This may bring forth a love or hate reaction but…the holidays are upon us! This is the time of year that I start asking clients about their holiday plans for scheduling purposes. However, I also bring this up so that we can be prepared about what to expect over the next few months.
As much as the holidays are portrayed as positive, they are often full of stress, confusion, sometimes heartache, and pain. While some of it is unavoidable, coming into the season prepared can help a lot with giving you peace of mind about what is coming up. Planning can help make it a holiday season that you can look back on fondly.
So, sit down with some paper and pen, gather those closest to you, and work through these three areas to identify how you can honor each. The people that you choose to discuss your holiday plans with can be a spouse, a roommate, a partner, etc.
Whose family are you going to and when? When are work parties? Friend parties? Are you going to all of these events? None of them? Do you want to do zoo lights? Drive around for lights? Movies in the park? Ice skating? Religious services?
Not only do you need to go through the logistics of the major holiday days, but also touch on the smaller events that may mean a lot to you. These could be small moments like “I want to spend a weekend where we do nothing but spend time with our household family”, “I want to take a holiday romantic date night”, and anything in between!
While many of us want to get everything done and experience all that the holidays have to offer, that is often impossible. With that in mind, take an honest evaluation of what is genuinely the most important to you. What will you regret not going to after the fact and what might you not care about? Asking this question can give insight into what is important to you.
If you have kids, remember to ask them too! Often, kids get lost in the busyness of this time of year. You might be surprised to find what the kids do and don’t care about. Have each kid write a list of things they want to do and then work together to figure out a reasonable amount that can be done. Even if you can only make time for just one thing from each person’s list. This can be a connecting time with the family where the children know they are being heard and valued.
Just as we work to make sure expectations and priorities are met, we must also work to make sure our limits are respected. This could be the limits of “I can only stay one night at your parent’s house” or “I don’t want to go to more than two kids’ events alone.” Be honest with yourself (and your partner) about what you will and won’t be able to do while maintaining some sense of sanity. Schedule in alone time to slow down. Allow some days where you don’t schedule anything until the day of to see where everyone in the family is that day and evaluate their energy levels.
What do you struggle with most during the holidays? Let us know!
If we can support you now or at any time, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment with one of our licensed counselors.