Keeping It Real for the Holidays
Healthy family relationships are a challenge at the best of times but bring in the holidays and things will likely go off track; and that’s OK. Between Santa, the extended family and friends, shopping, parties, late nights, an abundance of food and wine, it’s no wonder that you and your family may be a little or a lot stressed out! But ‘tis the season to be charitable, forgiving and peaceful. So try to be more tolerant, patient – and most of all, let some of the “stuff” go.
Don’t try to do it all. Whether your family has young children or adolescents, consider reinventing your family traditions. Gather together and talk about what each of you want and don’t want. Put all the “wants” into perspective and agree on what is realistic. It’s quality not quantity and if you can, ask for help. If you’re hosting, why not try a potluck rather than doing it all on your own. There’s no shame in buying ready-made or simplifying the menu. Get the kids involved with decorating or setting the table. Give the children an age-appropriate job and don’t micro-manage them. The joy of the experience is what you will remember not whether it was done to your specifications. The key to the holidays and family traditions is being together and appreciating one another.
Instead of a lengthy holiday to do list, check out these stress-busting ideas that can help your family beat anxiety and have a much merrier holiday:
- Redefine and be flexible about your expectations and your family traditions. Rather than attending all the family gatherings, consider only going every second year or cutback on the number of outings.
- Dispel the myths about the Hallmark moments of the holiday season. Let your children know that it’s OK to have mixed feelings or disappointments. Take a step back and recognize that the holidays are about you and your family and not an idealistic image from a movie. And don’t forget to let them know how much you cherish them.
- Maintain your routine as much as possible. Remember that the disruption can be especially stressful for children. Encourage everyone to eat healthy, try not to consume in excess and stick to regular sleep schedules, as much as it is possible during this time of year.
- Resist the temptation to over program. Plan your special holiday activities as well as your down time.
- Don’t ignore the stress signs that children, partner or you might be experiencing. Take the time to help reassure their fears or uncertainty or just take a time out from the “stuff” and give each other a hug. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make it better.
AMCAL Family Services aims to be a leader in strengthening families and the community through innovation and responsiveness. Programs and services offered include Family Counselling and School-based structured and preventative programs. If you have any questions or need help, please call for more information 514.694.3161 or visit us at www.Amcal.ca