Create and continue traditions that inspire kids with a sense of wonder, magic, and meaning. Holidays are hectic enough as a single person. Add kids, and you’ve pushed stress potential into a whole new dimension. This year, take stress out of your holidays with these simple tips:
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1. Shop alone.
Don’t drag kids on marathon holiday shopping expeditions. Instead, leave them with a friend or your spouse, and go shopping alone, when possible. Better still, shop online and let kids take part in the gift wrapping. Or trade gifts after the holidays with close friends or relatives. If kids are eager to be part of the holiday shopping ritual, get yours done first, then take them in the middle of the day on a weekday for a leisurely (and pleasurable) experience.
2. Let your house be real.
Don’t waste precious family time by obsessing over cleaning and decorating. Instead, choose the decorations that are most important to you-wreaths, holiday lights, a special menorah-and focus on those. Keep it simple, let kids help, and make it fun. As for cleaning, lower your standards a notch: A happy, laughter-filled home is more inviting than dust-free mantles.
3. Stick to routines.
It’s hard during the holidays-especially when kids are out of school-but maintain your daily schedule as much as possible. A familiar routine gives kids a sense of order and comfort, and allows them to sink into the holidays with more enjoyment. Have at least one meal together to create a sense of structure; breakfast is often the best option. A family breakfast is also a good time to explain what’s on the agenda for the day. And create “bookends” for every day-a ritual you do first thing in the morning, like snuggling on the couch, and last thing at night, like reading in bed.