It seems hard to believe Hanukkah has already begun, with Christmas and Kwanzaa close on its heels. The holiday season brings such joy to our children; so why can it be so insanity provoking for parents?! Never fear, we About.com Parenting Guides -- along with bloggers from around the Internet -- have teamed up to bring you planning advice, gift ideas, funny stories and tips on surviving the holidays with your sense of humor intact.
Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail
Any parent knows that preparing ahead of time avoids a lot of problems. That's one reason Jennifer Wolf, the About.com Guide to Single Parents, reminds those of us with blended families to negotiate the holiday visitation schedule early. Not only does it help the adults plan and avoid disagreements, it gives our children the security of knowing where they'll be for the holidays.
You can involve your kids in the planning and anticipation of the season with an advent calendar filled with activities for each day leading up to Christmas, suggests Beverly Hernandez, the About.com Guide to Homeschooling. Jennifer O'Donnell, the About.com Guide to Tween Parenting reminds us to leave wiggle room in the schedule for a sick child, last-minute party or other unexpected bump in the road.
Keep the Kids Cool
We adults aren't the only ones prone to overload at holiday time. Katherine Lee, the About.com Guide to School-Age Children suggests taking a breather with your child to help both of you relax -- whether it's a simple dinner together or a board game. Amanda Rock, the About.com Guide to Preschoolers, offers sage advice on helping your little ones enjoy a stress-free holiday season.
Looking for quiet activities to enjoy with your kids? Try Kiss Good Night, a gentle bedtime story for 3 to 6 year olds, reviewed by Elizabeth Kennedy, the About.com Guide to Children's Books. Or hop into the kitchen to try this delicious-looking recipe for challah with a convenient video demonstration, courtesy of A PARENTly Speaking, a blog from the Contra Cost Times by our own Jackie Burrell.
Then, of course, we come to the gifts. Were you one of the lucky few to score a Dance Star Mickey, which is shaping up to be this year's must-have toy? Or could your gift giving be an opportunity to educate your family (a.k.a. share your obsession) about your child's special needs? The always-creative Terri Mauro, About.com Guide to Parenting Special Needs, offers a slew of ideas for holiday shopping, from books, DVDs and T-shirts to products from organizations whose cause you want to support.
If you're handing out duplicate gifts to siblings or cousins in your family tree, you might want to discreetly mark them with a Sharpie to forestall fights when identical items become confused. This is just one of the secrets for handling the holiday hoopla from Susan Adcox, the About.com Guide to Grandparents.
There's only so much we can do to plan and strategize our families into submission. Ultimately, when you're at the mall with a tired preschooler, it helps to have handy some tips for taming temper tantrums such as these suggested by blogger Vivian Kirkfield.
If your "little one" is a college student on winter break, Jackie Burrell, the Young Adults Guide, suggests setting expectations to avoid conflict and survive the holidays, whether your child is sleeping until 2 p.m. -- or staying out until 2 a.m. And Laureen Miles Brunelli, the About.com Guide to Work-at-Home Moms, reminds us all that no matter how organized you'd like to be, there are some years that are crazy no matter what you do. Relax, and enjoy it!
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