How Parents Can Reduce Holiday Stress

Reduce Your Stress This Holiday Season

Holiday Stress

The holidays are supposed to be fun, right? But with the stress from all the extra work of preparing for the holiday season, parents, especially, can forget to have fun. Parents know that childhood holiday memories stay with us our whole lives. And so we want to be sure our children remember happy times, not ones filled with holiday stress and chaos.​

To make that happen, take stock of what is important to you this holiday season, then make a plan. Don't let your to-do list get the better of you. The benefit of streamlining your holiday chores, of course, is that it leaves you more time with family. Try these tips and tricks for staying organized and (relatively) stress-free.

Set Priorities

Christmas list

Take a moment before the holiday rush begins and consider the things you are most committed to this holiday season--your top priorities. It could be gifts for your children and close friends and relatives or a family get-together. You might have professional commitments that are inflexible, so at the same time prioritize you work life during for the holidays. Try to include at least one thing that is purely for your own personal enjoyment in your top priorities.

Next, add in all the other stuff that you know will come up during the holiday season. And think about what is reasonable to actually do and jettison what is not. In other words, think twice before you promise to make that gingerbread house for the family Christmas celebration or host Thanksgiving dinner.

Be Open to Change

Holiday Traditions

Holiday traditions are important, but they must grow and evolve every year. This may mean skipping a favorite tradition when life becomes too crazy or on the flip side adding something new. Traditions don't die if you skip them just once. In the ebb and flow of life, some things become easier over time. And that's especially true with kids. So try to recognize when your kids are ready for more or different holiday activities.

Cutting your own Christmas tree might have been out questions when you had an infant in tow, but when kids are in elementary school it can be a great family outing. Capturing that moment when they are the right age is important: they might be less interested when they are teenagers, and it might more trouble than it’s worth when they’re toddlers.

If you do have to cut out a favorite activity, like a party or travel, try making up a new, less time-consuming holiday activity for the family. And eventually, it could become part of your annual holiday traditions.

Make a List and Check It (More Than) Twice

Holiday list

If your kids have a Christmas gift list, why shouldn't you? Though the parents’ lists are likely to be less fun because they are probably "to do" lists. But a well-made to-do list is like a gift because it will help you navigate the holiday season with less stress. 

Sit down with your calendar and make a list of big upcoming events for both your personal lives. Then tag each entry with things to do list. For example, if you're having a holiday party, list the things to do for the party separately.

Keep in mind that the earlier you do this, the more likely it is to change (probably expand). But that's OK because the earlier you get a handle on your schedule, the better you will be able to deal with new events as they come in. Then put together a master to-do list organized by date.

You, or others in your life, may have unrealistic expectations about what holiday-related tasks you can accomplish. So, the master "to do" list can help put it in perspective and reduce holiday stress.

Multitask and Delegate


We’ve all been told that multitasking isn't always a good thing, and there is truth to that. However,  during the holiday season efficiency at home and at work is essential. Try to think of ways big and small to combine functions.  

What’s better than multitasking? Delegating! Every year your kids should become better helpers. In the year that has passed, they have gained countless new skills, so put them to work in ways you hadn't before. School-age kids can wrap presents, make small gifts, address cards, clean up, decorate for Christmas, bake goodies. Teens are even more useful. They can do all those things plus run errands and keep track of their own schedule.

And while having kids pick up some more duties during the holidays is one strategy, there are other ways to delegate. If your budget calls for it, you can pay others to do the things you can't get to. It could be a neighboring teen or you could seek help from these short task sites.

Use Technology


Like children who grow every year, technology changes just as rapidly. Don't be stuck in the past, adapt. 

There's an app for most anything--making lists, finding help, booking travel. Find holiday apps that actually help and use them. But make use of other forms of technology as well. Maybe send e-cards instead of paper. Invest in new holiday LED lights. They are so bright and have so many interesting features you might make do with fewer.  And, of course, you can shop online. ​


Shop at Off-Hours or Shop Online

Christmas shopping

Online shopping is a huge time saver during the holidays, but it also  has its problems. Working parents can't necessarily be at home to accept packages. At-home parents may have to explain away the arriving packages to curious children. 

Shopping at off-hours is another helpful strategy.  It might be more efficient to shop on a weekday even though it may involve taking time time off from work or hiring a sitter. Getting it all done in one long day could free you up for more enjoyment. 


Family holidays

Life is about the journey as much as the destination. Enjoy the holiday season, but also just enjoy life. Life doesn't come to a stop during the holidays. Make time for exercise or being with friends or a date with your spouse. These things will reduce your holiday stress and increase your enjoyment.