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Healthy Boundaries: Holidays and Family!

Are the holidays stressful for you? The holidays can be a wonderful time with family but it can also be challenging. Family and friends coming together with differing expectations can cause burnout and disagreements. Setting healthy boundaries with family and friends is important to foster a more peaceful holiday experience.

Here are a few tips from Carol Melim LCSW, that can help you with setting healthy boundaries for a more peaceful holiday… Set Clear Expectations: It is essential to set clear expectations with the children, extended family, and guests during holidays. What does this look like? This means communicating the plan and times for different activities. You can even create a tentative schedule that outlines the times and activities so everyone knows! Another important expectation to communicate is the individual responsibilities for food, activities, cleanup, etc. If everyone is coming over to your home for the holiday dinner, you don’t have to cook ALL the food. You can ask the relatives and friends if they would like to bring their signature dish or something else as a side for the meal! This communicates to them that they need to bring food and lightens your task list! Children can benefit from additional guidance during the holiday as well. It can be helpful to remind them of their responsibilities (setting the table, cleaning up the craft, greeting guests). Set Clear Boundaries: Have there been arguments or tension at holiday gatherings in the past? You already know this is a concern…but it doesn’t have to be. You can reach out to the parties who are bad terms in advance. One possibility is to ask them to resolve the issue before the visit OR set aside the disagreement if they would like to participate. Sometimes there are specific topics that cause tension or arguments. In these cases, you can let everyone know specific topics (such as politics and religion) are off-limits during the holiday. Pre-Plan Kids Activities: During the holidays there is much excitement with family and friends. The holidays can be very fun for children. It can be helpful to plan activities to keep the kids engaged during the holiday. Pre-planning activities for the kids can help keep them involved so they are less likely to be bored and get into trouble. Holiday themed crosswords, games, and projects are just a few ideas for children during the holiday. Prepare in Advance: Are there holiday tasks that can be done a few weeks before? It can be helpful to check some boxes off your list in the weeks leading up to your holiday. Pick up decorations… check! Assemble activity supplies… done! Make Traditions a Priority: Maintaining traditions helps to bind you together as a family! It doesn’t have to be huge… It could be a small tradition that is meaningful to members of your family! One tradition that many families enjoy is story time with senior family members. It can be a wonderful experience for grandma and grandpa to share their favorite holiday memories with the whole family! And remember… the best part… to enjoy making new memories with your friends and family!

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