Those unwelcome holiday visitors: stress, exhaustion, disorganization.

With the shopping, gift-wrapping, decorating, extra cooking, family obligations and special holiday events it’s hard to keep a healthy balance. Then when our children get overstimulated it adds to the holiday stress. With plenty of excitement, access to sugary foods, and regular schedules going out the window, less than desirable behaviors may surface. Add in homeschooling for one or more kids and you wonder where the “joyful season” went!

Why not give yourself some early Christmas gifts this season:

1) Plan to simplify and limit gift-giving

2) Take care of yourself; Get enough sleep!

3) Curb excessive eating or drinking

4) Say “no” to invitations when you feel overextended and try to maintain regular schedules

5) Use behavior and chore charts. They can lessen your burden and help kids stay on track. Want to know how?

Incentive Charts Ease Holiday Stress

There is no escaping the fact that you will have extra holiday obligations on top of regular family chores. Well, don’t forget to put the kids to work! Have a conversation with your children and explain why you need extra help at this special time of the year.

Most of us have memories of daily chore lists and you may already be using them, but specially designed chore charts can put a fresh face on the effort. has suggestions for age-appropriate chores to consider. Use colorful holiday stickers to mark progress or let your child decorate the sheets. Just pick one or more free chore charts, download, print and go!

You can adapt tasks to focus on the holidays, like helping with decorating, making name tags for packages, or gift-wrapping (be sure to set any perfectionism aside!). These holiday tasks will be fun to mix in with the regular chores.

Be sure most of the chore items are easily completed so children get a sense of satisfaction without too much effort. Children enjoy a pat on the back for tasks that they are routinely doing as much as you do! Then add in one or two special extra chores that will make your life easier.

Rewards or incentives should not be expensive, in fact, they don’t have to cost anything. The goal is to make it motivating to the youngster.

Charts can make a difference for behavior, too

Sometimes an incentive chart is just what is needed to keep things running smoothly at home. You can easily adapt one to fit your needs. Whether you want to focus on sticking to routines, eating healthy foods, listening to advice, taking vitamins, or being gentle with the new baby, you can finetune the chart to fit your needs.

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Texas State Historical Association