Putting the fun back into family holiday gatherings

Putting the fun back into family holiday gatherings
Family gatherings tend to multiply over the holidays, which can be hard for some parents. If you can relate, here are some ideas on how to make them more enjoyable.

Family gatherings tend to multiply over the holidays, which can be hard for some parents. If you can relate, here are some ideas on how to make them more enjoyable.

The holiday season is a time of celebration, but with it comes a slew of extra chores, such as decorating, buying gifts, and planning meals and outings with family and friends. “There are more chores to do, but not more hours in the day to get them all done,” says family coach Laithicia Adam. “That’s why it’s important to set realistic expectations for you and your child. It’ll reduce the pressure, fatigue, and stress caused by a hectic holiday schedule.”

Snowballing stress

The stress of family get-togethers is no help. Some parents dread having to deal with family tensions or the comments certain relatives make about how their child behaves. “If family get-togethers stress you out, try to pinpoint exactly what bothers you,” suggests psychologist Nicolas Chevrier. “You can then start thinking about tactful ways to handle the situation.”

“For instance,” Chevrier explains, “if you’re dreading a dinner because of one aunt in particular, you can simply limit your interactions with her.” For bigger issues, however, such as if your brother is always commenting on how you’re raising your child, it might be better to have a private discussion before the family gathering. In this example, you could tell your brother how his comments on your parenting make you feel.

At the same time, you may have to let some of the annoying things your relatives do slide. Just remember that letting things slide means accepting that not everything will go the way you want it to. It doesn’t mean accepting what isn’t acceptable—inappropriate comments or hostility, for instance. In these types of situations, it’s better to calmly assert your boundaries with statements such as, “I feel like you’re getting worked up. I’d prefer if we could talk more calmly.”

Try not to focus exclusively on the individuals who bother you. Instead, turn your attention to people you get along with and those your child enjoys being around. And don’t forget that there’s more to the holidays than family gatherings. You will also have quieter days. As a matter of fact, alternating big family get-togethers with rest days will help recharge your batteries.

 

Photo: GettyImages/ManonAllard

 

Naitre et grandir.com

Source: Naître et grandir magazine, December 2018
Research and copywriting: Amélie Cournoyer
Scientific review: Annie Goulet, psychologist