For as full of joy and cheer as the holidays are (or advertised to be), they’re also full of stress. Particularly for couples with young children, the holidays can feel like a tug-of-war between one side of the family and the other. But it’s possible to please both sides of the family during the holiday season — yes, I swear! And the way to do it is by actually aiming to please no one but yourselves.
Here’s the trick: do what’s best for your nuclear family, and let everything and everyone else fall into place. You will never be able to please everyone, and trying to do so will add nothing but more stress to you and your family. But that doesn’t mean that the headache of deciding whose house to visit on Christmas is any less real, and if your family is anything like mine, guilt trips abound. Everyone wants to be hold Baby Susie for the first time, or see how big Little Jack has gotten since last year. But as the ones who have to tote your bundles of joy around, you get the ultimate say in where you go and how you celebrate.
So how can you prioritize your family’s needs while not pissing off your extended family? Here are some tips for navigating the tricky waters of holiday season with the fam.
What’s most important to you as a family? Is it ensuring as few headaches as possible? Is it seeing Grandma Joan, who is in ill health? Is it avoiding Uncle John? Talk to your partner and decide what’s most important to you this holiday season.
Don’t commit to anything, but talk about where the celebration will be and what everyone hopes to accomplish this season. Set your boundaries and make it clear that, while you’d like to be with everyone this holiday, that may not be possible, so you’re going to do what’s best for you.
What can you afford? Maybe one family is much closer and you don’t have the cash to fly across the country. That’s a valid decision-making tool in itself.
Talk it out and make a list, if you have to.
If there’s one side of the family you won’t get to see, plan a gathering for another time, so they know they’ll still get to see you sometime soon.
Technology makes it possible for people to be together even when they’re far apart. If you can only be with one partner’s family, FaceTime with the other, so you can say hi to everyone and briefly participate in the festivities.