It’s a fun time of year, and a busy one. if you’re like the average person, you probably have get-togethers scheduled over the next few weeks including a whole host of family members.
“It’s a high pressure time,” says marriage and family therapist Carin Goldstein. Here’s how to sit back, relax and enjoy the time you have with your family members — without the stress.
How to Enjoy Time with Your Kids
Your kids, whether they’re teens or elementary-aged, have likely just left the world of structure. You want them to feel like they’re getting a break from that “school stuff” during the holidays. Goldstein still suggests you implement a plan to keep them from feeling out of sorts.
Keeping your kids informed will do wonders for everyone’s sanity. “I refer to this as ‘leisurely structure,’” she says. “It’s basically just laying out a plan for them each day, so they know in their mind, ‘OK, today there’s going to be a playdate,’ or ‘Today we’re going to the mall.’” If they know what to expect, they’ll naturally temper their excitement and you won’t feel like they’re bouncing off the walls with boundless energy.
How to Enjoy Time with Your Spouse
It’s a romantic season! Yet it’s so easy to forget about the guy or girl you’re married to when there are so many other activities and tasks to check off your list. “With the mishmosh of entanglement during the holidays, it’s good and smart to take some alone time with your husband,” Goldstein says.
Call a babysitter if necessary and pencil in a couple date nights to reconnect.
How to Enjoy Time with Your In-laws
When spending the holidays with your in-laws, you can make the most of family time by keeping your expectations realistic. Use this season of giving to keep tensions low. Even if you and your in-laws are thick as thieves, be sure to choose a gift that you’ve put thought into and that you know they’ll love, Goldstein says. It would even be a good idea to get out of the house by shopping, visiting a new restaurant or going to the theater.
How to Enjoy Time With Your Parents and Siblings
Occasionally, seeing your family can reopen old wounds — from rivalries with your siblings to mom’s critiques about cooking or parenting. “I see a lot of people regress when they go back to their childhood home,” Goldstein says. “The holidays are a huge time for that.”
But don’t feel bad. It’s natural. “Humor is the biggest thing. If you can anticipate the triggers, address them with positivity and laugh about them right away. You’ll be in a much more prepared place.” she says.
So turn the negative feelings into nostalgia, and just try laughing about summer camp with your parents and your brother. It’s probably much funnier now, as an adult, if you allow it to be.