Danielle Aubin, LCSW
5 Ways The Holidays Are Especially Stressful For Parents + Ways To Cope
I am always surprised by how difficult we can make our lives in the name of fun or "making memories." At what point does it become so stressful that it's not even worth it? The holidays are cool and all but it is not 100% a life necessity to celebrate them yet many of us feel like it is! And no, it won't traumatize your children if you decide to have a more toned-down holiday this year.
Although I follow my own advice, I was surprised to notice how stressful the holidays have been for me. Just the simple questions of "how many presents should I buy each kid?" or "Who will we be spending Christmas with?" to more esoteric questions of "Am I being festive enough?" "Will my children experience the same magic of the holidays as I did?"
A part of me wants to opt out entirely. I am not materialistic, I am not religious and I feel no connection to Santa or Hanukkah in particular. But then I think back to my childhood and the excitement I felt on Christmas eve and during Hanukkah and I don't want my children to miss out on that. So I am trying to strike a bargain; to create happy Christmas/Hanukkah memories without having to go all out. I have to admit it is not easy to do. The societal pressure to give our kids tons of gifts, sweets, eggnog, and in-person Santa experiences is overwhelming at times.
Ultimately I know that you can't have both. You can't have the most exciting and event-filled Christmas without the concomitant anxiety and stress. Something has to give. For me, that means fewer presents and fewer activities so that I can be a more relaxed and happy mom. As much as my children love presents, they benefit even more from someone modeling self-care and prioritizing mental health over social obligations and pressure. Perhaps the best gift I can give my children is keeping their mom healthy and mentally well.
Sometimes we need to step back and notice how our obligations and the resulting stress affects us. Especially when many of them are beyond the bare necessities of life. We need to ask ourselves: What can I let go of in order to improve my well-being? Where is this pressure coming from? How can I create the right balance for myself and my family?