PEP Blog


Curbing Holiday Stress With Your Family

By PEP Staff Writer

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season well underway, it’s not unusual for parents and kids alike to feel stressed. Parents are tired of the prepping and schlepping, kids may be ready for a break from the routine of homework and school, and everyone is keeping a busier-than usual social schedule.

Despite what you see on your Facebook or Instagram feed, all families feel stress. Remember, social media posts are the highlight reel; they rarely reveal the meltdowns that take place behind the scenes! Here at PEP, we don’t deny feelings, we actually encourage families to identify and embrace them. Because this time of year is more stressful than usual, it’s important to remember that the only behavior we can control is our own.  Here are a few ideas to help you get through the holiday season:

  • Triage the basic needs. When confronted with stressful situations, consider the acronym HALT – take stock of whether you, your partner, or child are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired – and respond accordingly.
  • Say “no” more often. Whether it’s another holiday party or the pressure to overspend on the “perfect” holiday gift, time and money are precious commodities. Overindulging in any of these areas is likely to contribute to stress. 
  • Plan together so that everyone’s expectations are met. Sit with the family calendar and identify the things that must happen. Listen to what’s important – for one child, it might be the holiday tradition of baking cookies; for another, it might be the ritual of a favorite holiday movie. For me, it’s help in the kitchen — there’s nothing that I love more than having my kids (and their girlfriends!) around the kitchen counter, helping contribute to a family meal.

How PEP Can Help – Give the Gift That Keeps on Giving!

  1. Help your family feel connected and encouraged by cultivating the appreciation habit. Appreciations are one of the cornerstones of PEP’s approach to parenting and communication and something that can permeate all relationships —  family, friends, and colleagues. Check out our recent Washington Parent article on the topic by PEP Parent Educator and Marriage and Family Therapist, Maureen McElroy.
  2. Set the intention now to join us in January for a class. With opportunities to connect with other like-minded parents, both in-person and online, learning from PEP has never been easier! To view the January schedule of classes, click here.
  3. If your family has benefited from PEP, pay it forward and help other families continue to grow and thrive, with a year-end donation!


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Parent Encouragement Program
10100 Connecticut Ave.
Kensington, MD 20895

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