Strange thing to admit – but the holidays are hard on parents. No matter your religion, the proximity of your immediate family, or your enthusiasm (or disdain) for this time of year.
There’s the list-making, the present shopping, the present wrapping, the tree-trimming, the menorah-lighting, the card opening and card sending. Not to mention the holiday cookie and dinner shopping, making and eating.
Plus the office party. The in-laws’ party. Your own party. The winter concert at school, followed by a party.
It’s such a busy time, it’s easy to forget what a peaceful and relaxing season the holidays can, and maybe should, be for families. Kids especially.
When my three children were little, my husband and I were so busy with festivities during this month, I feared our kids would start to think of December as the month when they saw the babysitter more than their parents.
So this year, I’ve been asking all parents what they do to destress and simplify the holidays. I got some pretty cool answers. Here are my favorites:
- One mom pooled all the money her family would have spent on presents, and they went on a trip instead.
- Another had each family member pick one party they would all go to together. This translated into five parties, which is a lot. But better than six.
- Another family voted (anonymously) on what events they most wanted to go to — and which ones they least wanted to go to. They only went to the two events that got the most votes.
- A friend takes her kids to the parties she’s invited to. This can be awkward and messy, but it does teach kids how to dress festively and behave at adult parties. Plus it gives you a great excuse to leave early.
- Give each of your kids one veto each. They can refuse to attend one event, or ask you to stay home from one event. Empowerment makes a great holiday gift.
I synthesized all these suggestions and came up with one present I wanted from my kids: all three with me, in our dark tv room, without any iPhones, watching the Peanuts Christmas Special. Thirty minutes of family bonding can feel priceless at this time of year.
So each December, take a moment to decide how you want the holiday season to feel for your family – no matter your religion. Festively chaotic? Serene and peaceful? Filled with family? Filled with zero family? And then make that happen.