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Oregon Family Magazine

Tis the Season for Reducing Holiday Stress

12/03/2018 ● By Sandy Kauten
For most children, the holidays are a lot of fun—they get a break from school, and they often get to visit with friends and family. But just as the holidays can create stress for adults, the busyness of the season can also be overwhelming for kids.

As a pediatrician for over 25 years and as a mother, I’m happy to share with you some tips to maintain the calm when life gets busy.

Plan ahead. Children need some degree of predictability, so discuss holiday plans well in advance. If you know your kids travel best in the morning, book an early flight, if possible. It’s never easy flying with young children, but sometimes having a smart travel plan helps.

Create downtime. It's easy to become overscheduled, so plan quiet activities, like listening to music, reading books or going for a walk. Time spent decompressing will help everyone maintain their energy.

Stick to routines, as much as you can. Regularity, when it comes to things like naps, baths and bedtime, is important, so try to keep to your normal schedule, especially when traveling.

Set a calm example. If you allow yourself to get overloaded with obligations, it increases pressure and tension on your kids. Enjoy the little moments and decide that, no matter what happens, you will be grateful for this time with your children. 

Maintain family traditions, even if a parent is absent. Things like setting the table together, baking cookies or reading a favorite holiday book are what our children will pass on to their kids. Traditions create a grounding effect and let kids know that even though some things have changed, other things remain the same.

Give back. The holidays are also a great time to help instill the importance of helping others. As a family, try to find ways to give, like donating toys to the Toys for Tots campaign, Bags of Love or other worthy organizations. Take time to talk with your kids—especially your tweens and teens—about ways to volunteer their time, which can have a significant impact in their life and in their community.