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How to Survive the Holidays With Kids: Top 5 Tips For Parents

Posted: 12/03/2013 8:47 am

While the holidays are a festive time of year, they're also a time of great stress for parents. There are presents to be bought, friends and family to entertain and money to be spent. And let's not forget the cooking, the cleaning and general tasks that are expected. The festive season, not surprisingly, can be one that causes anxiety for many of us who are trying to balance parenting along with all of the other responsibilities and expectations that come along in December.

The good news is that there are ways for parents to alleviate the stresses that are a very real part of the holidays. By following the tips below, you can survive the festive season with the kids -- and even enjoy them as well.

Following are tips on How to Survive the Holidays With Kids: Top 5 Tips For Parents

1) Set the Stage -- You're the role model and your behaviour is what your children will model, so lead by example. If they see you stressed out, they'll feed on that and the tension in the house will explode. If the kids see that you're calm, cool, controlled and reasonably stress-free, their attitude and actions will follow. Like anything, kids take their cues from us so show them that you've got everything under control and they'll follow suit.

2) Manage Expectations -- With holiday ads for various toys and games starting right after Halloween, it's no surprise that many kids are champing at the bit for what they think with be a Christmas morning extravaganza of unparalleled proportions. Visions of sugarplums may be dancing in their heads, but so are visions of the latest video games, must-have toy and more.

The expectations of a full bounty of gifts is one of the most stressful parts of the season, particularly for parents who are on a tight budget. Accordingly, now's the time to set things straight, and to let the kids know that they will indeed receive gifts, but within reason. This includes the gifts that they will be receiving from Santa Claus. Giving your children a full accounting of the specific details of your finances is not necessary. What is necessary is letting them know a) that you love them and b) the true spirit of Christmas is about family, love and kindness -- all of which don't have a dollar value.

3) Get Help -- Cooking, cleaning and shopping on top of your regular parenting and household duties is too much for anyone to bear. You're only one person and can only do so much, so be realistic and give yourself a break. Get help wherever possible. Is Grandma anxious to see the kids again? No problem -- drop them off and use the time to get some of your holiday errands done. Has your kindly neighbour offered to watch the kids or to host a playdate at their home? Take them up on their offer, guilt-free, and use the time to get caught up on your to-do list. Now's the time to take up friends and family on their offers of support.

4) Have a Game Plan -- Every parent knows that a bored child is a whiny child. For this reason alone, it's especially important to have a plan of action where your kids are involved this holiday season. With many schools closing early and not opening up until after the new year, you'll have your hands full with the little ones, particularly if they're not occupied. Have activities for your kids planned in advance in order to keep them busy. These can include playdates with other kids, movie and game nights with the family, and day trips within your city. The great thing about this time of year is that there are many inexpensive family-friendly activities that are happening around town -- the perfect distraction for children who are complaining about not having anything to do.

5) Relax the Rules -- Sure, bedtime is usually 8 p.m. for your little ones but they want to stay up late to watch one last Christmas movie. Or, in another scenario your good friends and their kids have dropped by for a holiday visit and they're still visiting well after 8 p.m. The little ones are having a good time and so are you, so relax and let them stay up late this one time. The world will keep turning and your stress level will be considerably reduced. It's OK to ignore the regular schedule of everyday life during this time of the year. When the season passes you can get the kids back to their regular routines.


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  • "How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?" and "How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?" By Jane Yolen & Mark Teague

    I think there is something really funny about dinosaurs and <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-do-dinosaurs-say-merry-christmas-jane-yolen/1111849530?ean=9780545416788">Christmas</a> and <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-do-dinosaurs-say-happy-chanukah-jane-yolen/1111851809?ean=9780545416771">Chanukah</a>. Instead of sneaking down the stairs to look at presents, ripping off wrapping paper, and ravaging plates of cookies, these extinct monsters go caroling, help trim the tree and go to bed when they’re told. Instead of blowing out the menorah candles, grabbing all the gelt or hoard the dreidels, dinosaurs sing prayers, eat latkes and help clear the table, gives his grandparents holiday wishes. Who knew? If you want to teach your little monsters how to behave over the holidays, this book might be for you.

  • "The Christmas Quiet Book" By Deborah Underwood

    The holidays can be noisy and hectic, but if you slow down you can find pockets of quiet in even the most chaotic excitement. The latest of the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Quiet-Book-Deborah-Underwood/dp/0547558635/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1352499524&sr=1-1&keywords=the+christmas+quiet+book">Quiet Books</a>, this one reminds us of “searching for presents quiet,” “knocking with mittens quiet” and “listening for sleigh bells quiet.” Take a quiet moment with your children to explore all the silent moments of the season.

