I’ve been at my parents place in Boston since Sunday and we’ve had such an amazing week. My family is the best. It’s easy to be at home, there are no unspoken expectations, Jonathan and I get plenty of space, and it’s always a relaxing time. This is mostly because I got lucky, and partially because I follow certain strategies that I’m going to walk you through below.
Now, I know that for some people spending time with our families over the holidays can be the perfect example of “too much of a good thing”.
Obviously, most of us look forward to spending time with our families, but when we’ve hit our limit, things can go sour fast. And sometimes having a few tough days after what was overall a great visit, can ruin our vacation, making us resentful, anxious and unrested.
I want to share the six strategies for getting the most out of your family time over the holidays, especially if they usually push your buttons.
Six strategies for getting the most out of your family time over the holidays.
- Don’t be afraid to do what’s best for you. What’s best for you is best for everyone. If you can create boundaries and set expectations that work for you, it’s going to have an overall positive effect on your vacation. Think of it this way, if your Mom wants you to be home for a whole week, but you know that you’ll be bickering the last few days, it could ruin the whole vacation. But, if you tell her you can only stay for three days, you may initially hurt her feelings, but she’ll appreciate the quality of your visit over the quantity.
- Adjust the length of your stay. See #1.
- Get some alone time. If the place you’re staying with your family is particularly small and having no privacy makes you miserable, whether it’s your apartment or your childhood home, consider getting a hotel room, or asking your parents to stay in a hotel if they’re visiting you. I know that may seem drastic, but again, this is your vacation, and if you leave feeling more tired than when you arrived, you’re going to be a resentful bitch, and no fun to be around. If you can’t afford a separate place to stay, go for a walk alone every day, or plan dinner out with a friend.
- Set expectations. My family is a master at this. My parents always send us the plans for our time together weeks in advance and ask us what we’d like to participate in, and ask us if we’ve made plans outside the family. This alleviates pressure, and when we arrive at home there are no surprises. If this isn’t something your family does, it would be a great idea to have an honest conversation with your parents about their plans, what’s most important to them and what’s flexible.
- Ditch the “adults”. If you spend the holidays with your siblings and/or cousins, plan a night without the older generation. Go out or play board games. Having the opportunity to connect with those people in your life is so rare and is a total blast. Not only will this shake up your schedule, but it will just maybe give you the chance to vent.
- Plan an event for everyone. When we spend time with our parents, it’s easy for us to just fall in line, but then we complain that they’re “making us do things.” Ditch the passive aggression and offer to plan dinner one night or an activity during the day. Not only will it be great for everyone to experience what your life is like on a daily basis, you’ll be able to eat what you want, or do something you enjoy.
I know a lot of this feels extreme, and I know you don’t love to rock the boat. But just think about how much happier YOU and everyone else is going to be after spending the holidays together. The goal here is to leave your time with you family feeling fulfilled and loved with a slight craving for more.
Why this is important: When we are in a space of feeling depleted, suffocated or annoyed while we’re home, we are GUARANTEED to go nuts on the Christmas cookies. All of the sweets around become our only escape from the chaos. It won’t be until you get a real emotional, and physical escape will you be able to stop at 2 cookies or a glass of eggnog. Willpower is not coming home with you.
In the comments below, I want to know:
- What are you most nervous about when it comes to spending the holidays with your family?
- Which of these strategies are you going to use to make the situation better?
I can’t wait to hear from you,