family advice, meal advice, menu planningThe time to relax is when you don’t have time for it. ~Attributed to both Jim Goodwin and Sydney J. Harris

So often around the holidays we try to create a “perfect” party/meal/morning. And all too often, things don’t work out the “perfect” way we planned. Maybe the problem is with our definition of “perfect.” Real life is never like a movie, a Christmas card, or even a Charlie Brown cartoon, and trying to script everything usually leads to disappointment. This season, give yourself the gift of standards that are a little less constricting, expectations that are a little less demanding, and the time to spend enjoying family, friends, and the holidays.

Girlfriend Guru LISA HOLCOMB reminds us that not only do adults feel stress this time of year, kids stress out as well. She shares some great tips for relaxing and finding some peace between now and the start of the new year.

It’s now officially the holiday season. Even though stores were playing Christmas music and putting out Christmas decorations before Halloween, it wasn’t officially what I would consider “Christmas” until the day after Thanksgiving. Along with the Christmas carols, Christmas baking, stressing over holiday budgets, and shopping comes STRESS!

Often adults think they are the only ones who are stressed at holidays. However, our little ones have a strange way of picking up on our moods, including stress. How can children relax when parents aren’t? When we are rushing all over the place and stressed ourselves, we can’t expect our children to be enjoying themselves. I certainly fall into this trap myself and can say first hand that I’ve seen how it can affect my children.

So, how do you help your family have a more relaxing Christmas holiday? Start by following these simple tips:

Keep it simple: We have a tendency to want to fit every Christmas activity and party into the holiday as possible. Sit down with your family and decide what you are going to do or participate in before the season gets started. Keep it simple. Your family really doesn’t have to participate in every party and activity that you’re invited to. That also means that parents don’t need to leave their children with the sitter to go to endless parties. Instead, spend the time at home as a family baking, playing games…You get the point.

Remember routines: This is really important for parents with smaller children. When their routines are continuously broken, children can get stressed out. (Both the child and parent!) Try your best to keep that routine going as much as possible. Even my school age kids get stressed when our routine is broken day after day.

Mealtime: This is an important one! Family mealtime is important all the time for reconnecting with each other, but during Christmas season it’s even more so. It’s a time to unwind at the end of the day and reconnect with each other. I know it’s impossible for my family to get all of us together for every evening meal. However, we try as many nights of the week as possible. It really makes a difference.

Nutrition: Family mealtime doesn’t include sitting down at your families favorite fast food restaurant on your way to rush to the mall to do more Christmas shopping. It means serving your family home cooked nutritious meals. There are great websites that can help you with menu planning during this busy time (or any time) and can help you get your family to the table.

Limit video games and TV: I know, I know. It can be so easy to use TV or video games as a babysitter when we are so busy. However, when kids are feeling stressed they need more physical activities (hey, that goes for the parents as well) and exercise.

Hang on to those family traditions: Every family has some sort of holiday traditions. These traditions can make children feel comforted and secure. They know what to expect. One word of warning though. If your Christmas tradition is actually adding more stress to your family’s life then maybe you need to consider letting it go.

Share: Help children to learn the real meaning of Christmas and that it’s not all about getting, but giving. Our children can become stressed just seeing all the commercials and ads telling them they MUST have a certain item to be “ok.” Find ways with your children that your family can give back.

Laugh and Relax: I can’t even stress this one enough. Find time this Christmas season to relax with your family. Enjoy family game night, watching Christmas classic shows, just being together.

Christmas season doesn’t need to be a time of stress for you or your children. Keep the true meaning of Christmas in your family’s life and enjoy this special time of the year to the fullest!

LISA HOLCOMB is the “Queen of Meal Time Makeovers.” She is an advocate of family nutrition, savvy grocery shopping, and family dinners. She’s a published writer and speaker who lives in Texas with her husband and four boys. Lisa and her husband adopted their two youngest children and are strong advocates of adoption. She is founder of Build A Menu, an online menu planning service that gives a portion of its proceeds to orphan care.

What are your tips for helping those around you de-stress?

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