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Top 10 Extended Family Holiday Survival Skills

Wasatch Family Therapyby Julie Hanks, LCSW

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1-Manage your own stress

Examine your own expectations and let go of some things so you’ll be your best version of yourself and able to manage family conflict calmly.

2-Don’t try to please everyone

It’s not your job to make everyone happy and meet their expectations of you. Remember “no one died from disappointment!”

3-Schedule down time

Especially if you have family coming to stay with you during the holidays make sure to carve out time for you and for your marriage. Build self-care into the schedule so you don’t get too overwhelmed.

4-Start with your own family then move outward

Ask yourself, your spouse, and your children how THEY want to spend their time, and make that top priority.

5-Just because you’ve always done it doesn’t mean you have to continue to do it

Traditions are meant to create meaning and promote bonding, not bondage. Choose to skip out on some of the expected things. That’s the beauty of being an adult — you get to choose what you want to do.

6-Set expectations ahead of time

If you know that in the past there have been conflicts, address it ahead of time. Where will family be staying? If you’re hosting a party what are your expectations of others?

7-No on can “guilt trip” you without consent

When you’re approached by a family member about an event you’re not attending or why you didn’t spend as much money as someone spent on you, don’t take the bait!

8-Answer those awkward questions with confidence

You’ve go to love those questions like  “So your husband’s still unemployed?” or “So you finally decided to come to OUR Christmas party this year?” answer directly and with confidence.

9-Assume other’s best intentions

With so many expectations swirling, too much sugar, and not enough sleep, it’s easy to get offended if a sister in law forgot to give you a gift, or if your uncle makes an off-handed comment about your parenting skills. Assume the BEST instead of the worst case scenario for their motive.

10-Listen to others graciously and do what you want to do

While it’s nice if everyone’s expectations are met, it’s unlikely. Empathize with your extended family’s disappointment that you couldn’t make their party or you chose to opt out of a certain tradition, and then continue with your holiday plans.

Merry Christmas and take good care of You and Yours!
Listen to Julie Hanks, LCSW weekly podcast show You and Yours on the Women’s Information Network

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