Minimize family stress this holiday season

The holiday season is here and although it is seen as ‘the most wonderful time of year’ it can bring about unwelcomed stress. In order for families to truly enjoy the season, it’s important for parents to consider their children’s activities, routines and nutrition, and remember how easily stress levels can rise if they are disrupted.

With the holidays come shopping, cooking, traveling and decorating among many other activities, and these hectic non-stop schedules can become overwhelming for children. Below are some ways parents can help their children relax and minimize stress during the holiday season.

A little exercise goes a long way.
During the holidays, children tend to spend a lot more time in front of the TV, computer or video game console. Don’t let these electronics become their baby sitters. Children and parents who are stressed need some type of physical activity. Take a 30-minute break to play catch, shoot hoops or take a bike ride.

An apple a day… Aside from all the sweets that come with the holidays, parents are usually very busy and might not have time to make a nutritious meal. Plan at least one healthy meal every day, and fit in fruit snacks in between meals for a natural energy boost.

Remember routines. Children, but especially babies and toddlers, can easily stress when their daily routine is broken. If you’re hosting extra family members at home or are taking the little ones on long shopping expeditions and added events, they will get overtired and very cranky. Making time for an uninterrupted midday nap should do the trick, because a well-rested child will be much happier than one who is in desperate need of a nap.

Yes, it’s a laughing matter.
Laughter is still the best way to beat stress, so don’t sweat the small stuff. Take time to wear a funny holiday hat or outfit and encourage the kids to do the same.

Create and keep family traditions.
Family traditions offer comfort and excitement, because children know what to expect. Perhaps your family can bake holiday-themed cookies or create fun-faced pancakes early in the morning, before the adults get busy running errands.

The holiday season doesn’t have to be a time of stress and exhaustion. Children will usually follow their parents’ lead, so remember to stay calm, take breaks, have fun and most importantly stay safe.