Holidays With Kids Series #2: The importance of holiday planning

Those of you who’ve seen my previous videos and articles will know that I am a hardcore fan of planning ahead for big events. Not surprisingly, I advocate for extensive holiday planning, starting a few weeks out from the holidays. (And yes, I’m aware as I post this that we’re already in the midst of Hanukkah and that I therefore should have posted this weeks ago. Looks like I didn’t plan ahead effectively!)

Here are a few guidelines for effective holiday planning:

  1. Break big tasks down into smaller steps: Make a list of the things you need to get done. This includes gift shopping, house cleaning, food prep, packing for travel, etc. Break the list down into several discrete, manageable steps, and assign yourself one or more of these steps each week for the weeks leading up to the holidays.
  2. Delegate: So many moms insist that they are the only ones in their family who can prepare for the holidays. To these moms, I ask: “Can your partner/parents/in-laws go to Amazon? Can they shop for food?” If so, they can help. Give them clear directions for what you need done and a time frame for when you need it done by.
  3. Do not expect too much of yourself: There will be a whole blog post about this topic next week, but I wanted to be sure to mention it here. Set reasonable expectations for what you can do and remember what the holidays are actually supposed to be about.
  4. Prep your kids, and yourselves: I recently posted a terrific article from my colleague Dr. Rebecca Schrag Hershberg, about how to stave off holiday season tantrums in young kids. One piece of advice she gives is to prepare your kids for what the holidays will be like, so as to minimize surprise. This means reviewing what will happen—where will you travel, who will be there, and what will you do once you get there. We moms can prep ourselves too, by considering how each day is going to go and thinking ahead about how we’ll deal with both kid things (naps, snacks, etc.) and adult things (how we’ll respond to an overbearing relative, how we can take some time out for ourselves if we get too stressed). You can also try to set a holiday schedule in your head, but be aware that it might be difficult to stick to it. Which brings me to my caveat…

Important caveat: There is a limit to what holiday planning can achieve. I can name literally dozens of things that can throw a wrench into carefully orchestrated holidays, like disrupted travel, kid illnesses, or staying in a home that’s not your own (more on that in a future post). Do the best you can to plan, but also recognize that chaos can and may ensue. It wouldn’t be the holidays with kids without a little bit (or a lot) of chaos!

 

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I’m Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco, Ph.D., aka DrCBTMom. DrCBTMom.com combines the expert advice of a self-help book with the warmth and readability of a mommy blog.
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