives, Black Friday shopping, and of course, declaring what you are most thankful for. After Thanksgiving, many families brace themselves for the busy holiday season, but it doesn't have to be a battle of survival.
Here are the top ten tips for keeping a stress-free holiday season:
Tip #1: Make Lists
Be sure to make a lot of different lists, including what's most important to you, top things you want to do before the end of the year, and shopping lists. By making lists in advance, you will have set goals as well as a holiday budget, and of course, having a list will help to ensure you don't forget anything or anyone!
Tip #2: Plan Ahead
Get your shopping done in advance to avoid last-minute chaos. Revert back to the lists above and be sure to include deadlines of when everything should be checked off your list. Remember that plans can change, but having a plan in place will help ease your stress.
Tip #3: Enlist Help
One person should not be doing all of the holiday preparations. Delegate various tasks to everyone, even kids. You might think your child is too young to contribute, but even toddlers can help. Perhaps they can decorate cookies or wrap presents – it doesn't have to look professional, and those around you will love hearing how your child chipped in.
Tip #4: Take a closer look at your schedule
If you need to take time off of work in order to attend family events, be sure to do so as soon as possible. Also, make sure you have enough time for everything so you don't overlap various commitments. Most importantly, try to take some time out for yourself, even if it's just a few minutes each day.
Tip #5: Try to keep your child(ren)'s routine
Young children thrive best when they have a set schedule. Unfortunately, if that schedule is thrown off too much, it can add stress to any situation. Obviously, traveling or having relatives visit can throw off the routine a little, which is fine, but the more consistent you keep things the better.
Tip #6: Plan exciting, stress-free activities
The Toledo area has wonderful tree lighting events, lovely carriage rides, and various other events to meet Santa. Other fun activities include sledding, building a snowman, or simply having a holiday movie night. Having fun doesn't have to cost a lot of money. Plan out which events you want to go to and be sure to enjoy the holiday festivities!
Tip #7: Family Traditions
Keep the traditions that are most important to you, but welcome new traditions as well. Most people have set traditions that they do every year to celebrate the holidays. There is something magical about sharing those traditions with your children. However, every year it seems new events and activities are popping up. If you do something memorable this year, it would be a great idea to make it a yearly tradition from now on.
Tip #8: Respect other traditions
Not everyone celebrates the same holiday as you, and even those that do celebrate the same holiday will likely have different traditions. For example, in the Toledo area we have Au Pairs that come from all over the world to provide live-in childcare for their host families. Au Pair childcare has a huge cultural exchange benefit, especially around the holidays. Go Au Pair has a local Au Pair from Colombia who shared with us that in her country, the holidays start out with an event called “Day of the Candles.” She went on to say it's not a big holiday, but it's a tradition to begin Christmas. It's important to respect other traditions, but it can also be a wonderful time to accept new ones.
Tip #9: Safety First
Remember to double-check to make sure everything is safe. Pay close attention to poisonous holiday plants, choking hazards, and fire hazards. Also, make sure your tree is sturdy and won't fall over, keep breakables out of reach so no one gets cut, and use extra precaution when driving. Having a safe holiday will keep things stress-free.
Tip #10 Take a deep breath and remember to enjoy the season!
Nikki Khuong is an author, mother, early childhood education expert, and Local Area Representative for Go Au Pair in the Toledo area. Go Au Pair has been providing quality childcare for over 27 years and is designated by the U.S. Department of State as a sponsored agency to provide families affordable child care solutions through various Au Pair Programs.