Ahhh, the holidays: does that word immediately make you feel stressed, start to sweat or say “oh, no”? For many of us, it brings out anxiety concerning what is about to happen and the work that must be done: gift shopping and wrapping, food preparation, ensuring the decorations are just right, cleaning and all that work! As parents, we want everything “just right” for our babies, whether young of grown. There are several things you can do to reduce your stress, giving yourself time to enjoy the holidays and your children.
First, not to overwhelm yourself, make a list of what has to be done. Our minds play games with our stress level. When you actually see what needs to be done and can prioritize a list, you will feel more in control. Second, carefully plan your meals. Healthy nutrition is needed to keep yourself and others from becoming sick. Limit the amount of candy or sweets you eat as they can reduce your ability to fight off colds and viruses. Wash your hands multiple times during the day, especially when returning to your home after a shopping trip.
Third, a fair amount of stress is caused by money issues and trying to make an already tight budget stretch far enough to buy presents. Think about the purpose of what you are buying and whether it can be used many times, or it is something that will entertain your child for a short period of time and then be discarded. Make a budget and stick to it. Try not to let store ads or “buy one, get one half-price” specials derail your budget. Will you really be able to use the second one? Fourth, use positive self-talk: say “I can do it” but stay within reason. Feel free to delegate tasks to other family members. We don’t need to do it all ourselves. Pick your battles with family members. Is it really important and will it matter later on? If your young children are dressing themselves and the outfit doesn’t match, don’t worry about it. The fact that your child did the task itself is most important. As teachers of young children, we are excited to see children develop their own self-help skills.
Make sure to treat yourself gently and kindly. Take a “nice for me break” to revive yourself. Ensure that you are sticking to good sleep habits and exercise routines. Don’t give up the exercise during this time of year, even if you think you can’t fit it in. You will only be depressed when you step on the scale and find you have gained weight. Though we all tend to gain a bit of weight over the holidays, continuing your exercise routine will keep it in check. Meditation and yoga are good forms of relaxation right before you go to bed. Reading also works. Lastly, enjoy the holidays with your family and friends. When you are really stressed, sit and read a book to a child, see the world through their eyes and enjoy the season. It will be over before you know it. Merry Christmas to all of our family!!!
Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.