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Preschool Education Articles

Coping With Holiday Hustle and Bustle

Families can better cope with the hustle and bustle of the holidays by following a few simple tips.

Keep routines as normal as possible and concentrate on important activities to reduce holiday stress. Routines are important for children, so try to maintain normal meal and bedtime schedules even during holiday vacations., Children may feel upset, grouchy or anxious during this busy time. Don't expect children to always be happy and appreciative.

Having a quiet time is also a good idea during the holidays. Play soft music, read stories or take a stroll to bring down your child's activity level. Setting a "whisper hour," a time when everyone in the house must whisper, is a way to reduce noise and add mystery to the season.

Parents should select activities most important to the family. By letting go of the less important ones, the festive mood won't be hindered, but stress may be eased.

It's also a good idea to schedule activities over several days so the excitement isn't overwhelming -- for the children or for the parents. Make several short shopping trips instead of one long trip. Children have short attention spans and little endurance.

Here are some additional ways to deal with holiday stress:

  • Concentrate on people instead of objects. For example, it's more important to have fun making cookies than to have beautiful cookies.
  • Prepare children for holiday visits by sharing photos of family members. Discuss who the people are and who the children will see.
  • Plan celebrations during children's best coping time of the day.
  • Touch people. A loving touch can have the opposite effect of stress because it calms people both physically and emotionally.
  • Limit sugar, salt, caffeine during holiday meals and snacks. They may result in the same symptoms as stress.
  • Have children help prepare for celebrations by setting the table, cutting out cookies, picking up toys, and designing and coloring placemats.

By letting children be part of the festivities, the family emphasizes shared joys and responsibilities during their holiday celebration.

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC.
Source: Adapted from Helen Danielsen and Karla Rose. "Coping with the Holidays". North Dakota State University Extension Service.


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