Family LIfe

Creating a Less-Stress Holiday Season
by Kim Green-Spangler

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's is a very stressful time for many, whether it is stress as a result of time constraints, money constraints, or emotional overload. But stress does not have to be accepted as part of the holiday package. There are ways to combat it.

Making Your List and Checking It Twice

First and foremost before any lists are made, create a budget and be prepared to be diligent in sticking to it. A realistic budget is the key to a financially stress-free holiday season - and beyond! The amount of stress associated with giving a gift with a price tag so large that you'll still be paying off come summer, is just not worth it. Make your gift list with your budget front and center in your mind. Determine how much you can comfortably afford to spend and give yourself a little wiggle room. There may be someone you overlooked, a gift that is no longer available, or something better suited that costs a little more than planned for. A small budget is a great time to teach children the true meaning of the holiday season. Have them donate their time, make gifts, or think of ways to be generous for the entire new year. Early planning means less scrambling, better selections, and more free time before the holidays arrive.

Better Not Shout, Cry or Pout!

With so much to do, tempers are sure to flare up, patience goes out the window and the whining can begin - and then the kids start up! Instead, put a plan in action to keep the season fun. Traditions are unique. If your parents held fast to a tradition that doesn't evoke fond memories, get rid of it for your family. Make your own traditions; you're a whole new family dynamic and deserve the opportunity to put your own stamp on things. So sort out what needs to be done and tackle it as a family. Do the decorating as a group instead of all of the work falling onto one person's shoulders, select one holiday activity like cookie baking or card sending, to complete as a family each day, and don't be afraid to just kick back and relax as a family as well.

So . . . Be Good for Goodness Sake!

The holiday season is not a license to throw caution to the wind and fall off of the healthy wagon! Holidays are completely chaotic. Chaos and children do not mix well, children thrive in routines (although they may not consciously know or like it) so keeping things as close to normal as possible will probably help a great deal. Continue to eat healthy. Sure, sneak that candy cane, the extra cup of eggnog or a batch of holiday treats, but don't let that be all you consume for the 12 days of Christmas, or you could end up both sick and regretful. Eat extra healthy during the holiday season, so an occasional fall from grace won't be a huge deal. Get sufficient sleep, as days tend to be longer as holiday specials are on television, parties are plentiful and shopping trips lengthy. Most important, is to remember to take time out for yourself. December is a common month for colds, flus and viruses to take hold. Time for rest and relaxation can provide the ammunition necessary to ward off something that could create a lasting holiday memory - for all the wrong reasons.

Take it one day at a time and this holiday season could be the stuff that dreams are made of for both you and your family and loved ones.

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