10 Tips for De-Stressing Your Thanksgiving

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Focus on the meaning of the holiday

The whole gist of this holiday is to connect with family and to count your blessings. It is not to cook the perfect turkey or to have the perfectly behaved child (although that would be nice sometimes). Take the time to laugh and have fun with your family this Thanksgiving. Be grateful for the happy moments.


Get outside

There is nothing which will drive a hyperactive child or adult more stir crazy than sitting in the house all day. Take a walk, play some touch football, go bike riding if the weather permits, play in the snow if it is snowing outside, but do get outside even if you have to bundle up.


Don't be afraid to change tradition

Who says you have to have turkey for Thanksgiving? You can make anything you want including reservations at the local Chinese restaurant. They did it on "A Christmas Story" and look how happy they were.


Make merry with music

Play Rock Band or Guitar Hero with your kids. You will have a blast guaranteed. For about a hundred bucks you can buy a karaoke machine so you and your family can sing along to your favorite show tunes or Christmas songs. Play the piano, keyboard, or guitar and gather your family for a sing-a-long. Who cares if you can't sing, just have fun with it.


Prepare a Christmas list

Get out all the newspaper fliers, toy and gift catalogs and have you child clip out the items he or she is dreaming about getting for Christmas. They can then glue the pictures onto paper creating a visual list. Might make things easier for you to see what they want instead of having to guess what a Van Rook with Battle Sword is.


If traveling, pack an activity bag

Bring things like small toys, crayons, markers, and paper. You can pack an electronic game or even a small DVD player. The goal is to give them some independent activities to keep them busy during the less lively parts of your visit.


Let your child be part of the meal preparation

Children are much more likely to eat something that they had a hand in creating. So let them put the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes or twist the crescent rolls into shape for baking. Let your child help as they are able.


Play some games!

I find that my child likes more physically active games. There is twister and limbo as well as indoor bowling with plastic pins and ball. There are foam dart board games as well as magnetic fishing. Some other hands on games especially for younger kids are Hungy Hungry Hippos, Ants in the Pants, Don't Break the Ice and Mouse Trap.


Reward good behavior

Go to the dollar store ahead of time and buy small toys and trinkets to give to your child at certain intervals for good behavior. Some good choices might be a slinky, one of those parachute guys they can launch from an upstairs landing, bubbles, and coloring books.


Have a cool-down zone

Your child will need a calm safe place to wind down from all the excitement. My son responds well to also giving him a stress ball to squeeze when he gets worked up. Whatever strategies work to calm your child, keep them in mind especially for the holidays.