In the pursuit of the “Perfect Holiday,” we run ourselves ragged. The Perfect Gift! The Perfect Meal! The Perfect Decorations! The Perfect Parties! The Perfect Kids! (Gotcha on that one – just wanted to make sure you were paying attention!)
‘Tis the Season – for Systems and Structures!
Nothing says holiday cheer quite like peaceful families and great communication! Try:
- Planning ahead. Make a list of the tasks you have to complete before your holiday celebrations (e.g. buy and wrap gifts, get party supplies, pick up Grandma’s favorite brand of Oat Flakes for her visit, etc.). Take a look at your calendar and assign yourself some tasks each week. This way, you won’t have to tackle everything all at once!
- Setting expectations with your kids. A lot of holiday stress is focused on gifts – especially when kids have their hearts set on expensive iPhones or pricy toys! No matter what you celebrate, setting gift expectations is critical. One family I know celebrates Christmas and limits the number of gifts their kids receive. Each gets three because that was the number of gifts brought to Jesus by the Wise Men. Not only is this symbolic of their beliefs and traditions, it establishes clear expectations for everyone.
If you observe Chanukah, maybe you can discuss creative alternatives. Instead of a present on one night, for instance, you could decide to do something kind for each other. On another night, you could give a gift (donation, volunteer time) to your community. Whatever you decide, talking about it explicitly as a family lets the kids know what they can expect.
Side note: this is also a great opportunity to talk to your kids about budgeting. Many parents are hesitant to discuss money with their kids, but it helps set reasonable expectations.
Try this: “Our budget for holiday gifts is $X. I’d love it if you can give me a list of things you’d love to have. I also want you to know that this is the budget, and it’s not really negotiable. There will be a lot less stress around here if we don’t blow our budget!”
The holidays are actually a great opportunity to teach your kids about life’s realities – money doesn’t suddenly grow on trees in December! Besides, some limits on spending will help you stay connected to the true meaning of the season!
Sanity Is Not Optional
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