- Happy Hanukkah.
Some parents gave me some wonderful ideas on how to minimize stress during the holiday season last week when I spoke at the Ayer Community School. I enjoyed the remarkable atmosphere among the staff and between staff and parents.
Here are some of the ideas to make the holidays as calm as possible for families by setting simple ingenious boundaries that make it easier for everyone.
1. Let children know in advance that Santa Claus will bring three presents and parents will bring three presents — such as socks and underwear
. When children receive a pile of other gifts from relatives, three Santa gifts will suffice.
This was my favorite suggestion to contain the what I call the “Ho Ho Ho Virus” that infects everyone and makes us crazy with over-buying, over-partying, and over-decorating.
2. Announce to extended family members, “We will be spending Christmas Day at home.” This is a no-fault way to set a boundary around family time and avoid spending a special day in a stressful situation with difficult relatives. The holiday will be more fun and relaxing by spending the with people you enjoy.
3. Lower your own expectations for creating the holiday. Most pressure comes from within. Keep in mind that Martha Stewart’s Christmas tree takes a staff of 41 and $11,000 to create. It’s okay to set a lower bar. A little decking of the halls can go a long way.
4. At a family meeting, ask your spouse and children what traditions are most important to them, and then make the time to do them. It can be as simple has making hot chocolate with a marshmallow on top, lighting a fire and singing carols.
5. Emphasize other aspects of the holidays rather than gift getting and gift giving. Set aside some time and money to give to others this holiday season. You’ll set an example that will be forever in your child’s hard-drive.
6. If you can’t change the source of stress — and there’s no remedy for the “Ho Ho Ho Virus” until Jan. 2 — you can change your response to it and manage your emotions.
7. Remember that children are going crazy with anticipation this time of year, so have some compassion and patience with them. Stick to your normal routines of sleeping and eating as much as possible.