It’s no secret that the holidays can be incredibly stressful, especially for moms of little ones. Here’s a list of eight cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies for surviving the holidays with young kids.
- Set appropriate expectations: Those first few holidays with little ones will likely not be magical, thanks to the completely unpredictable nature of young kids. Set your expectations low, and appreciate the few things that actually actually do go according to plan.
- Plan ahead: Break your holiday to-do list down into several discrete, manageable steps, and assign yourself one or more of these steps each week in the weeks leading up to the holidays.
- Prepare yourself and your kids: You and your kids can review what will happen at holiday gatherings—where will you travel, who will be there, and what will you do once you get there. It will help minimize your kids’ (and your own!) feelings of disorientation.
- Set a (very tenative schedule): It may even help to set a schedule for yourself and your kids for the long holiday break. But know that the holidays are chaotic (see #1), which means that you might have to abandon some scheduled activities at a moment’s notice.
- Take the pressure off yourself: You are not Santa. And you don’t need to be. Holidays don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. Cut corners if you need to, and don’t overwhelm yourself.
- Take care of yourself: Related to #4, be sure you’re eating and sleeping and even doing some nice things for yourself while you’re busy doing nice things for others.
- Delegate: I don’t care what they say, if your partner and/or other family members can go food shopping or navigate Amazon, they can help you out. Just give them clear, specific instructions for what you need them to do.
- Expect that family time will make things more chaotic: We spend a lot of time at the holidays with family members who may have very different ideas about childrearing than we do. Expect that you won’t be able to maintain your house rules and routine if you’ve got lots of guests over or if you’re a guest in someone else’s home.
Want more tips for surviving the holidays with young kids? Keep tuning in to DrCBTMom.com over the coming weeks!