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Managing Holiday Stress

Family With Grandparents Enjoying Thanksgiving Meal At Table

Grandma lovingly says, “Just let her have a cookie!” Uncle Ted disapprovingly says, “You need to let him do things; you’re smothering him.” Aunt Rosa wonders why the kids are allowed to stay up so late, when “everyone” knows children need ten hours of sleep.

Getting together with relatives can be exciting and yet traveling, preparation and criticism about your parenting can cause stress. You and your kids might look forward to a break from homework and schedules, but the loss of routine can also be disruptive.

Taking care of yourself and managing holiday stress can be the biggest gift you give your family. Imagine 10-20 years from now and what your children will remember about the holidays. They won’t remember every detail executed perfectly, but they will remember how the holidays felt.

To help you manage the stress of the holidays and create meaningful memories, think THRIVE:

  • Talk: Call a friend, talk to a relative/partner, or e-mail a buddy. Getting emotional support is an important way to relieve stress.
  • Have a list: Manage your list instead of having it manage you. What’s really important? What can you delegate? How can you do less and enjoy more?
  • Realistic: You are not Martha Stewart who has tons of assistants to make those perfect holiday cookies. Having the kids help is about spending time together, not making magazine-cover cookies.
  • I am the parent: When people give you “helpful” parenting suggestions, you can say “I’ll think about that” or “Hmm, interesting suggestion.” This strategy lets the other person know you’ve heard him, but also sends the message you are the parent and will make the decision.
  • Value the help of others: People want to be helpful. When they’re involved in helping, it takes the focus off of a perfectly clean house and children who are not perfectly behaved and engages you in creating the holidays together.
  • Exercise & Re-charge: Take a walk. Getting out can distract you and give you a boost of energy–even if it’s for five minutes. Escape to the privacy of your room, put on a jacket and go outside or sneak into your car and enjoy the quiet and the sensation of a few deep breaths.

By taking care of yourself, you are teaching your children how to take care of themselves when they are stressed or overwhelmed.


Care Managers can arrange a free 30 minute Care Consultation so you can explore options with an expert.

We invite you to call or email our Care Managers at 650.688.3625 or caremanager@chconline.org to set up an initial Parent Consultation appointment.

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