Managing Holiday Stress: Self-Care Strategies for Parents

by Charlie Fletcher December 14, 2023

asleep at the computer during christmas


While the holiday season is supposed to be a time of celebration and togetherness, certain stressors can make this feel impossible. The demands of the holidays can feel overwhelming and cause you to put yourself on the back burner, especially for parents. However, to have a successful celebration, you must first take care of yourself. That way, you can show up fully for your children and actually enjoy the holidays.

Ways the Holidays Can Exacerbate Stress for Parents

Between planning and hosting gatherings, shopping for gifts, managing busy schedules, and ensuring your children have a magical holiday experience, this time of year can become overwhelming quite quickly. Some of the most cited reasons parents feel this seasonal stress include:

  • Doing extra shopping and holiday tasks;
  • Keeping the family healthy;
  • Dealing with household finances;
  • Planning family gatherings;
  • Making holiday meals;
  • Receiving criticism from family members about holiday plans.

Sometimes, this stress can negatively affect your enjoyment of the holidays — but also your children’s enjoyment of the holidays. You undoubtedly want this to be a magical time for them. Don’t prevent that by allowing your health and happiness to fall by the wayside. Use the following tips to take care of yourself and let the holiday magic take center stage.

Tips to Take Care of Yourself and Still Celebrate the Magic

Self-care as a parent is important all the time. It can better prepare your mind and body to cope with stressful situations and be there when your kids need you most. This, in itself, proves that self-care is anything but selfish. Take solace in that when trying out some of the following this holiday season. Then, and only then, can you relish in the holiday magic and show up as your best self.

Practice Retail Self-Care

The holidays, for better or for worse, are often centered on consumerism. This can cause you to feel overwhelmed with shopping duties, especially if your children have a wishlist a mile long. Luckily, you can keep up with trends without overspending. Try:

  • Keeping an eye out for holiday sales, often on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or for other limited times;
  • Using rewards from certain programs that you’ve racked up points with throughout the year;
  • Comparing prices from different retailers to find the best deal;
  • Avoiding slapping everything on credit cards and, instead, sticking to a budget;
  • Preparing by paying down your existing debt and saving up before the holidays.

Being prepared is key, but you can still save money and check off gifts on your list by shopping smart. In addition, make sure to treat yourself when possible. For instance, if you have an eye on a fuzzy pair of slippers, purchase them for yourself. This can provide you comfort when walking around the chilly household in the early morning hours quietly placing presents or trimming the tree.

Get Everyone Involved

A significant source of holiday stress is feeling like all of the responsibilities fall on your shoulders. You may feel as though you don’t want to delegate tasks to your partner, family members, or kids for fear of inconveniencing them. However, it can enhance their holiday experience by getting involved. Make everyone feel included at events during the holiday season by giving them tasks like setting the table, checking on pets, or wrapping presents.

If you allow yourself to accept help, you can sleep in and still pull off the holiday celebration of your and your kids’ dreams. Quality sleep is crucial to functioning properly. Make sure you are getting adequate snooze time to be the hero of the holidays.

Take a Step Back and Enjoy Yourself

While catering to everyone else during the holidays is noble, the season is about more than just giving. You should give to yourself, as well. After all, your loved ones want you to be happy just as much as you want the holidays to be happy for them. In addition to your parenting duties, try taking a walk to boost your feel-good hormones. This can be a family walk or a solo walk, but focus on the crunching of the snow under your boots and really cherish this time when you get to relax and revel in the magic of the season.

Amidst the chaos of the holidays, make sure to step back and remember why you are celebrating. Regardless of the holiday, togetherness is at the forefront. Take a step back and look at the home you’ve built, the decorations you’ve created, and the love you share to really feel the magic of the holidays. As a parent, it's essential to remember that the holiday season is not just about fulfilling duties and checking off a to-do list. It's a time to relish in the enchanting magic that can be found in the simple moments shared with your children.

Embrace the wonder in their eyes as they decorate the tree, savor the joy of baking cookies together, and cherish the laughter during family gatherings. By prioritizing these experiences and allowing yourself to be present in the joy and wonder of the season, you not only create lasting memories for your children but also find a bountiful source of happiness and fulfillment for yourself, making the holidays truly special.

Charlie Fletcher


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