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15 Ways to Find Joy During the Holidays

Being a parent is challenging enough somedays, now throw in the magic of Christmas and chances are you’re over the top exhausted. We all want our children to have a wholesome childhood filled with fond memories. The kind of childhood that shapes them into the amazing adults we are aiming for them to become. But let’s face it, it can be very exhausting when you’re always trying to make things great. Especially when it comes to the holidays. Which is why 15 ways to find joy during the holidays is extremely important.

Advertising lays the pressure on thick when it comes to holiday traditions and gifts you must buy. As a result the added stress of trying to make the holidays magical can compound the overwhelm of trying to give your children a wholesome childhood. Many families are just scraping by, the holidays often bring the extra pressure to buy gifts and decorations. Which then causes parents to go in debt to try to make things magical. And that debt is something that most will carry through the coming year.

The holidays don’t just place stress of finances, there are many other areas that hit a stressful point. Like the waking up early part. Wrapping gifts with time that you already don’t have. Moving the elf, then moving the elf again, and again and again. Spending hours in the kitchen making a holiday feast, only for it to be eaten in five minutes. We as parents can often become so overwhelmed by the never ending lists. Which causes the holidays to lead us to cringe with exhaustion just thinking about all the added pressure. So what’s the remedy? What are 15 ways to find joy during the holidays as a parent?

15 Ways to Find Joy During the Holidays as a Busy Parent.

We’ve compiled this pretty incredible list of ways to bring joy to yourself during the holidays. And please don’t think that that’s selfish. It’s not selfish to take steps towards untouchable happiness, it’s actually the opposite. Because if you are finding joy, even in the tough moments, your entire family will benefit.

1. Let the Schedule Go.

Does the idea of falling out of schedule make you nervous? That might be because your parenting schedule is something that you have control over in a world that is anything but normal. However, you may find that during the holiday season, it will be so much more difficult to stay on your normal routine and schedules. Bedtimes might get pushed, morning routines may become messy. When this happens, don’t fight it. Just go with it. Your families routine isn’t a reflection of your parenting skills.

It’s really simple, the joy that you feel from trying to stay on track with your schedule and routine is often false joy, or limited joy. Instead, aim for the joy that comes with your children’s beautiful smiles, and with the laughter that fills the room when you all share a funny memory.

2. Spend Time With Your Family.

Number 2 of the 15 ways to find joy during the holidays comes down to undivided attention. Truly something that your children crave. Society is digital, we can sometimes spend hours chatting with someone who is thousands of miles away. Then when we look up from the phone we see the little eyes of someone that loves you so much, is right here in the room with you but feels miles away. Instead of being glued to your device, put it away. Spend time with your kids. Talk to them, tell them stories about the holidays when you were a kid.

The undivided attention that you can provide them with is worth so much more than a cool new lego set, or barbie doll. When you spend that special time with your children, you will feel so much more fulfilled in knowing that your bond is growing stronger.

3. Make Cards Together.

The last normal Christmas that we had was in 2019. That’s a bit of a scary thought. However, one small thing that can bring comfort is knowing that every person you meet is experiencing this also. So, why not bring some joy to others? Creating some fun holiday cards with your kids, and handing them out to neighbours and friends is an excellent way to share and bring holiday joy. Teaching our kids to be kind to others by doing something as simple as making and delivering a Christmas card, is a life lesson that they will forever keep.

When you do this, you can take joy in knowing that you not only brightened someone else’s day, you also helped your child learn the value of spreading kindness during a time of year that is often cold and dark for so many.

4. Gift a Stranger.

I promise this isn’t sketchy. It’s actually really amazing. Last Christmas I was feeling really blue. The pandemic, impending shut down, losing our dog, and a bunch of other things had left me in a state of blah. Trying to get in the Christmas Spirit was just not something I could do. Until I saw this incredible idea on Instagram. Writing notes of kindness to strangers. I quickly adopted the idea. And took six special cards, wrote special notes inside them and placed $20 in each card.

After we masked up, the kids and I went to the mall, and found six people that seemed like they could really use a ‘pick me up’. We gifted these little cards, with no explanation. Later that day, I saw on a local Facebook group, people writing posts about the random envelopes from the kids at the mall that changed their day and helped them see a light.

This simple gesture brought so much joy to my and my children’s hearts. There’s just something so amazing about gifting to someone. If you don’t have extra money to spare, then don’t place yourself in a stressful spot. Even just writing a kind note and gifting it to someone can be such a a game-changer.

5. Support a Charity.

Recent research has shown that supporting a cause can actually work to increase joy. Knowing that you are doing something bigger than you, can be really mood boosting. This year, I had my kids sit down with a gift catalogue. Not a normal gift catalogue, this gift catalogue had items needed most around the world, and also right here in our own country. My kids selected seeds for a family to plant in another country, a water filter for another family to drink. And to feed a student lunch for one year here in our country.

I watched as my kids faces lit up when they knew that what they were doing was going to help others. They don’t know who it will help, and we will likely never meet those who we are helping. However, the joy of knowing that someone, somewhere will have something they really need because of your gift. That’s joy inducing.

6. Create Meaningful Traditions.

Traditions are something that you and your kids can look forward to with excitement. Set up new, fun traditions. Like holiday baking on December 23rd or having a pyjama wearing, Christmas movie watching, marathon. You could also create your own home decorations together every year, using your imagination and creativity to come up with some awesome designs.

