10 Ways to Reduce Family Stress (For the Holidays and Beyond)

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10 Ways to Reduce Family Stress (For the Holidays and Beyond)

1.) Use the word “NO” liberally when it comes to adding new commitments to your schedule, especially commitments that recur weekly or monthly. 2.) Turn some “Yes’s” into “No’s.” For a season, eliminate some negotiable activities from your schedule and see if you truly miss them. (Examples of non-negotiable’s are sleep, income generating activity, school attendance and study for students.) If you don’t miss an eliminated activity, then don’t add it back into the calendar.  Add activities back in to your schedule only if they play a specific and calculated role in meeting your family’s goals and only after careful thought and prayer. 3.) You be the host. If you have a lot of family members who want to spend time with your family for Thanksgiving or Christmas, YOU should think about being the one to host the gatherings.  That way, all of the family gets to have time with you, but it’s on one night instead of five. Also, you might find that your kids take pride in being the host and that it is a source of great family memories. 4.) Set event limits. Before you are in the thick of it, determine how many holiday activities you are going to attend outside your home. Set a limit and stick to it.  Keep in mind that school and extra curricular activities will have Christmas events and usually take up several of those time slots. 5.) Limit the amount of extracurricular activities that your kids participate in. Our family limits it to one artistic (musical) and one sports activity per child. If you have more than two children though, even this might be too much. You need to take a very hard look at how much your kids are signed up for. Participating in sports teams or clubs that require traveling should be approached very cautiously and should be seen for what they are: a life changing decision for your family. 6.) Establish a “Time Budget.” This is not meant to be legalistic, but rather an exercise to see if you are spending the majority of your time on things that align with your overarching values and goals for your family. We have to sleep, we have to work to earn income, our children have to get an education. Those things take up a great amount of time.  But what are we doing with the rest of it? Use a spreadsheet like the one here and then ask yourself some hard questions. 7.) Prioritize– Of the negotiable activities that you say “yes” to, list them in order of importance. Place a higher value on relationships then tasks. Take into account this hierarchy: God first, spouse second, kids third. 8.) Set up “Family work times.” Chores are a fact of life, and in a family it’s important that these are shared as much as possible. A great way to get a lot done quickly is to have a set block of time (30 min-1 hour) where all members of the family will work in a concentrated fashion, with an earned reward at the end of the time period. For a family of 4 working for 30 minutes, this is accomplishing 2 hours of work. Working within predetermined time limits will increase productivity and encourage efficiency. It will also feel more like a game or challenge then work. Example: “Okay everyone, we’re all going to do as many things on our list of chores as we can for the next 45 minutes (set a timer) and if we all focus the whole time, we are going to the park for a picnic.” Make sure that every family member has a predetermined list of appropriate chores, and make sure that kids have had a thorough training session on all their assigned chores. Don’t ask your 4-year-old to clean the bathrooms during the family work time if they’ve never done it before. 9.) Schedule “un-scheduled” time. Every week, block off a day or a few hours where no-one is allowed to put anything on the schedule.  During this time, try to “unplug” from electronics and just enjoy being together. You could go for a picnic at the park, hang out in your backyard, play board games, or take naps…you get the idea! 10.) Constantly re-evaluate. Remember that this is a balancing act that you will always have to work to maintain.  Just when you think you have things under control, your schedule will creep up on you again.  Busyness is one of the most common tools that Satan uses to render us ineffective as Christians. And a hectic schedule really ramps up the family stress. Keep in mind that life naturally ebbs and flows, and you will have seasons where you will have to let things fall by the wayside in order to manage the special needs of a child, your spouse or yourself. As a rule, err on the side of being under-scheduled rather than over-scheduled. Better to commit to too few things than too many. Work with wide margins! Here are some related articles from Family Matters Website Holiday Traditions and Recipes Happy Thanksgiving From All Of Us At Family Matters! Kimmel Family Traditions and Holiday Tips Holiday Greediness For more help in slowing your family schedule and reducing family stress read Dr. Kimmel’s book Little House on the FreewayHelp for the Hurried Home, also available in audio book format. Makes a great Christmas gift!

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