Holiday Stress

Q. The holidays are coming and I'm filled with dread over the parties, the visitors, the baking, school plays, etc. I find myself gritting my teeth before Halloween and not breathing a sigh of relief until after the New Year. My kids get tired and whiny and misbehave, which just makes matters worse. Help!

A. The holidays are filled with stress. We want to be hospitable, cheerful, and spiritually focused on Jesus, but in reality we are busy, sleep-deprived, and financially strapped. Here are a some ideas you can implement to pare down the busyness of the season.

Have a couple's conference:

Begin by sitting down with your spouse before Thanksgiving and deciding which people and events are most important to your family this holiday season. As you look through the list, eliminate the less-important events.

Plan for family time:

Block out one day of each weekend in November and December to keep unscheduled. Guard these days for the good of your family. If you can't manage to block a full day each weekend, block out two half-days. Once your calendar is full, schedule any remaining "get-togethers" for January, when the calendar is more open and kids need interesting things to do.

Empathize with your kids:

If you're feeling tired, so are your kids. When they get crabby from over-stimulation, take them away from the activities and say, "I'm feeling tired. I bet you're feeling tired right now, too." Your child will probably agree.

If you can, let her take a break from the action by retreating to her room, even if you have company. If you're out and about, remind her of the next quiet time in the day and the upcoming family day during the weekend.

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May 25

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