10 Ways for Parents to Ease Holiday Stress

Don't Let the Holiday Season Zap Your Stamina

The holiday season should be full of fun, warmth, and love. But in reality, it's also a time of increased sorrow and isolation. That's why it's so important to take care of yourself at this time of year. Put the following 10 tips into action as you prepare for the holiday season this year:

  • 01 of 10

    Time Holiday Events Around Your Kids’ Natural Schedules

    Daddy and daughter decorating a Christmas tree.
    Be aware of your kids' natural rhythms when planning holiday events. Photo © Erik Isakson/Getty Images

    Here's a basic holiday self-care tip: avoid taking an exhausted youngster to sit on Santa’s lap. (The experience will quickly go south for both of you!) Instead, make a point of going when you know your child is in a good mood, and when you suspect the lines may be short. For guidance, call ahead—and always bring snacks!

  • 02 of 10

    Don’t Force It

    Girl sleeping on Christmas Eve
    Be aware of your kids' need for rest. Photo © JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

    There will be at least one event this holiday season that you’ll want to go to, but that won’t really be ideal for you or your kids. Maybe someone’s not feeling well, or you know they’re overloaded with too much holiday cheer (a.k.a., sweets). Know your limits and give yourself permission to decline invitations when you need to. There will be plenty to go around, so don't be shy about saying no!

  • 03 of 10

    Take a Time Out

    Mom relaxing by the Christmas tree.
    Take a time out when you need it during the holiday season. Photo © Steve Debenport/Getty Images

    Do you ever feel tempted to buy yourself a little holiday gift while you’re out shopping? Instead, put a little money aside to hire a babysitter so you can steal a few hours for yourself at some point during the holiday season. You deserve it!

  • 04 of 10

    Be Realistic

    Holiday craft making
    Be realistic about taking on DIY holiday gifts. Photo © Tetra Images/Getty Images

    DIY gifts can save you loads of money—but if you’re not the ‘crafty’ type, be careful. It’s easy to spend more money, and time, on making gifts that are more complicated than necessary. Know your abilities, how much time you can invest, and when to say no to the impulse to DIY.

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  • 05 of 10

    Be Honest

    Woman making a holiday list
    Be honest when your family asks for a holiday list. Photo © Tetra Images - Daniel Grill/Getty Images

    When someone asks what your kids want or need, have an at-the-ready answer that fills an upcoming need or wish you might not otherwise be able to fulfill. For larger items, see if family members might be willing to go in on something together, or contribute a gift card if you've already begun saving for a big purchase.

  • 06 of 10

    Space Out the Celebrations

    Excited young boy holds a teddy bear
    Be mindful of spacing out your holiday celebrations. Photo © JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

    Particularly when your kids are sharing celebrations with your family and your ex’s, aim to space them out so that everyone has time to recover in between. In order to do this, it's best to communicate with your ex early in the holiday season so you can negotiate a win-win holiday schedule.

  • 07 of 10

    Take the Pressure Off

    Woman and her daughter reading together.
    Take the pressure off this holiday season. Photo © Jamie Grill/Getty Images

    This holiday does not have to be perfect to be enjoyable or full of memory-worthy moments you’ll cherish for years to come. So let go of the perfect 'ideal' and slow down long enough to enjoy what's happening before your very eyes. These are the moments that are magical!

  • 08 of 10

    Let Your Family Help

    Young boy and his grandfather coloring together.
    Let others help you this holiday season. Photo © Blend Images - KidStock/Getty Images

    As a single parent, you don't have to do it all alone. Let those around you—your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors—help you pull it off. You've heard the saying that "it takes a village." It really does, and the holiday season is the perfect time to tap into your community of support.

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  • 09 of 10

    Stick to Your Budget

    Woman buying holiday gifts online.
    Stick to your budget this holiday. Photo © JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

    It can be tempting, but it's best to avoid using credit to buy gifts you can’t afford. Check out your local thrift stores or scout out the hot items your kids are asking for on eBay or CraigsList. And don't be afraid to go the 'small and meaningful' route. It really is the thought that counts.

  • 10 of 10

    Return Stuff you Don’t Want

    Woman returning a holiday gift.
    Return the items you don't really want or need. Photo © Roberto Westbrook/Getty Images

    When it’s all said and done, remember that there’s no need to stockpile stuff you don’t want or need just so you don’t ‘offend’ the giver. Instead, return what doesn’t work for you (or your kids) and put that money toward something you’d really enjoy … or that you really need.