Parenting Holiday Stress

Holiday Parenting Stress Tips

The holidays can add to the normal stress that parents suffer throughout the year. In this Q&A, find out what Dr. Linda recommends to alleviate parenting stress and get a free resource to help your kids learn to study.

holiday parenting stress tips for any time of year.Dear Dr. Linda,

I know the holiday season is supposed to be a joyous and fun time for kids and adults. But I have to tell you that I begin dreading the holiday season around Halloween and don’t calm down until after New Years. Every year seems to be the same. I end up getting crazy with shopping, baking, gift wrapping, sending out holiday cards, etc.

My youngest, Evan, now in fifth grade and my daughter, Maddie, now in eighth grade, always seem to start doing poorly in school at this time of the year. I know why. I usually help them with their homework and stuff, but I don’t have the time or strength to help them during the holidays. My husband is rarely around because he travels for business.

Well, this year’s not any different. Last night, Evan was so confused by his homework that he needed more help than usual. I was so stressed out that I couldn’t figure it out either. The combination of the homework and my inability to help caused him to have a total meltdown. Then this morning I got a call from Maddie’s school counselor to tell me that her teachers would like to have a meeting with me to discuss Maddie’s recent drop in grades and her attitude.

How do other parents do this?

Mom dreading holidays

Dear Mom Dreading Holidays,

I talk to so many moms who feel the same way. Just holiday preparation can be overwhelming without having to deal with kids’ school work and after school activities.

School, homework and some free time for most kids takes up their whole day. If they can’t do their homework or can’t understand it, Mom or Dad often jump in to help.

When Mom or Dad are too stressed out to help, kids often take it personally and will start acting out. Kids need their parents’ support continuously. This doesn’t mean they can’t do their schoolwork without you, but just knowing that you’re there and accessible sometimes is enough. Maddie’s grades and her attitude are the symptoms you’re seeing.

Since you’ve had this experience in the past, I recommend you make some changes. You need to regroup so you can enjoy the holiday season. You also need to maintain structure in your home so your kids can continue to function well at school.

Talk to your kids and explain what’s going on. Tell them how overwhelmed you are. Make a plan together that will work for everyone. Teach them what to do when they become overwhelmed and stressed out. 

Instead of punishing Maddie for her low grades and attitude, talk about what’s been happening to you and explain, that as a result, you haven’t been there for her lately. Then listen carefully to her. Talk with her instead of “at” her. Acknowledge how she feels and what she thinks.

If Maddie continues to do poorly in school and has an attitude issue, then her behavior is not coming from the present situation. It’s only making it worse. Have Maddie talk with the school counselor or psychologist. Your pediatrician may also be able to recommend someone for Maddie to see. Find out what’s causing the problems. Problems can be solved once you know the cause.

You have options too. To begin with, you don’t have to do everything. Look at your list of holiday tasks. What can you cross off? Baking may be one of them. Buy baked goods instead. If wrapping presents takes a lot of time, use tissue paper and gift bags. If you’re having several parties or big dinners, do fewer and use caterers. Purchase gifts throughout the year instead of shopping for everything at once…you can also take advantage of great sales this way. Ask your friends how they manage their time during the holidays and what they’re choosing not to do.

By the way, it’s okay to go on vacation during the holidays if things get too stressed for everyone.

Have a very Happy Holiday,

Dr. Linda Silbert

P.S. Games make great presents. As my holiday gift for your children, you can get two of my fun, educational games or my How to Study eBook at 

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Phonics Centered — Consistent with Orton-Gillingham — Multisensory