Make to-do and not-to-do lists

Parent Connection

December 10, 2009 

As the holiday season is in full swing, I would venture to say that most folks are as busy as a retail cashier the morning after Thanksgiving.

So little time. So much to do.

I'm certain that some of you have not only finished all of your holiday shopping but have every single gift neatly wrapped, Christmas cards mailed and the tree immaculately trimmed.

But others have not even started.

Santa may very well have you guys noted on his naughty list. He hears those ugly names you mutter under your breath about the people who are ready as a reindeer for Christmas morn.

Regardless of your stage of readiness, it's a good idea to have a to-do list, especially parents. Wise moms and dads keep such a list so nothing important gets forgotten during the holiday madness.

Allow me to share another suggestion. This year, along with your to-do list, make out a not-to-do list. Here are several ideas to get you started:

Do not overbook. If you don't put this on top of your list, it's bound to happen. Children's activities, extended-family members who all want you at their houses this year, parties, programs -- the list could go on and on. So many great things happen in December, but don't let your children's memories of Christmas be of baby-sitters, rushing from one event to the next and the lack of quality time with family. There's nothing wrong with getting out for holiday happenings, but don't overdo it.

Do not overspend. I know -- I've preached on this before. But get this: Even in a good economy, buying and buying for your kids and others doesn't lead to contentment. If there is anything folks are learning in a troubled economy, it's that more is not better. Kids can learn to be satisfied without so much new stuff.

Make out a simple holiday budget and stick to it, knowing that less buying for little Bradley and Susie can be replaced with simple doing with them. Quality time as family doesn't have to cost money.

Do not overreact. Even the Grinch didn't panic when he got stuck in the chimney. He simply worked it out. You can do the same in the rush and scurry of the holiday season. Take a breath, have a nice cup of tea on occasion, and don't let your kids, who are bouncing off the walls with excitement, keep you stirred up emotionally. You don't want to find yourself constantly flying off the handle.

This time of year takes a little extra patience. Set your minds to control your emotions. The holiday season is often portrayed as a time of bliss and great family fun. But if you aren't realistic, you may find yourself frustrated, annoyed and disappointed.

Bryan Greeson, a nationally certified school psychologist in North Carolina, can be reached at

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