The holiday season can be a struggle for even the most well-adjusted family. Routines and rules go the way of the dodo as everything from naps to meals gets completely thrown off. Sugar is everywhere, and trying to keep your children — and yourself — to approach it in a measured and rational fashion is easier said than done.
Gift giving often creates a strain for budgets, and getting along peacefully with family you only see once or twice a year can be a struggle of epic proportions. If you’re feeling spent and sore from the holidays, here are six tips to help you and your family recover.
1. Revisit Your Budget
Whether you spent more or less than the average American this past holiday season, the end of the year is always an ideal time to revisit your family’s budget. Tally up the losses accrued, the bonuses garnered, any upcoming salary changes, and the like. Then, set some intentions regarding saving, investing, and spending for the upcoming year.
Once you know how you fared in 2015 and how you’d like to fare in 2016, you and your family can work toward your common goals together, from taking advantage of online savings sites throughout the year to setting aside money for next Christmas starting in January.
2. Get (Everybody) Back on a Schedule
Holidays can feel like the Wild West when it comes to keeping a schedule, and while there are elements of that lack of structure that can be fun, when you finally feel ready to have the holidays behind you, it’s important to implement structured time back into your family’s days.
Get bedtime routines back on track. If you had set mealtimes before the holidays hit, fire them up again. In every way you can, get your household back on a schedule, and let the routine help wash away your harried feelings of stress.
3. Get (Everybody) Some Exercise
Exercise is one of the best stress relievers on the planet, and very few Americans get enough of it during their regular lives, let alone during the holidays. Regardless of whether you and your family are feeling sluggish, stir crazy, worn out, or anxious, exercise will help put you right.
Take a walk to your neighborhood coffee shop. Play flag football in the snow. Go for a family bike ride. In whatever way you can all enjoy it, move your bodies, clear your lungs, and get your heart rates pumping.
4. Hire a Cleaning Service
Whether you always take advantage of a cleaning service or you never do, the post-holiday season is the perfect time to get some outside help regarding your home. A houseful of guests, extra cooking, and excessive present wrapping and unwrapping can’t help but create an environment that needs sprucing up.
Instead of trying to tackle it all yourself, or forcing your family to join you, hire a cleaning service, and go watch a matinee movie while your house is transformed. Your home will feel as though it has returned to normal, and you won’t feel extra tired or put out, because you won’t have been the one who made the effort.
Even if all you do is jot down a paragraph at the start and end of each day, journaling about how you’re feeling and what’s going on around you is a great way to aid in holiday recovery. Whether you’re worried about something you said to your mother or you’re afraid your children are more into their presents than they are other people, putting your concerns, joys, hopes, and fears onto paper can help put everything into much-needed perspective.
You can even make a family event out of it: Before dinner each night for a week after the holidays wrap up, set aside ten minutes for everyone to write down their thoughts and emotions. Give everyone a chance to share what they wrote, but don’t pressure anyone to do so. At the end of the week, spend some time talking about the experience of writing and sharing as a family.
6. Stay Home
This last tip almost always comes naturally to families who are trying to recover from the holiday whirlwind, but it’s best to be intentional about it anyway. Cook meals at home. Play low-key games together. Regain your footing in your home as a family unit so that when everybody is back at work and school, you’ve reestablished your shared life together.
Recovering from the holidays doesn’t have to take a month. From getting a little exercise to getting a little help with cleaning, these six tips will put you all on the fast track to feeling good and normal in no time.