  • "The Night Santa Got Lost: How NORAD Saved Christmas" By Michael Keane

    I tell my son that Santa can bring presents to kids around the world because he’s magic and that seems to work just fine. But<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Night-Santa-Got-Lost-Christmas/dp/159698810X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1352498420&sr=1-1&keywords=the+night+santa+got+lost+how+norad+saved+christmas"> if Santa’s magic ever fails</a>, it is nice to know that NORAD would step in and help. In the tradition of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” this newest addition to our holiday collection includes satellites, computer tracking, fighter jets, battleships, helicopters and submarines as the military scrambles to help Santa get back on course after a Christmas Eve blizzard threatens his delivery schedule. After reading it, make sure to track Santa you’re your kids on Christmas Eve at <a href="http://www.noradsanta.org">http://www.noradsanta.org</a>.

  • "Pete The Cat Saves Christmas" By James Dean & Eric Litwin

    If the military is unavailable, Santa can always call on <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pete-the-cat-saves-christmas-eric-litwin/1108621173?ean=9780062110626">Pete the Cat</a>. When Santa gets sick, Pete leaves groovy Key West, hitches his van up to the reindeer, and takes his place. As Pete says, “Although I am small, in the spirit of Christmas I gave it my all!”

  • "The Berenstain Bears’ Old-Fashioned Christmas" By Jane & Mike Berenstain

    For fifty years, the Berenstains have charmed children with stories of Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister and Honey Bear’s lives. Their <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-berenstain-bears-old-fashioned-christmas-jan-berenstain/1108621088?ean=9780060574437">latest book</a> celebrates the joys of a country Christmas with handmade ornaments, gingerbread cookies, caroling and Papa Bear’s usual mishaps. There’s always room for timeless and sincere celebrations of the season, and the Berenstain Bears deliver just that.

  • "Charlie And The Christmas Kitty" By Ree Drummond

    <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/charlie-and-the-christmas-kitty-ree-drummond/1106028213?ean=9780061996573">This book</a> comes with a droopy-eared dog, a brand new kitten, and a delicious recipe for sugar cookies (Ree Drummond has never steered me wrong when it comes to recipes, and you can find more on her blog www.pioneerwoman.com). Charlie the Ranch Dog definitely did not have a new kitten on his Christmas list, but one shows up on his ranch anyway. After some initial hesitation, Charlie learns that unexpectedly good things come in very small packages.

  • "A Perfect Day" By Carin Berger

    During the holidays, it’s easy to get caught in the excitement and miss the perfect stillness of a day carpeted in snow and the simple joy children take in sledding, snowmen and snowball fights. Carin Berger <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-perfect-day-carin-berger/1107756675?ean=9780062015808">captures all that</a> and more in cut paper collages and a story about a single winter day, which is, in a word, perfect.

  • "Llama, Llama, Holiday Drama" By Anna Dewdney

    <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/llama-llama-holiday-drama-anna-dewdney/1020443626?ean=9780670011612">This isn’t a new release</a>, but if you haven’t discovered Baby Llama and his Mama, please do. Baby Llama is patient for a long time during a season of errands and lines and waiting for presents, but llamas can only wait for so long. He wants Christmas to come right away. When a tantrum doesn’t get him what he wants, his mama reminds him, "Gifts are nice, but there's another: The true gift is, we have each other."

  • "It’s Christmas David!" By David Shannon

    It’s hard to be a kid at Christmas, and it’s harder for David than most. His Christmas list is a mile long, he can’t stop searching for hidden presents, his table manners are horrible and he won’t wait patiently in the line for Santa. What David doesn’t know is that Santa is watching, and on Christmas morning, David is in for <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/its-christmas-david-david-shannon/1111847602?ean=9780545143110">an unpleasant surprise</a>. Or is he?

  • More Great Reads For Kids:

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/devon-corneal/november-books_b_2066539.html">Mesmerizing Non-Fiction Children's Books</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-handler/50-inspiring-childrens-books-with-positive-message_b_1557914.html">50 Inspiring Children's Books With A Positive Message</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/22/food-inspired-childrens-books_n_1617653.html">14 Food-Inspired Children's Books</a>


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