Surviving the Winter Holidays You’ve barely regained consciousness from your turkey coma, and winter holidays are already upon us. We hope for a holiday filled with family, drink, and merry-making; however, all too often we instead find ourselves succumbing to the pressures of meal prep, travelling, making niceties with difficult family members, gift-giving, and ensuring that the children do not hurt one another. Sadly, for many families, what should be the “happiest time of year” winds up being the most “get-through-it” time of year. Additionally, for some, this time of year is also a painful reminder of those or things we’ve lost. At Garrett Counseling, we understand the trials that the holidays can bring, and want to ensure you that you are not alone. Below are five tips for surviving the winter holidays:

  • Pre-Game: You mean drink a lot of eggnogs beforehand? No. We mean to do a lot of planning beforehand. Get with your tribe and gather verbal agreements that everything should be planned ahead of time. Are we eating out for the holiday meal, or are we cooking? Are we meeting at Maw-Maw’s house or Uncle Joe’s? These are all things that you can square away ahead of time, instead of 15 minutes before time to be somewhere. Communicate these plans with the kids.
  • Simplify, Simplify, Simplify: Phone calls can get overwhelming, so consider reaching out to loved ones via text or email. Got a huge tribe? Start a FaceBook ® group, or other social media page, for the family to convene on. This gives people a place to ask non-emergency questions, make proposals or ideas, and provide solutions without blowing up their phone. Have a kid in the family who is talented with tech? Put them in charge of creating something like this for the whole crew!
  • Share the Love: Delegate tasks, while being realistic. Got a cousin that loves to host? Great! Have the annual gathering at their place, but be considerate. No one likes getting stuck with every part of a task, just because they’re good at it. Arrange for them to have help setting up before and cleaning up after. If things get really crazy with the kids running around, consider paying an older/responsible teen (either in the family or trusted and hired by the family – maybe a friend of your teenager?) to help watch the kids, and ensure they have what they need, so you can have some uninterrupted grown-up social time.
  • Draw Your Lines in the Sand: It can feel selfish to extend boundaries for ourselves and our family, especially around the holidays. Ironically, a lack of healthy boundaries is a large factor to why the holiday season can lead to huge issues. If you struggle with the prospect of too much family togetherness, consult with your partner as to what a good and balanced arrival/leaving time is. If you are a single parent, discuss these boundaries with a good friend or family member and your children – for example, explaining to them that we have to leave after dessert, so get hugs and kisses before, etc.
  • Pick Your Battles: Remember, that the holiday season is a once-a-year thing. While parents never want to condone certain problem behaviours – maybe there are some behaviours that we can use as an opportunity to widen our window of tolerance? An example might be: You put a lot of effort into monitoring your child’s screen time. Good for you! You have an 8-hour trip to see the family with said child in the back seat. Is it really so bad if they get to have the iPad for 2 of those 8 long hours? Another example could be: You really work hard to monitor your child’s nutrition. Is it really the end of the world if you catch Junior with a third cookie at the family gathering? Picking your battles as parents wisely can go along away in surviving the winter holidays.

We hope these tips help you in surviving the winter holidays this year. And, as always, remember that you are not alone. If you feel that you need extra support, now or any time of year, do not hesitate to reach out. If our team of counselors can support you during this season, contact us today by clicking here.

This blog was written by Rachel Brewer, ALC (#C3719A) under the supervision of Jay H. Byham, MS, LPC-S (#0741). Learn more about Rachel here.