By Natalie McIvers
Your How-To Guide for The B.E.S.T. Holiday Season
The leaves are turning, the air is getting chilly and you are excited for these next few months of festivities! In the midst of your excitement, you may notice that hints of stress are creeping in and souring the pumpkin spice latte season: also known as the holidays. Your family; your partner’s family; your children, all expect your time and attention. If the demands of this season make you feel like you are going to lose your mind, you are not alone. This stress can be frustrating, especially since you want to enjoy this wonderful season with your loved ones! Thankfully, there are a few simple tricks that can help you ditch the stress and embrace a joyous holiday experience. All you need to do is remember these four things to have your BEST ever holiday season: Boundaries, Expectations, Self-care and Traditions.
Boundaries are the limits that we set for ourselves in order to maintain our safety and wellbeing. When setting boundaries this holiday season, try leading with an “I” statement. This will clearly and kindly communicate your limits. Boundaries can include limits for your time, personal information, and finances. So, this season when that overly-intrusive Aunty of yours is grilling you about your personal life, here is your script: “I don’t feel comfortable talking about that right now, but I would love to tell you about (insert whatever safe topic you choose).” You love your Aunty, but she will just have to get her juicy-gossip elsewhere this year.
Expectations is not a dirty word. They are not demands, they are your hopes, assumptions and preferences. We all have them, and sharing them with your loved ones early on can prevent disappointment and frustration. Clear communication regarding your expectations is a gift for yourself and your loved ones, as it relieves them of the pressure to read your mind. You might communicate your holiday expectations by having conversations about gift spending limits for your kiddos; your down time needs; or romantic dates you are hoping to have with your partner: ice skating and hot chocolate, anyone?
Self-care is all about making time for your own needs. For many parents, this can feel difficult, especially during a season in which you are already pulled in a million different directions. Just remember, taking time for self-care is a necessary anecdote to the dreaded holiday burnout. A simple trick for practicing self-care is to choose one thing that recharges you and makes you feel present. However tempting it is, try and resist the urge to choose something that encourages you to mentally check out (I’m lookin’ at you, Love Is Blind). Instead, choose engaging activities such as getting a festive fall drink at Starbucks, or taking an extra two minutes outside to stop and enjoy the sunset. The trick is to really savor the moment and soak in all the self-love and pampering vibes. The world will be waiting when you are done, and you will be more equipped to face the day.
For many people, the holidays are all about traditions. You love your traditions, and your partner does too. Maybe your family celebrates by having all 20 family members in the home together, while your partner's family opts for an immediate-family only restaurant dinner. In the midst of navigating both your families and personal preferences, don’t forget to create your own new traditions together! Creating shared meaning through traditions is a powerful way to strengthen the bond with your loved one. From making each other handmade tree ornaments, to ordering takeout and watching a cheesy Christmas movie, these rituals are wonderful points of connection that you both can look forward to for years to come.
There you have it, your simple guide to having your BEST ever holiday season! With this guide in hand, you can venture confidently into the land of carbo-load dinners, spiked eggnog, horrendously ugly Christmas sweaters and most importantly, beautiful moments with yourself and your loved ones.