Holiday Stressbusters for Parents and Parents-to-Be

Don't convince yourself that you'll be depriving your children of a happy childhood if you're not able to squeeze a million different opportunities for memory-making into a single holiday season.

Yes, it's wonderful to take your kids on a sleigh ride, decorate a gingerbread house together, and whip up a batch of positively mouthwatering Christmas cookies but trying to accomplish all this in a single day is a guaranteed recipe for burnout. And besides, just how wonderful are those memories going to be if you're so exhausted by the end of the day that you end up shouting at your kids about things that normally wouldn't bother you at all?

Speaking of holiday baking, don't be afraid to cut corners on things that don't matter.

While your child may be disappointed if you neglect to make his favorite cookies, he probably couldn't care less if the fruitcake that you serve is store-bought or homemade. (After all, it's a rare kid indeed who actually likes fruitcake!) So rather than trying to make everything from scratch, invest your culinary energies in those areas that are likely to yield the greatest payoff.

Schedule plenty of downtime in the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle.

Rent some holiday videos and curl up on the couch with your kids. Who says that the holiday season has to be insanely busy to be fun? Sometimes the most extraordinary experiences you have as a parent happen when you're not doing the most extraordinary things: reading a child a bedtime story, giving him a bath, or curling up on the couch together watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas for the umpteen millionth time!

Take time to pamper yourself at the end of the day. Toss some peppermint-scented essential oil into your bathwater and light some festive holiday candles. Then soak in the tub while you escape into a magazine or book. You owe it to yourself and your kids to pamper yourself on a regular basis. After all, a happy and relaxed parent is the best present of all.

Happy holidays!

Ann Douglas is the author of The Unofficial Guide to Childcare , Baby Science How Babies Really Work , and The Unofficial Guide to Having A Baby . She writes the monthly "Mom's the Word" column for Canadian Parents Online and is a regular contributor to a number of print and online publications. She and her husband Neil have four children. Ann is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. She can be contacted via her management firm, Page One Productions Inc.

Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario, with their four children Julie, Scott, Erik, and Ian . A fifth child, Laura Ann, was stillborn in 1996 due to a true knot in her umbilical cord.

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to republish granted to