It's the most wonderful time of the year — or so you keep telling yourself, teeth clenched, as the stress of the holidays mounts. The shopping, the baking, the shopping and card making, the list just goes on and on.

Some mummies confessed that one thing that keeps them stress-free with kids over the holidays is to send them to fun camps or activity classes. While another mum says that she squirrels away some of her kids' unopened birthday presents throughout the year, so that come Christmas time she's got a stash of gifts for her four children.

Whatever your method is, it’s really important to just de-stress the whole holiday season. The key is to not go overboard on things and do anything that takes you more than 30 minutes to carry out.

Whether you’re traveling, wrapping presents or preparing treats, here are more tips to make the holidays less stressful:

Pay close attention once per day

Parents find themselves scattered over the holidays. Sometimes we forget that children need our time more than ever when things become hectic. We can give the gift of attention every day, without paying a penny to a toy store. Parents will find joy in the way a child’s eyes light-up during the 15 to 30 minutes set aside to read together or play a simple board game. Those few minutes lay the foundation of connection to children, and show love more than any Lego set or teddy bear.


Holiday travel

Millions of people are going to travel over the holidays. If you’re heading out with your children, whether in the air or on the road, you want to prevent little meltdowns.

Assemble kid-size snacks that you can hand out during your trip. Put them in small Ziploc bags or suction-cup bowls that will stick to the tray table, so your kids won’t spill food all over the place.

Bring along some fun dollar-store items, like small toys or colouring books, to reward your kids for good behaviour. Tell them, “After an hour or so of being quiet, of listening to mum and dad, you get to open a little present.”


Don’t try to please everyone

Someone — a parent, grandparent or in-law –will be unhappy. But, as a rule, the children will not be — and it’s the little things that they will remember, like time spent playing a board game or teaching you to operate their toys.

Remember your stress can become your children’s stress

It’s a stressful time for many people. And even though we love our kids and they are lots of fun, they often magnify that stress. Even worse, our stress can trickle down to them, turning a happy holiday into a Noel nightmare.


Holiday baking

Double or triple any cookie recipe and place the leftover batter in ice cube trays. Seal them in a plastic bag and pop them in the freezer. When it’s time for the party, just take out the “batter cubes” and bake as you normally would. Voila! Quick, freshly-baked cookies.


Find support and take care of yourself

Negative memories of past seasons sometimes resurface during the holidays, often adding more stress. Surround yourself and your children with safe, supportive people. Being with others can provide strength and 
nurture during a difficult time.