Surviving Christmas Chaos: 3 Tips for Managing Family During the Holiday Season

Every year, as the holidays approach, my anxiety rises. 

Navigating all of the activities during the holiday season is exhausting! Between my two sets of parents, siblings, my husband’s family, and close friends, it seems like we are doing something holiday related every few days from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. By the end of the season, we are holidayed out.  Last year, we decided to make a change.  The three tips below gave us our sanity back, which isn’t always easy during this crazy time.

Holiday season

Be honest with yourself. 

Last year, I was due with my second child mid-December. Hosting Thanksgiving while 35 weeks pregnant maxed me out. It was enough to make me say, “enough” when it comes to holiday chaos. I sat my husband down and told him I think it was about time we do what is best for our children and ourselves instead of everyone else. I love my parents, siblings, inlaws, and friends, but at some point, something has to give. I needed to do what was best for me going forward. I know it sounds selfish but similar to the mask on the airplane, you can’t keep anyone else full of holiday cheer if you are running on empty. My first tip- you need to be honest with yourself when it comes to the holidays. Sit down and actually write out what YOU want to do.  Take your time, don’t do it in the heat of the moment when your inner Grinch is rearing its ugly head. After writing out my wishes, I realized I didn’t need much time, it was quality over quantity that I was seeking.

Be honest with your partner. 

After completing my holiday wish list, I went to my husband, ready to defend myself. But to my surprise, he felt the same way.  We were trying to do way too much and therefore failing at all of it. We decided it was time to start our own Christmas traditions. We had several conversations about what that would mean for our family. We finally settled on this; we would NOT be leaving our house the night of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. It is important to me that our children, especially as they get older, have downtime during the holiday season.  We are taking this time as our family of four to watch holiday movies, order pizza, and just veg. While it doesn’t like anything special, this time allows us a chance to hang as a family, which is hard to come by now and days. My second tip is to be honest with your partner and work to find the best plan together. This may involve some awkward conversations, especially when it comes to extended family. But the more honest you are (it is important to be honest and not selfish) the easier it will be to figure out how to balance the holiday.

Be honest with your family.

My husband and I each when to our parents and explained our new holiday tradition. At first there was some pushback, but we politely told everyone that we need this time to reset so we can be at our best! Our parents had their time to make their own traditions and now it is our turn. Although my children won’t remember this special night for the next few years, we are setting the expectation, something that I have learned is just as important as the action itself when it comes to navigating family. We love our family and friends but we need to do what is best for our children and ourselves. After a few conversations, our entire family came to realize that we needed to do this to be happy. While it isn’t ideal for everyone, part of being a family is learning to give and take. We still make sure to see everyone at some point between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, but these two days are off limits. Now that we have established this, there is no need for back and forth, and I can take a deep breath knowing that no matter how chaotic the holiday season gets, we always have this quiet time. Change is hard, but if they want what is best for you, your family will learn to accept it over time. 

While it might now always be the case, this is a time when honestly really is the best policy when negotiating family dynamics. It hasn’t been easy, but being honest with myself, my husband and my family has allowed me to take a deep breath and embrace all that the holiday season has to offer. I can finally say that I am learning how to love the holidays again.

How do you handle the chaos and navigate your family during the holiday season?

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