Parents – 12 Holiday Tips For Balance, Harmony, and Joy

This time of year, we look forward to the excitement and fun of the holiday season: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the New Year are all occasions to rejoice and celebrate with family and friends. With the holidays, though, comes more than the usual amount of juggling, multitasking, planning, making, going, doing … the to-do list grows fast, and it seems to get longer every year.What about you? Do you push yourself to the limits during the holidays? You’re not alone. For busy parents, being maxed out on both time and energy is already your normal state. Add on all the things we do during the holidays, and you’ve got a recipe for overload.This year, I want to share with you some ways to not just survive the holidays, but be invigorated, refreshed, and renewed by them. My Twelve Holiday Tips for Balance and Harmony will help you navigate the holiday season with greater ease, less stress, and more time to enjoy, perhaps more than you have in a long time.

1. First and foremost, take care of yourself.

Did I say first? YES! When we need to cut corners, the first thing to go is our own self-care. But taking care of yourself needs to be at the top of your list. Get enough sleep. Eat well, and on time. Sip water throughout the day. Stay active. Take a moment every so often to breathe.

2. Sort out what matters most — and what doesn’t — in your holiday season.

Chances are there are some things you do every year that you don’t need to or even really want to be doing. Throw those out the window! These can be little things or big things. Your choice! You can only do so much, so save your time and energy for the things that are really important to you.

3. Decide what your “keepers” are for this holiday season.

Look inward and decide what kind of holiday is just right for your family. What are the most important things to YOU this holiday season? There are no right or wrong answers here! Choose the things that are meaningful to you and your family, and focus on those the most.

4. Be imperfect! And love it!

We all know we’re not perfect. But we often spend valuable mental and emotional energy wishing we could do things better. This is especially true around the holidays, when we’re bombarded with images of the model family, the ideal kids, the perfect dinner, the museum-quality home decor. We hold ourselves to impossibly high standards. Take the pressure off yourself. What if you were to actually celebrate what you formerly saw as your shortcomings? The imperfect parts of your holiday could even become some of your best memories.

5. Give a gift to yourself.

This doesn’t have to cost a thing. How about giving yourself a gift certificate? Something like: this certificate entitles the bearer to a nice warm bath. Or a cup of coffee with a friend. An uninterrupted half-hour to devote to your hobby. A night off from household chores. A walk in a nearby park. A book from the library to read — for fun. Whatever gift(s) you give yourself, no guilt allowed! Enjoy your gift to yourself fully, knowing that you work hard, and you deserve it.

6. Spend special time with your child.

This one of the most precious parts of any holiday. Yet parents have told me that sometimes a holiday goes by so fast, they don’t feel like they have time to really connect with their kids. Or that they never seem to get a chance to share the true meaning of the holiday with their kids. Or that they’re so busy trying to keep their kids busy and behaving, that they’ve got little energy left for much else.

Try this: choose in advance a particular time during the day when you and your child will spend some special time together. By consciously setting aside a piece of the day that you can purely enjoy with your kids, you’ll be making space for meaningful holiday moments and cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

7. Choose one tradition per holiday that brings your family together for a moment of joy, reflection, fun, relaxation, or just plain silliness.

Traditions are important — but a holiday can be so jam-packed with activity that the whole day can whiz by with no time to slow down. Make room in your day for one tradition that lets you simply enjoy each other’s company for a time — in a way that’s uninterrupted and just right for your family.

8. Get help.

Delegate as much as you can this holiday season. Ask yourself two questions:

  • WHAT tasks can you delegate?
  • WHO can you delegate the tasks to?

Once you get going on this, you’ll amaze yourself with how creative you can get at getting help! You’ll also be pleasantly surprised at how delegating even the smallest errand, task, or responsibility can give you a big boost in your time and energy.

9. Nevermind what other people think.

The holidays are full of moments when we wonder what other people must be thinking, whether we’re out in public or with friends or even family. Parents of children with special needs report that this is one of the hardest things they have to deal with. I want to encourage you to let go of what other people think. As a parent, your choices are yours and you make them for a reason. You and your family are who you are. No explanations necessary.

10. Take little time-outs when you can.

If you can get a morning to yourself, an afternoon on your own, or a night out, go for it! But it’s hard for many parents of children with special needs to get big chunks of free time. So take little mini-breaks when you can, even when you feel like you have enough on your to-do list to keep busy every second of every day.

11. Try something new.

Studies show that when people are in the habit of trying something new every so often, they feel better mentally, physically, and emotionally. Why not try something new this holiday season? Keep it simple. A new flavor of tea? A different outdoor game after the big dinner? I could go on, but I’ll let you come up with your own ways to put a little of the zing of something new into your holiday this year.

12. Be present.

The more special the day, the more it tends to go by in a flash. Slow it down a little, savor it, cherish it. Now and then, take a moment to stop and really look at and listen to whomever and whatever is around you. Take the day off mentally and emotionally. Give yourself the permission and the freedom to truly enjoy the special moments of the day.

Joan Celebi is the Special Needs Parent Coach, helping you conquer the chaos and create a more manageable, balanced life. Get her FREE “Guide to the Ten Essentials of Balance and Harmony,” and her FREE newsletter with tips and strategies for balanced living — all for parents of children with special needs — at

Related Posts:


  1. Susan Courtney says:

    I really enjoyed this-good information and funny! I especially appreciate the humor-that keeps us sane too.

  2. I need to hear this things once in a while to slow down. Thank you!

  3. my favorite is the last one….BE PRESENT. Too often I think about what I’m planning for or what is ahead. Then, when it’s all over I didn’t feel like I cherished the moments enough.

  4. Thank you for the reminder of what realy matters.
    and for the reminder to take care of “me” so I can care for “them”!!!

  5. My place is always a tip, so worrying about how the place looks isn’t a huge bother, but I like the one about taking a bit of quiet time with DD. Christmas day always seems like a mad riot of presents, sweets, tv, noise, pressure. I like the idea of us both taking a breather with a hug so that she remembers it in a deeper way later.

  6. Family Travel says:

    Wow what excellent advice.
    I have to be honest there have been times when travelling and children donlt seem to have mixed, long flights or drives and how children don’t understand that parents need to relax sometimes.But this is excellent advice to see things in a different way.