Yes, Good Parents Can (And Do!) Dread the Holidays 

Have you ever felt guilty about dreading the holidays? Same. Dr. Becky is breaking down the dread and sharing her tips for a stress-free season.

It’s okay to love the holidays, and it’s okay to dread the holidays. This mantra will remind you that you’re a good parent no matter how you feel. 

The holiday season, with its twinkling lights, gingerbread houses, and festive carols, often pushes this narrative of universal joy and magic. We can’t seem to turn on the TV without hearing Andy Williams crooning, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” But let’s keep it real – not everyone feels this magic. And for parents who find this period to be the least wonderful time of the year, there’s an added layer of guilt. 

Use this mantra and remind yourself of this important truth:

“How I feel about the holiday season doesn’t mean anything about the kind of parent or person I am.”

With the daunting checklist of shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, gatherings, and baking, along with the everyday demands of parenting, of course, parents are exhausted this time of year! 

If “holiday cheer” doesn’t come naturally to you or is overridden by stress, know this: Your thoughts and feelings—especially those that resist the mainstream holiday sentiment—deserve acknowledgment and acceptance. When we find ourselves struggling during the holidays, we often create narratives in our minds. We tell ourselves, “I’m a terrible parent, ” “I’m so selfish, ” or “I’m no fun.”

The next time these feelings show up, instead of trying to deny or ignore them, take a moment to acknowledge them and say, “That’s okay, thought or feeling; you can live in me. I’m a good parent who doesn’t love the holidays, and that’s okay.”

Four Steps to Prepare Yourself for the Holiday Season 

Parenting during the holiday season brings its own unique set of challenges and joys. At the intersection of organizing festivities and maintaining sanity, we’ve created four game-changing strategies for all parents out there that can offer a method to all the merry madness: 

1. Make a To-Do List (But No Need to Check It Twice!) 

Navigating the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be easier with a to-do list. Of course, when it comes to to-do lists, two things are true: They can help us stay organized, and they can feel overwhelming. It’s important to remind yourself that no one “gets it all done” and to focus on progress, not perfection. 

2. Gift Yourself Some “Me” Time 

Think about what you truly desire from the holidays. This could be anything — a quiet morning to drink hot chocolate, watching your favorite holiday movie with the family, or saying ‘no’ to certain family gatherings. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, that makes sense. Say this mantra to yourself: “My needs matter. I deserve to do things for myself.

3. Create Personal Reminders of Comfort and Joy 

As the holidays approach, there will likely be days that trigger feelings of stress or unease. It can be really helpful to set a calming reminder on your phone for those days. Here are a few self-reminder statements we love (but feel free to create your own!):

“Hang in there. You will get through this!”

“This time of year is hard, and you can do hard things.”

“Pause and take three deep breaths. Remind yourself of your capability.”

4. Enlist Some Holiday Helpers for Support 

The holiday season can have moments that feel intense, but enduring them alone intensifies the feeling even further. It’s okay to lean on the people who care for you. Set up a signal with your partner or create a simple text code with a trusted friend. Proactively taking care of yourself means prepping your trusted allies for these moments — sometimes, a simple text with a few words of encouragement or having your partner take over some tasks when you’re running on empty can truly feel like a holiday miracle.  

Look, we’re certainly not trying to paint a negative picture of the holidays or tell you that you shouldn’t love it or find it magical. It’s just comforting to know that if this holiday season you don’t deck your halls or feel merry or bright, or if your biggest wish for the holidays is for it just to be over, that’s okay, too. Just remind yourself, “I’m a good parent who doesn’t really like the holidays,” and know you’re not alone. 


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