Family fun, food and festivities—it’s what the holidays are supposed to be about. But with all the hustle and bustle, the season is often tiring and stressful. Hockey tournaments, school events, family potlucks, work gatherings…the list of responsibilities seems endless. Here are a few tips to help de-stress your holidays and keep the family’s healthy eating and activity schedules on track.
- Know your commitments. Record everyone’s social, work, hockey and seasonal commitments on one calendar in the kitchen or family room. Include time for helping with holiday tasks, such as shopping, baking and gift-wrapping.
- Learn to say “no.” Don’t say yes to an event or project that will leave you feeling overwhelmed. When time and energy are stretched thin, nobody wins. Friends and colleagues will understand if you aren’t able to participate in everything.
- Align the troops…and the reserves! Share household responsibilities with your partner and children. Schedule extra hands to help prepare meals, do laundry, make beds and clean up. Talk to other hockey parents and plan a carpool schedule for practices.
- Maintain good habits. Try not to change your workout routine or sleep schedule or veer from your family’s favourite weeknight meals. Maintaining the healthier aspects of a normal routine helps keep your mind and body on track.
- Make a list. Check it twice. Before heading to the grocery store, sit down and plan meals for the week. Don’t forget to check for favourite holiday recipes. By having all the essential ingredients on hand, you’ll be able to whip things together without the frustration of a frantic last-minute grocery run.
- Make double batches. You offered to bring food to several parties? This is not the time to try something new. Choose a family favourite, make twice as much and freeze the extra portions. There will be enough food for the gatherings plus extra for a quick weeknight family dinner.
- Be selectively traditional. It can be tempting to try and re-create special holiday memories each year. But as children grow and everyone’s responsibilities change, maintaining every holiday tradition isn’t always feasible. Choose a few traditions that are important for the entire family. Maybe that means baking two kinds of cookies instead of ten.
- Suggest potluck. Hosting a festive family dinner can be stressful and expensive. Delegate dishes. Ask guests to bring side dishes, drinks and desserts. Let the host cook the main dish.
- Pick and choose. The variety of foods offered at many gatherings can be tempting. Instead of sampling everything, try a couple of dishes you don’t usually eat or ones you really enjoy. By sticking to just two or three choices, you’re more likely to leave satisfied but not stuffed.
- Take a night off. Clear your family’s calendar one evening and enjoy a quiet night together. Rent a movie, play board games or sit by the fire. A little quiet quality time might be just what everyone needs to re-energize.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the whirlwind of the holiday season. Try to stay in tune with the realities of your time and your family’s. Use these tips to help lessen the stress of the festive season and make the holidays more enjoyable.