Does the thought of the upcoming holiday season send you into a panic?
Are you stressed trying to get everything accomplished?
Do your children send fighting and sibling rivalry to a whole new level during the holidays?
Breathe! Let Mama Detox help you reduce the toxic effect of holiday stress.
Holiday stress is nothing new. I am sure we are all very familiar with it, not only in our own lives, but in the lives of our children. Being the unique individuals that we are, we tend to manifest stress in different ways, but yet the same. Adults often become irritable, grouchy, short-tempered, yelling, cutting others off…just downright rude. Children as well will get irritable, short-tempered, easily frustrated, grouchy and the temper tantrums, screaming fits, sibling fights, unkind words, even hitting, kicking and biting episodes become all to common during the holidays. Unfortunately the negative effects of stress go far deeper than the outward scenes we see, hear or initiate ourselves.
One of the first steps is to identify what are the triggers or situations that causes our stress level to rise? Is it hosting the big family meal at our house? Cooking for all of those people? How about the endless barrage of holiday party invites? Trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on our list? What about your children’s source of stress? Does visiting all of those seldom seen relatives strike fear in their little heart? To many late night parties upsetting their routine and sleep cycles? Excessive amounts of sugar? (watch for an upcoming post on the dangers of sugar) It could be that your stress is being passed onto them without you even realizing it. Children are extremely intuitive and can sense when you are upset/stressed. They may not be able to verbalize it or how it makes them feel, but they know that their normally calm, supportive safety net is not as strong as it should be. In a crazy, frenzied time of life children need that calm, peaceful, reassurance their parent normally provides even more than usual.
Now that you have identified the cause(s) of stress in you and your children it is time to find a way to limit the negativity it causes in your life. Often we as parents have very different view points from our children (or even our significant other) as to which holiday traditions are truly important or even enjoyable. If you and your partner have not had a recent discussion as to what is important to each of you during the holiday season, I encourage you to do so before things get crazy and before you know it another holiday has come and gone. Even if you hashed it all out earlier in your relationship, priorities change as we get older, what was once THE tradition for your partner may not even register with them now. Or perhaps you had sat down shortly before the birth of your oldest and decided how the holidays would play out, but now 4 kids later, trying to follow that same schedule is just madness. Take some time, go on a date and discuss it, make a list one evening after the kids are in bed, get up early one morning and plan it out over coffee together…but have a conversation and get on the same page. This one step alone may relieve more stress than you think.
Next if your children are old enough, ask them which traditions are important to them. Which ones could they happily let go? Are there any new ones they may have seen/heard of that they would like to add? The answers may surprise you. Years ago, after my first husband and I separated, I sat down with my older three (the fourth was less than 2 yrs) and asked them what traditions they felt we should keep, which was the most important to them, where there any traditions they didn’t really care if we still did or not, and was there a tradition that they didn’t even like? Surprisingly one tradition that all 3 of them found stressful was receiving a yearly Christmas stuffed animal. They all felt like because this was a “special” stuffed animal that they would have to keep it forever even if they didn’t want too. I was SHOCKED! My children did not want a toy? They were even stressed by thought of having to lug this animal around with them forever? Well, that was one tradition that as a newly single, strapped for cash, parent I was happy to get rid of!
Point to the post: often sources of holiday stress are ones we bring upon ourselves. We *think* our partner/kids/family want tradition x, y, z, but in reality they could happily do with out it. So, have a discussion. Communicate with each other and let the de-stressing begin!
Check out my FREE 5 day mini course on Holiday Stress Busters!