You may not be able to take the “hectic” out of the holidays but you can follow a few tips to make them more relaxing and to allow yourself to enjoy quality family time.
Talk About the Holiday Decisions in Advance
Each family member has different expectations on how your holidays will go. Even small misunderstandings about what time you’re leaving for Grandma’s Christmas Eve can spark tension at a busy time. Both parents and kids should be clear on what is possible and what is not. Yes, the kids can have a movie marathon one night; no, they can’t refuse to go to grandma’s reception; and yes, both parents will take turns sleeping in.
Show Your Gratitude
Holidays can get tense because people start to feel unappreciated. Respond to each other more kindly and instead of feeling divided, the family will feel like a team. Thank the kids when they FINALLY finish signing Christmas cards and praise your mother-in-law’s efforts for making dinner for 12 in a cramped house—being grateful sets an example for the kids and diffuses tension that can build up.
Make Chaos Fun
Try and turn holiday mayhem into fun. Still packing the car and you’re already ½ hour late? See who can make up the silliest excuse for your tardiness. Dinner at the in-laws isn’t for an hour and the kids are tired and cranky? Start a guessing game of “How starving are you? Could you eat an elephant?”. Distraction works for old and young, and laughter can make you forget what was so frustrating in the first place.
Make a Travel Kit
Holidays often involve travel, be it a road trip to visit the grandparents or a flight to sand and surf. Keep everyone happy by coming prepared. Throw slices of cheese, apples, and yogurt drinks in a cooler bag for nutritious snacks. Bring a couple plastic bags for emergency garbage disposal and don’t forget the kids’ favourite toys or books. A small surprise (new CD, toy) pulled out at the right time can save everyone’s sanity.