7. Have a Christmas Movie Marathon.

I know, you’re thinking ‘didn’t I just read this as part of the creating meaningful traditions?’ You did! You absolutely did! However, it was too good to leave out of the 15 ways to find joy during the holidays. As parents we can become so busy and overwhelmed. When we lounge around we often think that we are failing in some way because we should be busy doing something else.

Dedicate one day of the winter break to lounging in your pyjamas with your kids, watching Christmas movies. Snuggling, eating, and relaxing are three things that are sure to cause joy and make memories. Take a break from the business and prioritize rest.

8. Lower Your Expectations.

We often think that it’s our children that have the high expectations for the holidays. When more often than not, it’s us that have the unrealistic expectations of how the holidays should go. In our minds we cultivate this vision of you playing holiday songs, drinking hot chocolate, while a three coarse breakfast is cooking. As your children happily open their gifts and the house smells of cinnamon and happiness.

Reality is often so much more different. You’re likely sitting on the couch, looking over at your partner as you both try not to fall asleep while your kids rip through the gifts as quickly as possible. That giant holiday breakfast that you wanted to prepare has turned into a box of cereal and you already snapped when your kids accidentally kicked you in the nose when they were jumping on your bed trying to get you to get up.

So, lower your expectations. Will the holidays be magical? Maybe. But are you going to sacrifice your mental well-being in order to make it that way? No.

9. Keep Things Simple.

This point really goes along well with number eight. Aim to keep things simple. The holidays don’t need to be extravagant and mind-blowing. In fact, keeping the holidays simple will bring more joy to you and your whole family. Because you’re taking that painful pressure off of yourself.

10. Let Go of Resentment.

The holidays sometimes can bring up some feelings that aren’t exactly joy inducing. Thinking about how your mother-in-law didn’t even call the kids to say hello. Or about how your partner didn’t bother to get you a gift again. These feelings of resentment will poison your state of mind and cause the joy to seep right out of you. Give yourself the gift of letting it go. People aren’t perfect, you’ll always be able to find some way that things didn’t go right because of someone else. Please do yourself a favour, and let it go.

“The heart is like a garden: it can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?”

Jack Kornfield

11. Let Go of the Bad Moments.

Sometimes it can seem like for every good moment you have, there are ten bad moments that cloud it. Our minds seem to be susceptible to negativity. Being drawn to the bad will only make the good that much more invisible. Will you have bad moments during the holidays? Probably! But not all moments will be bad, truly there will be some wonderful moments that you can remember and focus on with joy.

12. Keep Up With Healthy Habits.

Please don’t be confused by this. I know that number one of the 15 ways to find joy during the holidays was “Let go of the schedule”. However, healthy habits are a different category completely. During the holiday season there are so many treats, and so many opportunities to give up on healthy habits that we have set for ourselves. Let me encourage you not to do that. Make healthy eating, adequate amount of sleep and exercise a part of your holiday traditions. It can be so tempting to devour the box of chocolates that your friend gave you. Or skip exercise entirely.

Healthy Habits are gifts that your body needs to feel great during the holidays. Taking away those healthy habits will only cause you to feel like you aren’t grounded. So stick with it!

Schoolio has a really neat Healthy Choices Challenge that you and your child can participate in. You can check it out and download the neat freebie here:

Schoolio Holiday Healthy Choices Challenge

13. Connect With a Loved One.

The pandemic has made connection and community something that is few and far between. I never thought I would be unable to see my family, until the pandemic happened. While it may still not be safe to connect with your entire family, you still have the gift of technology. Set up a time for your family to video chat a loved one. Share laughs, stories and moments. It won’t be the same as the in-person visits you’d love to have. But it will still be worth it for the whole family.

14. Let Yourself Feel the Feelings.

Maybe you are just really struggling with finding joy. But the fact that you are struggling is making you feel more anxious because you feel like you shouldn’t be feeling that way. Did you follow that? It was a little confusing. Listen, if you’re struggling to find joy and you’re ashamed of yourself because you think that you should be exuding joy right now, just know that your feelings are valid. Please don’t try to push those feelings way deep down. Instead, embrace them for what they are. Life is different now, the holidays can be challenging. It’s ok to not be feeling ok. Talk to a friend, family member, or licensed therapist about your feelings.

15. Be Kind to Yourself.

We place such a huge emphasis on being kind to others, but we often forget to include ourselves in the equation. Please remember to show yourself kindness. Please don’t condemn yourself just because you forgot to buy the eggnog. You’re doing a great job, you’re an amazing parent that just wants the best for your family. So, please be gentle with yourself.

Bonus: Are your kids bored? Keep them Entertained for Free!

Is your kids boredom driving you slightly nuts? It can be so much more difficult to find joy when your kids are whining to you about their boredom. Try some of the free special interest units by Schoolio!

Currently on The Schoolio Marketplace you will find these products for free:

Check out these amazing free units to help your kids learn and have fun this holiday season. Additionally, we have some pretty amazing, discounted units available for your child to enjoy this season.

The Schoolio Marketplace Discounted Special Interest Units:

Additional Resources for the 15 Ways to Find Joy During the Holidays:


15 Ways to Find Joy During the Holidays


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