December 2, 2020
Dealing with the experience of the holiday season can be stressful. Trying to interact with family can be stressful. Those two factors alone can be a recipe for significant frustration, but then add a pandemic into the mix. Yikes! Try these five family-friendly tips to navigate tricky scenarios and conversations that this season brings.
Focus on what you can control
Manage expectations by setting boundaries and offering alternate plans with family and friends. These conversations can be tricky to navigate, so use “I” and “we” language, and offer a solution. For example, say Uncle Joe drops by with presents for everyone, and wants to come inside tow watch them being opened. Try saying: “Uncle Joe, I would love for you to watch the kids open up the gifts, but I’m not comfortable having anyone come into my house. Can we call you later on Zoom so we can open the gifts together?”
Others may be upset by the boundaries you set. That’s okay. Just be respectful in your delivery, and refrain from criticizing or fixing others.
Find things to enjoy
This holiday season is going to be different. Full stop. Instead of dwelling in the past, enjoy this time for what it is! Test new family traditions, and include your kids in creating them. Maybe they want a pajama day, or walk through the neighborhood looking at holiday lights. Get creative here! It’s all about creating experiences that will turn into fond memories.
Everyone has their own vision of how the holidays are going to look this year, and plans are constantly changing as new guidance comes out from the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and other officials. Maybe right now you’re still planning to bring kids to Grandma’s house for New Years Eve, but restrictions could prevent that in a few weeks.
Brainstorm with your family and friends to create backup plans. Maybe you can drive the kids past Grandma’s house and pop poppers and blow horns instead. Be open to new ideas and plans, especially if they are out of the box!
Studies show that establishing a gratitude practice with your family positively affects your kids’ mental health, reduces stress, and helps them grow up to have more satisfaction in their lives.
Try having your kids create a gratitude jar. Find a container, have them decorate it, and keep it in a special space. Each day have them write one thing they are grateful for, discuss it together, and place it in the jar. Another version of this is having them keep a gratitude journal. Kids can decorate the cover, and write down sentences or draw pictures of what they are grateful for. The key is to make this into a daily habit to train their brains into noticing the good in the world.
Remember to sleep
It’s no secret that sleep deprivation leaves you feeling exhausted and irritable, which is a recipe for arguments and negativity.
Stick to your family’s bedtime routine most of the time, and make sure everyone gets a solid 8 hours of sleep per night. It’s okay to bend the rules once in a while, but don’t make a habit of it.
– Jeremy Richardson, LPC
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