While school breaks and holidays can be fun and exciting, it can also be stressful for you and your family. Here are 10 tips for you and your family to stay mentally healthy. 

  1. Take care of you.
    Remember that it’s okay to take a step back to breathe. Make sure you are taking care of yourself by getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthy. This also shows role modeling for your children.

  2. Plan ahead.
    Planning ahead can help reduce stress. We know going shopping or doing other activities can be stressful -- and even a little bit of a hassle. Try to schedule outings at times that don’t interfere with normal meal and nap times and give yourself plenty of time to get everything done.

  3. Try to maintain your routine.
    Try to keep bedtimes and mealtimes on the same schedule. And if you have a yoga class or other activity as part of your routine, stick to it. Keeping with your usual routine can also alleviate stress.

  4. Be mindful about changes in routines.
    Holiday events and school breaks often do not follow your typical household routines. Being mindful about deviations in bedtime routines, nap schedules, and mealtimes is important to help reduce stress. Be prepared with snacks, PJ’s, and comfort items (blankets, favorite stuffed animals) to help make these changes in routine easier.

  5. Talk to your kids about what to expect at functions and events.
    As parents, we have an idea of how family functions and events will work. Young children don’t have this same knowledge base and memory to recall these events from year to year. Save some time to talk with your child in the week leading up to holidays and school breaks about what specific family events will look like, who will be there, and what they may be expected to do during these times. 

  6. Practice for meeting new relatives.
    It is likely your young children do not recall who certain family members are or how they are related to you and your family. If children do not see certain relatives often, seeing them again is similar to meeting them for the first time. 

    Practicing before the event increases the likelihood it will go smoothly and reduce your child’s hesitation. For example: “Sally, tomorrow we are going to grandma’s house and we will see a few other relatives there that are part of our family but you may not remember since we don’t see them as often. They will want to say hi and ask you about school or an activity you like to do since they don’t get to see you as often as grandma does. Let’s practice answering a few simple questions and feeling comfortable with what to say.”

  7. Provide frequent praise.
    If children are adapting well to a new situation and meeting your expectations, praise their positive efforts. Praise should not be reserved just for extraordinary events but used to help kids understand you appreciate their efforts and want them to maintain positive behavior. 

  8. Perfection ≠ better.
    Your kids, family and friends won’t remember if your house is a little messy. It’s okay if you don’t get to all the holiday activities you wanted to attend. But they will remember the laughter and the time you spent with them. So don’t sweat the small stuff, and you’ll be sure to enjoy the holidays more this year!

  9. Take a break to give back.
    Studies show that practicing kindness can increase your sense of happiness, and reduce negative thoughts and stress. And we have ideas for you to do! Take the On Our Sleeves Acts of Kindness Challenge! › 

  10. Enjoy the season.
    We know — it’s much easier said than done. With all the rushing around, take a minute to smile about the batch of cookies you made with your kids (or in some cases, burnt.) Or take a moment to enjoy all of the decorations up in your home. Be present in the moment and enjoy.