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Holiday Stress-Busters: Advice for Parents

    5. Flexibility Can Buy You Time
    How can you get anything done when the little ones are home on vacation and you only have a few days off? University of Indiana education professor Janette Shaw suggests parents take turns looking after kids with neighbors or colleagues. And Vernon recommends hiring a babysitter to take the kids to the movies or to play with them for a few hours while you're working around the house.

    6. Set Limits for College Kids
    A college student home for the holidays can wreak havoc on family routines. For months now, your teen has been on his own and doing things very differently. The disruption could be the college girlfriend who plans to sleep in your son's bed. Or perhaps your daughter is now accustomed to sleeping with the radio blaring. Whatever the case, you'll need to set some ground rules in advance. "Everyone's going to have to compromise during the visit," says Vernon. "So it's important that parents and kids be respectful of each other."

Above all else, Vernon says parents should take it easy on themselves over the holidays: "This time of year, people are so concerned by what others might say about them if they don't do everything perfectly." Ask yourself what imperfection really means. Surprise! You're human — like everyone else.

Five Signs You Need to Bust Some Holiday Stress

  • You're irritable.
  • You're losing sleep.
  • You're losing or gaining weight (this can be hard to tell around the holidays — it could just be all the good food).
  • You feel tense — with muscle aches or headaches.
  • You feel overwhelmed.

For more on managing everyday stress, pick up a copy of The Working Parents Help Book by Tom Price and Susan Crites Price (Peterson's).

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