5 Tips to Help You Stay Sane Through the Holidays

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People look forward to the holidays for weeks… but when they're upon us, life can get hectic. Parenting expert Kathy Buckworth shares her tips to help you stay sane during this crazy-busy, but hopefully fun family time.

1. Let go of your perfectionist side.

Sheldon Cooper throwing paper.

So much of the pressure around the holidays is concerned with getting the perfect tree, setting the perfect table and making the perfect meal — especially if you’re hosting a big event. Don't forget, it's the little things, not the grand efforts that make it authentic and yours.

Let the kids hang their home-made decorations on the tree and create "interesting" table centrepieces. Most importantly, ignore social media if looking at other people's "perfect" holiday homes is going to stress you out.

2a. Wherever possible, stick to a routine.

Sleepy baby tipping over on a couch.

It's easy to let kids stay up late and sleep in, but that can be hard on younger kids who need a routine to keep them from being exhausted and cranky. If you know you're going to be out late, let the youngest get a nap in first or bring their pajamas so they can sleep there.

Tell the kids, just like at home, they should be asking you for permission to eat extra sweets and drink soda — which flows freely at parties. Feed them something healthy along the way that will help them avoid a sugar crave.

2b. BUT, also accept that the kids are going to be a bit nuts, so go with the flow.

Danny Tanner and Stephanie Tanner from Full House dance.

Kids are taught to be hyped for the holidays at school, at the mall and via TV. Activities and a new book are a good way to keep them occupied when they wake up early — and keeps them from waking you up. It’s also a great wind-down option to help them get to bed on time.

Let them have some freedoms but make sure they work to your advantage too! For instance, on Christmas morning, let them open their stockings in their bedrooms before anyone is up. That way, you just might get in an extra hour of sleep.

3. Curb the shopping and shop sane.

Two minions screaming. Text overlay: SHOPPING!

This is a big one! Make a list, and stick to it. Start the list early, so that if you replace items, or discover that a particular item is hard to find, you'll be prepared. A list will help you stay on budget. Take advantage of online shopping where you can to avoid drives to the mall and long lineups, and to significantly reduce impulse buying.

If your item doesn't arrive in time, and the recipient is mature enough, give them a "picture and a promise" that they will get it as soon as it arrives. Don't buy your child a replacement gift unless they are really young. Don't be swayed by other families who have presents piled up to the ceiling; it’s not a competition.

4. Respectfully decline.

Grumpy cat says no then scurries away.

Be realistic about your schedule and accept invites for the events you truly don’t want to miss or events you will be missed at. Remember that popping in and out can frustrate kids who want to stay with their best friends playmates, and may even appear rude to hosts who hardly got to enjoy your company.

Party hopping can be dangerous too. Depending on where you live, trying to get to three parties in one night can mean too much time on unsafe roads.

5. Get outdoors!

Four pugs on a sled are bundled up in winter clothing (hats too) and are pushed on a sled going down a shallow slope.

It's not all about the parties! This might be one of the rare times a year where everyone has a few days off together, so make it quality time. A low-key family favourite activity like tobogganing or simply building a snowman can be rewarding for everyone. Plus, if you're visiting family, being cooped up inside with them (and some relatives you might not normally spend a lot of time with) can be tough on everyone.

Take the kids’ winter clothes along with you to Grandma's house or wherever you go, so they can get outside and burn off some energy. Being out in the sunlight will help keep their internal clocks going and the fresh air will do wonders for you too. Plan a family hike or just get out and play in the leaves or snow!

 

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