For some parents, this season is merry and bright. For others, it’s like the “Santa gone wrong” photo with kids screaming and Santa looking like he needs a serious vacation. If your holiday is starting to look more like the second scenario, take heed; there are tips and tricks for keeping your wits about you and having lots of fun throughout the holiday season.

Here Are a Few Tips to Brighten Your Holidays

    1. Keep to your routine. I know it’s difficult with holiday gatherings and obligations, but tired kids and tired parents are never a good combo. Keeping young ones to a normal lights-out time (even when Grandma objects!) is a great way to keep crankiness at bay.
    2. Manage expectations. They’re making a list and adding to it with every commercial-right? It helps to limit media time this month as every toy company in the universe will be wooing your kids with the latest and greatest of everything! Also, have a frank talk with your kids about their wish lists and set limits you can live with. TIP: make sure your kiddos have at least as many items on their GIVING lists as on their wish lists.
    3. Consider gifts of time. While not as glitzy or glamorous as the giant dollhouse or toy robot, certificates for one-on-one time with you are a hot commodity for kids. They also make great gifts for kids to give grandparents and even siblings.
    4. Share the work. Hosting a party? Baking treats? Wrapping gifts? Get everyone involved! Even little ones can share in the process – and by working together, you’ll not only lighten the load, you’ll be making great memories while you’re at it!
    5. Use shortcuts. It’s all right if the cake isn’t made from scratch, or the last minute gift is in a bag rather than fancily wrapped, or dinner is served buffet-style instead of plated. The season is about the spirit and the people you love. Give yourself the gift of personal time rather than the illusion of Pinterest perfection.
    6. Focus on service. When we focus on what we can do as a family to help others, it helps keep the hustle and hurry of the season in perspective. While serving may feel like something ‘else to do’ – giving back is so rewarding that it’s ‘worth the add.’ Not sure where to start? Call any church or faith-based organization and ask them about their community service projects that your family can get involved in, or check in with your school’s guidance counselor.

I hope this season is filled with warm, wonderful moments for you and yours and that it’s way more joyful than stressful! From our home to yours – wishing you the happiest of holidays!

About the Author

Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic – A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.