5 tips to help military families find more joy and peace–and less stress–during the holidays.
Posted in , Nov 20, 2016
The holidays can be stressful for us all. But for military families, there’s a whole new level of challenges to the hectic though joyful season. If our loved one is deployed, it means celebrating a holiday without them. If they’re at home, we still have to battle the schedules and last-minute requirements of military jobs.
Here are some ways I’ve found that military families can keep their sanity throughout the season.
I took some time and winnowed through our holiday must-do and must-have list. I weeded out the things that weren’t essential and found that it reduced the stress for everyone. For example, I chose to only put up a small Christmas tree, instead of our big one. I also scaled back on the way I handled presents–opting for simple wrappings and gift cards.
2) Rethink social commitments.
Again, I took a hard look at the events we usually hosted and attended. I accepted the fact that I couldn’t do it all and made some difficult decisions that turned out to be a gift to our entire family in terms of time we could spend relaxing together.
It’s easy to get caught up in the commercial aspect of the holidays. Instead I made the decision to keep the reason for the season upmost in my mind and in that of my family. By remembering God’s blessings, we could experience the joy that is sometimes hard to find. We took time to read the Christmas story together out of the Bible, refocused our family devotion time and shared prayer requests with one another before supper each night.
I’m not by nature a planner. I like life to be spontaneous and exciting. But managing the holidays on the spur of the moment with a loved one in the military is an invitation to disaster. Instead, I learned to make lists, consider the possibilities and leave my schedule open enough for the spontaneity that I loved.
5) Be flexible.
I also learned that no matter how much time I spent planning, things could still go awry. But if I was calm and kept a positive attitude when things changed, it set the tone for the entire family. If someone’s work schedule changed, I worked around it instead of being irritated at the person. An extra snow day became a time for family fun instead of stress.
Having someone we love in the military doesn’t have to dampen our holiday joy. With a little bit of ingenuity, flexibility and planning, we can all have a holiday season full of peace and love.