One in five parents too stressed at Christmas to enjoy it

Long to-do lists and social gatherings among biggest stress-inducers

Olivia Petter
Monday 20 December 2021 16:25

One in five parents claim to be too stressed during Christmas to enjoy the celebrations at all, a new study has found.

According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health in the US, which includes data on more than 2,000 adults, a quarter of parents have confessed to setting “overly idealistic” expectations at Christmas.

Meanwhile, a third said that their stress comes from Christmas shopping and various festive tasks in addition to keeping family members healthy and household finances.

Other triggers cited were family gatherings (23 per cent), making special Christmas meals (22 per cent), and criticism from family members about holiday plans (14 per cent).

Research scientist and Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark said: “People are surrounded by images depicting the holidays as a time of peace, love and joy.

“Many parents want to give their children those perfect magical memories to treasure for years to come.

“But all of the behind the scenes work to make that vision come true could have the opposite effect for some families.

“Excessive parental stress can add tension and diminish the joy children associate with the season.”

She continued by offering some advice for those feeling stressed by Christmas this year.

“One strategy is to talk as a family about holiday plans and priorities,” she said.

“Parents may have misconceptions about what their child’s favourite holiday memories and traditions are - they could actually be much simpler than you think.

“Once you know what’s important to keep, you can discuss reducing effort for some holiday preparations. It’s ok for traditions to evolve over time, and for families to redefine what the ‘perfect’ holiday looks like to them.”

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