Updated: Mar 9
Maybe some of you feel excited during this time of the year...
thinking of sharing time with extended family and favorite traditions and comforting food and giving and getting gifts and traveling and visiting and warm times around a cozy fireplace....
Maybe some of you feel stressed during this time of the year...
thinking about loved ones who are no longer with you because of death or broken relationships, or not having enough money or time nor are healthy enough to get the gifts you think are wanted or needed or to travel to visit with family...
If you are in the first group, praise God! Please, take a moment to celebrate these wonderful blessings!
If, however, you are in the second group, please know that you are not alone!
Four Stress Fighters to Help Things be Merry & Bright!
Holiday Stress Fighter #1:
Take Care of Yourself
Moms, so often WE are the ones who set the tone in our homes. But you can't possibly be kind and loving and patient and self-controlled if you are "running on empty!" You can only give from what you have...so what do you have?
You have to take care of yourself first! Your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health matters!
Here is an article in which I discuss the benefits to your parenting of being mindful in your everyday life. But, what else can you do? Are you getting enough SLEEP? Are you eating food that helps you thrive or just survive? Are you getting out in the sun, getting exercise, drinking enough water? Are you prioritizing time in God's Word?
Please, know that you have to take care of yourself first or nothing else will even matter.
Holiday Stress Fighter #2:
A while back I did a 5-minute Training Video in the Connect Point Moms Facebook Group called "Managing Expectations in Relationships" In it, I talk about the importance of being aware that there is usually a "gap" between what you expect and what actually IS. In short, we all have expectations for ourselves and others and when reality doesn't match up, there is a gap. What you fill that gap with is your choice: You can believe the best or assume the worst in any situation.
For example, is it possible that....
Aunt Maggie is actually making that face because she has a headache - and it has nothing whatsoever to do with how she may feel about your table arrangement?
Your in-laws are late simply because they are poor time managers and not because they don't care about your time and being with your family?
Uncle Joe is really just trying to connect with you and your kids, even though his jokes are sometimes inappropriate?
Holiday Stress Fighter #3:
I love and respect my parents dearly and I know they love me, my husband, and our children! We get along well and enjoy spending time together. However (key the music dunt, dunt DUUUN!), we fundamentally disagree on political, social, and even some religious issues. Therefore, we simply avoid talking about them! We are blessed to know that no one is going to change anyone's mind, so why even bring it up?
If that is not the case in your family, I suggest you prepare polite but firm responses beforehand for possible issues:
"Thanks for your concern, but I'm happy with my weight/our living arrangement/my job situation/ our schooling choice/my teenagers clothing style" or "I prefer to talk about something else. Tell me about your trip to Florida/how Aunt Sue is doing.”
You could also try: “We don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like. So let’s make this a loving, fun time for all by talking about things that build us up rather than separate us.”
Holiday Stress Fighter #4:
Use Code Words
Let's face it, sometimes it is just awkward and hard to be around certain people and you may even find yourself thinking, "If we weren't related, I would not be hanging out with you!"
It's good to recognize that. But if you ARE hanging out, you may as well make the best of it!
However, if things get too heated or just plain uncomfortable, have a "Code" between you and your spouse - or even with your children - so you can help each other disengage from a difficult conversation or situation. It may be something simple like your spouse knowing when you say, "Honey, I am starting to get a headache, do you have the Motrin?" that he needs to help you get away from the one who has you cornered! Or coaching your teens that when Uncle Tom's jokes start to get off color, they can say, "Oh! I forgot to tell my mom that Stacie called this morning. Excuse me." Then, when they say, "Mom, I forgot to tell you that Stacie called this morning" you can help get them out of that difficult situation.
I'd love to hear about how these have worked for you or if you have any other "Stress Fighters" to add! The "follow up" video to this (Extended Family Stress and Kids) can be found HERE. Check it out!
#ConnectPointMoms helps you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you're in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them!
Some books that have helped me along the way include: