Navigating Holiday Stress as a Family

December 9, 2020

Pandemic Stress + Holiday Stress = HELP!

We are reaching the end of a year that has been, at the very least, a rough road. Now, we’re combining one of the most stressful times of the year with the fact that we can’t get together and celebrate. How many different ways can we express that we can’t wait for this to be over?


A lot of us have already coordinated a few quarantine-friendly holiday festivities. There’s the physical distancing that takes a toll (and outdoor options may not be so realistic in December), but there’s a certain emotional weight these holidays carry. There are ways to help prepare the entire family and navigate all of this together.


Don’t wait to make plans


Not only does making plans give everyone something to look forward to, but it also creates some level of predictability in a really uncertain time. Experts suggest we should all be planning for new traditions to prevent disappointment and confusion closer to the holidays. Predictability is really important for kids.


Start (and commit to) new traditions


Instead of thinking about the things we can’t do this year, let’s think of this holiday season as special! Cook and swap your favorite dishes with family, friends and neighbors. Write/draw and hand deliver letters. Create a scavenger hunt or a costume contest. Plan a game night. Vote on a charity to donate to. The possibilities are endless. 


Let kids express disappointment


There’s no way around it: this holiday season will probably be a bit of a bummer. It’s okay for everyone to share that and for you to validate those feelings. It’s also important to let your kids know how you’re coping, whether that be calls with friends or journaling. Chat with the entire family about their go-to ways of working through their anger or sadness.


Give the kids a sense of control


We’re all craving a sense of control we’ve lost. Letting the youngest members of the family have a say in what their holidays will look like can be an invaluable tool. If they come up with the ideas, they will inevitably have more of a buy-in to the changes.


Have faith in them


This pandemic is introducing our kids to some more “grown-up” issues than we might have been ready to expose them to. That said, we have to remember they have overcome adversity in the past and will continue to do so in the future. This year has provided a lot of lessons that we are built to overcome. We’ve got this, and so do our children! 


Go forth and conquer this holiday season, embracing the new fun it can bring. We’ll be here to help along the way.


Sources: Holidays During the Pandemic and How to Help Your Kids Handle Disappointment from Child Mind Institute


For more tips, check out the CA Parents’ Corner blog.

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