Scottish musician and songwriter Thomas Oliphant wrote the popular Christmas carol “Deck the Halls.”
Oliphant was one of seven children, however, he was never married and had no children, so he probably couldn’t fathom what I go through to shop for, feed, entertain and referee my seven children or the challenge of having children home from school all day during the extended holiday season.
For me, “Deck the halls with boughs of holly” translates into my children decking or tripping each other while running through the halls hollering at the top of their lungs.
And, “tis the season to be jolly” for some parents translates into, “Can I have seven hours with no one crying, fighting, complaining—or repeatedly saying, “I’m bored” and “I’m hungry” or asking, “Can I have a snack?” and “What are we doing today?”
Here are six “P’s” you can do to help you—and your kids—have a happy, healthy and stress-free holiday season.
Partnership: It’s important to establish partnership so the whole family knows they all have to work together. I believe that teamwork makes the dream work and partnership gives everyone on the team ownership, responsibility and accountability for their part of the plan. More importantly, having a partnership shows my children that their thoughts and opinions matter.
Plan: Once a partnership has been established we develop a plan that answers the following questions:
- Who is doing what?
- What are we doing?
- When will things get done?
- Where are we going?
- How will we celebrate?
Participate: Whether it’s setting the table, cooking, reading stories, shopping, doing art projects, putting toys away or decorating; each person has a responsibility. Everyone’s participation alleviates the stress and pressure of mom and dad doing everything on our own.
Patience: A stress-free holiday season with my children requires having plenty of patience. However, everyone needs to exercise patience. The whole family should strive to stay calm and:
- Resist the urge to yell
- Watch discouraging facial expressions
- Not get bent out of shape when things aren’t going their way
Peace: A peaceful home doesn’t necessarily translate into a quiet home. It means creating opportunities for peace by:
- Respecting each other’s spaces and property
- Having a designated nap, quiet and reading time
- Doing puzzles together
- Having quiet tech time—kids can play on their devices in their own rooms with headphones or the volume down
- Consistently rewarding good behavior
- Enforcing consequences for inappropriate behavior
Prioritize: My priorities are categorized in four ways:
- Quality Time vs. Quantity Time. I want to enjoy and live fully in every moment with my children. This means spending quality time together doing a few things rather than doing a lot of busy things.
- Memories and Mess vs. Clean and Stress. I focus more on making memories than the house being clean. Things are going to be out of place, spills will happen and things may get broken. As long as the house is still standing and everyone is alive, we are okay.
- My Family vs. Yours. Simply stated, I don’t compare myself or family to others. I focus on what is going on in my home with my family and I am less concerned about what others are doing.
- Self-care. As you pour out and give of yourself to others, you need to give back to yourself. You can do this by:
- Having at least 30 minutes of personal time
- Speaking positive affirmations to yourself
- Listening to soothing music
- Taking time for your favorite hobby, like playing golf
- Taking a long hot bath and praying that no one knocks on your door
As you are preparing for the holiday season, remember the six P’s: partnership, plan, participate, patience, peace and prioritize. Whatever occasion you celebrate, embrace the fun, laughter, love and chaos—while making timeless memories with your family and friends.
From my family to yours, have a happy, healthy and stress-free holiday season.
Charlotte Avery, The Family Strategist™, is an author, speaker and coach who takes women from overwhelmed to overjoyed in marriage, motherhood and the marketplace. Charlotte is the wife of one, mom of seven and the owner of no pets.