Family Focus: Managing Holiday Stress

Family Focus 12/6

TOLEDO (WTOL) - The shopping, the kids' recitals, the decorating and baking; it’s what we love about the holiday season, but it’s also what could lead to a lot of stress this time of year.

“Every day is different. We are super, super busy,” says mother of four Ebone Humes. “We have gymnastics. We have tumbling. We have cheerleading. We have basketball and we have speech.”

That’s just the norm for the Humes family.

The holidays take it up a notch, but Ebone says her family has made an effort to scale back and focus on what’s important.

“Christmas break is kind of our big time to just, ‘we’re done.’ We’re saying no. We’re not saying yes to everything. We’re not going anywhere. We’re just gonna sit down and relax as a family and spend some time together that’s not scheduled,” Ebone said.

Ebone says leading up to Christmas is still busy with gift buying and cookie baking, so she and her husband schedule a date night to help relieve some stress.

“It’s all about the little people and sometimes you forget about yourself, so we do schedule a date night,” Ebone said.

To keep the stress level down, UTMC psychiatrist Dr. Victoria Kelly recommends families actually start planning for the holidays around the time kids are going back to school.

When the holiday season hits, ask yourself regularly how you’re feeling. Dr. Kelly says to ration your weekends and only say yes to the things you have to do or really want to do.

“It’s important to look at the needs of all of the family members, and probably no more than two activities a week would be manageable. Anything beyond that and we tend be overwhelmed and stressed,” says Dr. Kelly.

Dr. Kelly says if there’s an event you feel obligated to attend, have an exit strategy so you can make the most of it for a limited amount of time.

It’s okay to say no, keeping in mind your friends do just want to spend time with you.

“Validate that and say, ‘I would love to hang out, but right now is not a good time,’ and you come up with a time later that you can connect,” said Dr. Kelly.

Money is another stressor this time of year. Dr. Kelly says set a budget and stick to it, which is easier to do when you plan a few months ahead.

She says to also remember the holidays aren’t about all those presents under the tree.

“The more that you focus on materialistic things, rather than experiences and kindness and altruistism, children are actually less happy down the road because of it,” said Dr. Kelly, citing a study.

Ebone agrees, saying the best gift isn’t wrapped nicely with a bow.

“Essentially, the holidays are for spending time with family and building traditions and that’s what we really want to focus on as a family,” says Ebone.

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