Light up your Holidays: Helpful Survival Tips for the Holiday Season

Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT

Holiday Lights
pixabay[Christmas Lights by Ash_barr, December 19, 2015, CCO]
Okay, folks… it’s that time again! The holidays are just around the corner. And, with that comes the following:

  • Spending time with people we love and with people we don’t
  • Cooking, eating and the hope that our pants will still zip
  • Trying to figure out what to do with the kids while they are out of school for a few weeks and what it will take to get them to stop begging for every single toy they see in the store from now until the actual holiday you celebrate
  • (For some military families) Figuring out how to navigate the holidays while a loved one is deployed
  • Having to manage a completely packed schedule full of school events, family gatherings, extracurricular activities, work holiday parties and all of the other things that might come up!
  • Planning ways to see everyone in the family over the holidays so that no one gets their feelings hurt
  • Budgeting appropriately so that you can buy everyone nice gifts without going into complete debt

 

Do any (or all) of these sound familiar to you? And, if you are anything like me, I somehow manage to have most of this list pop up every single year without fail. You would think that we would have all of this down to a science by now, right? Well, don’t you worry! You are in good company! Here are a few tips that might help you this holiday season! And, try to remember where you put this when you are feeling it all come back around next year.

 

  • Spending time with people we love and with people we don’t- This is a tough one, we know. But, try to think of it as a balance, the yin and yang, if you will. Spending time with the people we don’t like all that much will help us appreciate those we do even more. Want a tip? Challenge yourself this year and try to find ONE thing that you really like about the person (or people) you are not looking forward to seeing. We often end up getting caught up in past feelings that we have towards certain people in our lives. Try and use this strategy as a catalyst for changing your relationship to that person. Sure, it may be tough, but that’s why it’s called a challenge. 
  • Cooking, eating, and hoping that our pants will still zip- You thought the Family Development team would be able to give you tips on this?! We will leave it to the experts over at MFLN Nutrition and Wellness to cover this one. 
  • Trying to figure out what to do with the kids while they are out of school for a few weeks- I know the story all too well. It seems like the holiday breaks from school sneak up on us so fast. And, before we know it, we find ourselves struggling to find childcare for our kiddos. Want a tip? At the beginning of the school year, instead of only putting the dates that the kids are out of school in the calendar, put a reminder about 1 month ahead of time for the holiday break. This way, if you are like me and only look at one week at a time, it won’t sneak up on you and come as a complete shock when the kids get out next week and you have no one to keep them. Be kind to yourself by inserting lots of little reminders and post-it notes to help you keep track of it all! NO ONE can retain that much information without some assistance. Additionally, this tip will help the kids that have harder times with transitions. You can give them ample opportunity to prepare for their holiday break plans!
  • Trying very hard not to lose your patience with the kids when they are constantly begging for every single toy they see in the store from now until the actual holiday you celebrate- Yes… it happens to us all! And I can pretty confidently say that you did this to your parents when you were a kid too. Want a tip? Stay in your house, locked away until all of the holidays are over. JUST KIDDING! Suggesting that you stay away from any toy section in a store is really not helpful. Most stores these days have figured out the ingenious marketing strategy of placing toys throughout the entire place, starting in October. Want a tip? For your kids who know how to read and write: give them a notebook and pen and allow them to take it with them when you go shopping. Tell them that they may write down things that they see that make them want to yell out to the world that they want it. But, tell them up front that the paper is where they must share this, rather than out loud. You are helping yourself and them in a couple of different ways here. You are helping them with their reading and writing, you are helping them exercise self-control by using their hands to communicate rather than their mouths. You are helping yourself by having some quiet time, by saving yourself from having to repeat the same phrases over and over again (no, you can’t have that or maybe you will get that for Christmas or Hanukkah), AND you are having them make a wish list for you instead of having to dig deep down into those memory banks to pull out which toy it was that they went nuts over.
  • (For some military families) Figuring out how to navigate the holidays while a loved one is deployed- The truth is, this stinks. And, it would be amazing if all members of our families could be with us during the holidays. But, it’s just not always possible. Want a tip? Try to find other families experiencing the same absence during the holidays to have some moral support and be able to reciprocate that support. Include the absent family member by sharing stories about them during your gatherings. Come together as a family and make care packages that include family-made crafts.
  • Having to manage a completely packed schedule full of school events, family gatherings, extracurricular activities, work holiday parties and all of the other things that might come up- You know this happens every single year without fail. It’s like the flood gates open on November 1st and it looks like you won’t have one single free moment until the end of January. Want a tip? Remember this- you don’t have to attend everything. In fact, it might be a good idea not to do it all. If it feels too overwhelming, try to prioritize the functions. You can even make this a family activity by sitting down with everyone and sharing each other’s top 3 activities that they would like to attend. Then, decide as a family on what you will attend and what you will not. Take some pressure off of yourselves by taking a couple of activities off of your list.
  • Planning ways to see everyone in the family over the holidays so that no one gets their feelings hurt – Yes, folks, I brought it up! I mean, why not? They make movies about it, right? We have all been there at some point. We want to try our best to please everyone and to see everyone. But, here is the truth: It just may not happen. The best way to manage this it to take turns each year or each holiday. But, make sure that you write it down somewhere so that you don’t have to try and remember what you did the year before. And, make the plans ahead of time rather than on the fly. If you can work out times that you can have holiday celebrations on dates other than the actual holidays, that’s okay too. Try to just appreciate the fact that you can get together at all rather than getting too caught up on the actual date.
  • Budgeting appropriately so that you can buy everyone nice gifts without going into complete debt- We aren’t too great at this topic either. So, read up on what our friends at Personal Finance have to say about this! 

 

Now, save this to your phone or computer or print yourself a copy so you can pull it out next year on November 1st! We will remind you! Happy Holidays from all of us at MFLN Family Development!

This post was written by Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT, the social media and programming specialist for the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development team on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

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