Peaceful Parenting Even Through Holiday Stress

4 Practical tips for peaceful parenting even through holiday stress. #Christmas #parentingThe holidays can sometimes be super-stressful and can leave even the most peaceful of moms feeling snappy with her kids.

As we’ve talked about before, stress is a really common trigger. Moms who are stressed and overwhelmed are much more likely to yell at their kids. Since our goal is peaceful parenting, let’s dive in and talk about some common stressors, and how you can alleviate those to avoid blowing up at your family.

1. Family relationship stress

The first common stressor that we have during the holidays is family dynamics. Around the holidays, most people have to interact with family or friends who they may not get along with, or who may be outright toxic.

We may dread coming face to face with that one person who always seems to push our buttons. We might even daydream about how we can avoid that person altogether.

While we may not be able to avoid family drama, we can control how we respond to it. In order to make family encounters less stressful, be sure to set some boundaries with yourself. If someone pushes your buttons, you don’t have to engage with them. Just don’t take the bait! It isn’t worth it.

Be sure to take breaks as often as you can. Stepping out for some fresh air every now and then can help you regain your composure and remind yourself not to take things personally.

2. Financial stress

The holidays can get really expensive. Between buying gifts, decorations, stocking stuffers…oh, and don’t forget all the extra food for Christmas dinner. Plus travel expenses if you have to go out of town…whew! It really begins to add up!

If we’re stressed out about money, this could distract us from the things that truly matter, and could compound other stressors.
One way to combat the money stress is to understand that less is sometimes more. It’s okay to cut corners sometimes!

No one will notice if you have three side dishes instead of four. If someone gets a gift that’s on clearance, they will appreciate the thought.
Also, don’t under-estimate the power of sentimental or homemade gifts. One of my favorite gifts I ever received was a sweet hand-written letter from a relative. It honestly meant more to me than any store-bought gift could have ever.

And chances are, the gifts you get your kids will end up broken or not played with. The kids will remember how you made them feel, not what you bought them. They’ll value the time you spend with them, way more than any gift money can buy.

3. The stress of high expectations

The holidays are such a meaningful time of year, usually filled with good, nostalgic memories of the past and we often dream about the perfect Christmas.

We might imagine our family happily decorating a magazine-worthy Christmas tree. But reality looks much different. In real life, the kids are fighting over whether we should use white lights or colorful lights, your favorite ornament falls to the floor and breaks into a thousand pieces, and the tree falls over as soon as you put the star on top.

So how do we fight against the stress of high expectations? Well, one thing we can do is to remind ourselves that things rarely turn out the way we imagine they will. Having high expectations for how things will go, or how someone will react to a gift, really sets ourselves up for failure or hurt feelings.

It’s best to keep our expectations low, not saying that we should be pessimistic, but just more rooted in reality. We don’t have to over-complicate things for them to be meaningful or special.

Related podcast: 4 Perfectionist Parenting Pitfalls

4 The stress of busyness

The holidays are the busiest time of year. There’s shopping to do, cards to write and address, recipes to cook, gifts to wrap, parties to attend, decorations to put up…and don’t forget the added pressure to make sure your children have special memories and are sufficiently taught the true meaning of Christmas.

And that’s on top of the normal stuff like laundry, dishes, and school work. I’m tired just thinking about all that!
Being super busy can lead to exhaustion and burn out. It can also cause us to miss out on the small moments. The holidays come and go and we were too busy to enjoy them or soak up the moments.

This year, let’s be intentional about saying no so that we don’t have to be quite so rushed. If someone asks you to volunteer to host a Christmas party, don’t feel obligated to say yes. It’s perfectly okay to say, “I wish I could, but I can’t this year.”
Or if you’re asked to bake cookies or coordinate something and you’re already stretched too thin, just say no. “I’d love to help, but no, not this time,” is a perfectly acceptable response.

You also don’t have to attend every function you’re invited to. We have a large extended family and it is literally impossible for us to be in five places at once. My thought is this…if a family member is THAT upset you can’t make it to Christmas, perhaps they could spend some time with you one of the OTHER 364 days of the year.

About guilt…

And let me add, you can say no without the stress of guilt. I know what it’s like to be a people-pleaser. I know what it’s like to experience guilt when you can’t do something or when you have to say no.

So friend, if you’re feeling guilty or stressed about any of these things, take a deep breath…and give yourself permission to let it go. Replace that guilt with thankfulness and joy. You got this!


Join Marianna Chambers as she talks about practical ways to become a more peaceful parent. Having children is a wonderful blessing, but it can also be quite stressful. Every day we hear from moms just like you who are struggling to be the gentle parent they want to be. Moms desperately want to raise their children on a firm foundation of love, but those sweet kids sure know how to push our buttons. (And boy, do they push them!)

Marianna Chambers is a counselor, parenting coach, blogger, homeschool mom, and best-selling author. She’s passionate about supporting and encouraging moms. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram, or read her blog here. You can also join her private Facebook group for Christian moms on a peaceful parenting mission.

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