How to Handle Holiday Stress and Enjoy the Season With Your Kids


The winter season is always filled with fun, with cheer, and often with a side of holiday stress.The 10-hour car trip with toddlers, the shuffling from one house to the other, the staying with your in-laws, the cooking for 30 people! Any tradition that doesn’t, as Marie Kondo would say, “spark joy” can easily be set aside this year. That’s a pretty incredible opportunity! 

As adults, we can reframe our thinking to feel more excited–and guess what: so can your kids. Too often parents worry their kids will be devastated by the changes – but that’s before through all of the fun things this holiday season can bring. I can think of a few key ages where if I told my kids they didn’t have to wear their fancy outfits and be on their best behavior for an entire holiday dinner, they would’ve been pumped!

So first, don’t assume your kids are going to be upset. Tell them the plans for Thanksgiving (and Hanukkah and Christmas and New Years as the time approaches). If they’re not disappointed, great. If they are, validate it, but know it’s not your job to fix it. Let them have their feelings (and you can have yours, too), and still make the best of it.

With all this in mind, here are some things you can do to eliminate stress and enjoy this holiday season:

Manage expectations

People tend to freak out a bit more if something doesn’t go according to plan this time of year, because the holidays are supposed to be “perfect” and now they’re “ruined”.  Tell your kids (and yourself!) that this year will be different, and there will be fun opportunities and new traditions to start.

Don’t pick little fights

Don’t stress about perfection or “how things always are,” and instead, aim to make this year special by making it different. Maybe you have a pajama day and stay in your PJs all day long. Maybe there’s some tradition one of your children would love to try. Engage them to help create the plans. 

Relax about Screen time

Another rule you may want to put on hold is screen time restrictions. Gather around as a family and have a marathon of holiday movie classics throughout the season. Or, let the kids watch football game after football game–whatever your family is into.

Make Zoom Extra Special

Finally, make Zoom more fun by planning a little something special. Instead of just logging on, plan a shared activity across your family. Maybe everyone will cook latkes together and take turns spinning their dreidel; or you could have a family Caroling party complete with cocktails and mocktails.

 Above all, I encourage you to celebrate without stress–and with safety in mind. Don’t let anyone else guilt you into a celebration you don’t feel is right for your family. Have fun creating your own day, and find ways to connect with each other, as well as your family near and far.  Happy Holidays! 



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and after, the pandemic.