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A Working Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Holiday Break

Patrick Ball on December 22, 2015 03:52 PM

Follow's tips to surviving holiday break

It’s just about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 22. The second hand inches forward, the minutes creep by. Your office is half-empty, your co-workers easily distracted. It’s all you can do to shuffle through the mish-mash of projects on your plate. Because your mind is elsewhere.

It’s on your kids. Your half-finished shopping lists. The family you’ll be hosting or the houses you’ll be hopping. It’s on school vacation weeks, and the plans you still haven’t made.

For many busy, working families, the holiday break can feel less like a vacation and more like a blizzard of activities, excitement, parties, errands and stress. With that in mind, here are a few tips and tricks to help your family survive the holiday break.

  1.  Outsource Stressors When You Can
    According to a member poll, 64 percent of employed members say their stress level increases during the holidays. And 68 percent admit they’re feeling overwhelmed during the holiday season.  So, how can you manage the stress? By outsourcing some of the stressors! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    10 Ways Your Nanny Can Help during the Holidays
    5 Ways Your Housekeeper Can Help With the Holidays
    7 Biggest Holiday Stressors -- and How to Fix Them
    Outsource Your Holiday Stress
    15 Times When Working Parents Need Backup Care

  2. Try to Unplug 
    A major complaint among respondents of the member survey was that work interferes with family time during the holidays. 62 percent of respondents said they’re unhappy with the amount of time off their company provides during the holiday. But, even more than that, many admit to doing work while they’re out of the office. Here’s a by-the-numbers look: 

    - 41 percent check email or voicemail daily
    - 40 percent check email or voicemail several times daily
    - 20 percent say they work so much during the holidays it’s like a regular work week

    Try to unplug from work while you’re off during the holidays. It’ll help you focus on enjoying time with your family.

  3. Keep Tabs on Tips, Gifts and Everything Else You're Spending Money On 
    Most wonderful time of the year? More like most expensive … for many families anyway. From gift-giving to holiday tipping, many of us are practically hemorrhaging during the holidays. Not to say we mind, necessarily. ‘Tis better to give than receive, after all.  Here are a few resources to help sort out some of your holiday spending. 

    -'s Guide to Holiday Tipping 
    A Holiday Bonus Guide for Your Caregivers
    Gift Ideas for All Your Caregivers
    Do You Give Kids Presents?
    Do You Give Your Nanny a Holiday Bonus?
    8 Creative Holiday Gifts Kids Can Make for Their Nanny
    6 Ways to Get thru the Holidays without a Spoiled Child

  4. Don’t Be Afraid to Scale Back 
    If you think about it, a lot our holiday season stress is self-inflicted. It’s pressure we put on ourselves to provide an A+ holiday for our families. Katie Bugbee,’s Senior Managing Editor and Parenting Expert, had this realization last year.  Give her “9 Ways to Have a B+ Holiday” a read and see where you can scale back.

    RELATED: How to Help Employees Deal with Holiday Stress and Distractions

  5. Plan to Be Crafty
    School vacation weeks mean you’re going to have to find ways to keep the kids busy. Sure, there will be presents and new toys to play with, and probably activities with friends. But you’ll want to plan ahead for those in-case-of-emergency circumstances, like when boredom or bad weather strike. Here are a few ideas: 

    8 Tips for Surviving Holiday Planning -- With Kids
    101 Holiday Activities for Kids
    101 Winter Activities for Kids
    33 of our Favorite Quick and Easy Holiday Crafts for Kids

  6. Treat Yo’ Self 
    You’ve stayed home with the kids for quite New Year’s celebrations in the past, but this year you want to do something a little more exciting. Follow’s tips for How to Hire a Sitter for New Year’s Eve and treat yourselves to a well-deserved night out. 

  7. Just Enjoy the Magic 
    Yes it’s crazy. Yes you’re busy. And yes you’re stressed out. Katie Bugbee, our managing editor and parenting expert here at, planned ahead and so she can take things slowly and enjoy the holidays this year. … and it’s working. “Slowing down and putting less pressure on myself to make things perfect has helped me stop and enjoy the small, sweet moments that usually fly by,” she writes. If you need a little magic, check out Katie’s list of 32 Totally Free Magical Holiday Moments to Stop and Enjoy Right Now
Happy Holidays from all of us at