NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio ( WJW)- We’re heading into the most wonderful time of the year! But it’s also one of the most stressful times for parents. Doctors say in December, parents tend to push self-care to the side, which can leave an impact on our children.
With so many kids on the nice list this year, the Santa Clause at Great Northern Mall sure has a busy few weeks ahead! But even though Santa has to check his list twice, it’s parents who have to get through their extremely long “to do” list.
“I’m doing most of the shopping,” says Alex Babjack, mother of two young children. “I’m going to start wrapping stuff soon and I have to make sure everything is done and decorated.”
With all the hustle and bustle this month, doctors say parents tend to push off self-care because there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
“When you have something for the kids’ school or you’re cooking for a holiday meal or packing for a trip to go visit someone the first to go are self-care activities,” said Dr. Matthew Sacco, a health and sports psychologist at The Cleveland Clinic. “So not only do have an increase in stress but also have a decrease in the very things we were using through the year to manage that stress.”
To get through the season Dr. Sacco has a few tips for parents. He says you should set family expectations ahead of time, try and stay on a regular sleep schedule, space out the holiday activities, and keep exercising. He says you can bundle up the entire family and go out for a walk 20-30 minutes a day. He also wants people to remember that social media isn’t always reality and we shouldn’t compare our holidays to those we see online.
Dr. Sacco says when parents are tense children can feel it, and they may act out.
“The kids aren’t going to verbalize ‘this is stressful’ and as result, it’s much more likely you’ll see some of those behavioral challenges,” said Dr. Sacco. “Or you’ll see moments as a parent where you go ‘Woah, where did that come from?’”
The holidays were already a stressful time but now on top of that, you add a pandemic. Dr. Sacco wants all of us to remember it’s okay to say no.
“It’s your family so you have to set forth the rules and the guidelines that are important to you and your family,” Dr. Sacco said. “It’s your family, your house, your rules.”
And remember the busy days are all worth it for parents when we see those smiling faces Christmas morning. Even if it’s the man in the big red suit who gets all the credit!