As we store away our Halloween costumes, and our Jack-o-lanterns are replaced with turkeys and harvest wreaths, we may find it harder to maintain focus. The magic of the holiday season brings plenty of distractions as our minds drift to holiday parties, Christmas shopping, end-of-year programs and visits to see family and friends. While the holidays can bring extra excitement, a lack of focus during this time can also leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

holidays stress

Canopy Children’s Solutions’ therapist Monica Roberts offers insight on how to keep the holidays jolly for the whole family.

Create a countdown. Creating a countdown is a great way to visualize the amount of time before a big event, such as Christmas, a family trip or major test. This allows you to mentally process the time you need and the time you have to prepare. Pairing this with an event’s calendar can help you prioritize time with other faster approaching activities or events.

Don’t overschedule. The holidays bring many commitments. Create a calendar for everyone to see what is scheduled for the week and knows what to expect. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, chances are your children may feel it too. By trying to make every activity, you might miss out on the joy of the season. Don’t be afraid to say no. Also, focusing on one thing at a time will keep you on task and help avoid stress.

holiday cookies

Work with the holidays. Yes, there is still homework to be done, tests to be studied for and books to be read on top of your children’s holiday fun. Try to find ways to incorporate or reinforce your child’s education using holiday activities. Bake cookies to practice fractions, addition or subtraction; use car rides to quiz your child before a test; or practice reading with a holiday-themed book before bed. Be creative, your child may forget they are practicing school work while having fun.

Keep your routine. Overly-tired children are often less able to perform academically, are more susceptible to stress and can seem more irritable than children who are well-rested. While missing routine bedtimes occasionally shouldn’t send your child into a tailspin, constant changes in their routine can affect their mood and concentration.

Focus on the positive. Playing host to Thanksgiving dinner can be nerve-racking, holiday shopping can be hectic, and yes, the elf needs a new place to hide every night—but don’t let these things steal your joy. Think about the funny conversations you’ll have around your dining room table with family and friends; focus on how excited your nephew will be when he opens his special gift; imagine the silly stories your kids will make up to explain the elf’s shenanigans when they find him each morning. By channeling your thoughts and energy on the positive, you can help your children do the same.

holiday tradition

Start a tradition. Traditions are a way to focus on family togetherness. They provide children with a sense of stability, giving them something to look forward to and traditions can offer some much-needed downtime from the holiday hustle. Traditions don’t have to be expensive or extravagant, just consistent and intentional. Serve Thanksgiving dinner at a local shelter, take an hour to look at Christmas lights, decorate your home together, or sit and watch your favorite holiday movie as a family. Let your children help mold the tradition into something that is meaningful and memorable for everyone involved.

Give a little grace. The holidays are magical for children and that can stir extra excitement. The chill in the air, time away from school and the extra sugar in their veins may make them more hyper, so remind yourself to smile, give extra hugs and reminisce the magic of the holidays.

And remember not everything has to be perfect; give yourself a little grace too.

The upcoming holidays can be stressful for you and your children. By using these tips, you can help your family truly enjoy the magic of the holiday season.

Contributed by Laura Walker, staff writer for Canopy Children’s Solutions

This was a featured article in the November 2017 edition of Parents and Kids Magazine.