We’ve survived the spooky season only to be catapulted into the official start of the holidays. And if I’m being honest, I already feel on the edge of burnout. Maybe it’s the first cold of the season or the multiple Thanksgivings we attended (not to mention all the holiday travel details still left to coordinate). In any case, I’m reminded that to make it to the end of the year without losing my cool, I need to implement some personal self-care. I imagine there are plenty of other parents feeling the same way, so I’m her with 7 self-care tips for parents heading into the holiday season.
Featured image from our interview with Ariel Kaye by Teal Thomsen.
7 Self-Care Tips for Parents During the Holiday Season
While self-care practices are important all throughout the year, it’s the piling on of parties, plans, and presents to be bought and wrapped that can wear us down during the holidays. What’s more, as parents of little ones, it’s up to us to make the season magical. That means a lot of effort goes into decking the halls and playing Santa. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I get it. And that’s where these self-care tips for parents come in handy.
Ahead, I’m sharing not only my ideas to carve out some peace and quiet, but also why these practices are essential—plus tips for incorporating them into your life. Let’s make it happen.
Prioritize Your Needs
One of the best self-care tips for parents I can give you is to prioritize your needs over anyone else’s. And no, it’s not selfish! Prioritizing your needs ensures you have the energy and emotional well-being to care for your family effectively.
If there is anything on your list that doesn’t bring you joy, consider removing it.
Make a list of your needs and schedule time for self-care activities. Communicate your needs with your partner, friends, and family. And be sure to ask for support when you need it. If there is anything on your list that doesn’t bring you joy, consider removing it. I mean it: allow yourself to do less!
Set Realistic Expectations
Unrealistic expectations can lead to stress and disappointment. Realistic expectations can help you maintain a sense of balance. Reflect on past holiday seasons and set achievable goals. Be open to reevaluating things that may have felt stressful in years past. Practice flexibility and be open to adjustments as needed. Is attending a seven-course meal with toddlers doable? Do you want to mail and address one hundred holiday cards? Check in with yourself and ask how realistic this is. And be honest: are you taking on too much?
It’s all too easy to get swept up in the busyness of the holidays, putting ourselves on auto-pilot as we power through everything we need to do. This year, I challenge you to practice mindfulness before diving into it all. Mindfulness techniques can reduce stress, improve focus, and help you stay present in the moment.
Set aside a few minutes each day for mindfulness exercises. Create a vision board or visualize how you want to feel during the holidays: peaceful, present, and loved by family and friends. When you can give yourself the time to focus on what truly matters, it’s easier to let go of anything that isn’t serving you.
Less Screen Time, More Real Connections
Reducing screen time promotes face-to-face interactions and healthier family bonding. Set screen time limits for both yourself and your children. Use the extra time for quality family activities or relaxation. Social media often presents a polished highlight reel for most people. During the holidays, this effect can be even more pronounced, with everyone posting pictures of perfect trees, family photos, or matching pajama sets.
For some of us, the pressure to do it all can feel overwhelming and disheartening. If social media is making you feel inadequate, consider taking a break. (We dive into the importance and step-by-step details of taking a holiday social media detox.) Remember, comparison is the thief of joy. Instead, reach out to friends and family who understand your challenges and values. They can provide emotional support and connection through calls, texts, or video chats.
Regular exercise is a potent stress reliever and mood enhancer, yet it often gets pushed aside, especially when we have guests in town or when our kids are home from school. Instead, continue your fitness routine or explore creative ways to stay active, like family walks, dance parties, or holiday-themed workouts.
Did you know that exercising may reduce your bad mental health days by 40%? In my family, we are big fans of healthy competition, from pickleball matches to relay races involving the entire family, which can help reduce everyone’s stress levels. There’s also nothing wrong with carving out some alone time to stick to your exercise routine. Modeling self-care for your children will only help reinforce the importance of it for themselves. Get started with our favorite workouts.
Practice Good Sleep Habits
I’ll be the first to admit that I often stay up late during the holidays to get things done while my kids are sleeping. While checking off items on my to-do list in silence can be enjoyable, it can lead to rough mornings and long days. Add holiday parties that keep you out late and occasional holiday alcohol consumption, and you might find yourself navigating the holidays with a sleep deficit.
Lack of sleep is no joke. Anxiety and sleep deprivation have been proven to go hand-in-hand. Self-care starts with good sleep habits. Make sure you’re getting a full eight hours of rest. Consider limiting your alcohol intake to ensure sound sleep, and don’t forget the power of a 20-minute power nap. If you struggle to fall asleep, try implementing some healthy sleep habits.
Make Space for Emotions
While some of us feel like it’s the happiest time of the year, others may feel sad or depressed during the holidays. Regardless of which emotions the holidays evoke, it’s important to make time to reflect on and embrace them as they come up. This can involve a gratitude practice or picking up the phone to share your feelings with someone. If you find yourself feeling lonely during the holidays, make a plan to get yourself out of the house and into the community. There are numerous opportunities to get involved during this time of year.
By understanding the importance of these self-care practices and integrating them into your daily routine, you can navigate the holiday season more smoothly and savor the precious moments with your family. I hope you can incorporate these self-care tips for parents into your life and make the most of your time with family! Happy holiday season, everyone!