The holidays are supposed to be a time for fun and family. But when family members don't get along well, holiday planning can be especially stressful!
There are things you can do to cope, and make holiday planning easier for you and your family. Here's how:
Figure it out. It's important to recognize why you're having difficulties getting along with your in-laws so you can determine the best way to handle the situation. There's a difference between feeling mildly put-off by an unfriendly relative and feeling truly unwelcome in someone's home. In the case of a slightly chilly reception, you might choose to ignore the behavior and make the best of the visit for you and your children. If the issue is more pervasive, you might decide it's best to address it honestly and openly—prior to arriving at your in-laws' house for the holidays.
Plan ahead. When holiday planning, sometimes less is more. If a few days at your in-laws' house seems manageable, don't promise a two-week stay. If, however, you suspect that a visit of any length will outlast your sense of humor, you might offer to book a room in a nearby hotel. Rather than suggesting this in a negative context (like, "We need our space!"), it might be better received if the offer is made in the spirit of helping your in-laws ("We want you to spend the holidays enjoying the kids, not cleaning up after all of us.").
Practice patience. Most of the time, parents and in-laws do mean well. But they aren't always tactful in communicating their message. So if your mother-in-law asks in horror, "You're feeding Sam pancakes for dinner?" it may be her not-so-effective way of saying, "I'd be happy to make him something healthy to eat if you're too busy right now." If you're not sure whether your in-laws are being judgmental or just trying to help, you might choose to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they have your child's best interests at heart. Avoid reacting harshly or insisting that your spouse take sides. Save the holiday "war stories" for your best friend or your therapist.
Bend some rules. You know best when it comes to letting your kids eat grandma's sweets before dinner or stay up past their bedtime because grandpa wants to play more games with them. But find ways to be flexible when holiday planning. As long as your family's health, safety or well-being isn't at risk, consider giving your in-laws (and your kids) some leeway during the holidays. You and the kids will be home and back to your usual routine before you know it.
Be firm about others. Some rules aren't negotiable, no matter how much you want to keep the peace. If a relative wants you to ease up on a limit you're not comfortable with, say so. You can be assertive and respectful simultaneously.
Take care of you. Don't wait until your breaking point to take a break from all that family togetherness. When holiday planning, be sure to schedule regular walks if the weather is good, or release excess tension by working out with exercise tapes indoors. If you cooking is something you enjoy, plan to make some family favorites in the kitchen while the grandparents play with your kids in another room. Or bring a book and encourage everyone to enjoy each other's company while you excuse yourself to read a few chapters. When you take time for yourself, you'll feel less stressed and more relaxed. This is a coping strategy that applies throughout the year, not just during December.report abuse
Keep your perspective (and your sense of humor). It might help to remember that the holidays don't last forever. The other important point to keep in mind is that the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren can be a wonderful and cherished one. So find a useful mantra. Laugh when you can. And focus on the lasting nature of their relationship—and the fleeting nature of your visit.