We are in the middle of the Holiday season with Christmas just days away! Everyone is getting their favorite recipes and cookware ready. Have you thought about how to manage the cooking, cleaning, and all of the emotions that may be descending on your house? Or are you traveling to see family and all the different expectations and emotions that will be waiting for you there?
Here are a few tips for enjoying the holiday season and not just surviving it.
- When preparing an extensive menu, there is enviably a dish that won’t get eaten. In our house, it’s the green salad, so I cut it out of the menu a few years ago. Do the same thing with your expectations cut them down. We often build up one day or meal to be Instagram perfect when that is a mere second of curated photography. What you don’t see on Instagram is the hurt feelings or the fighting children or adults.
- Before you leave or guests arrive, practice self-care. Take a day (or more likely an hour) to do something that is truly just for you.
- No is a complete sentence. Set your boundaries early, let people know that your rules are in place for the health and safety of you and/or your child. Be clear, kind, and firm.
- Schedule downtime. It is exciting to be with our family when we don’t get to see them often, but everyone needs a break. Keep an eye on how your kids are doing with the relatives they don’t often see, remember you are asking them to jump in and play with kids and adults they may not recognize or have never met. This can be overwhelming for some children.
- Think about where everyone is sleeping. Maybe instead of everyone staying at Mom and Dad’s this year, you choose to get a hotel or rent a house nearby. This gives everyone a chance to have a little extra space, which can be especially welcome if there is a new baby in the family. Some families choose to have a quiet breakfast over the holidays and join their families around lunchtime.
- If you have one person who you have a problematic relationship with over Christmas dinner is not the time to talk about it. If you feel like you do need to talk about anything serious, do it now, it is much easier to clear the air with one person than having a table full of opinions involved as well.
- Realize that not everything will go according to your plan. That is okay; some of the best memories are made when life doesn’t go as planned. (Our oven broke in the middle of cooking the turkey this Thanksgiving!)
- As you think about the day, reach out to those who you are spending it with, ask them what they are most looking forward to; together, focus on the parts that are important to each of you. It may be time to let go of old traditions that no one enjoys.
- Start a new tradition; if no one enjoys cooking the meal, have one catered or go out. Does everyone sit around but not really know what to talk about? Bring a board game and start a tradition of playing games after eating. Whatever works for your family is what is right, and may change as families grow over the years. It’s okay to let go of the old and embrace the new.
- Go back to self-care. As the year come to a close; take time to enjoy the moments with family but make time for your regular exercise, meditation, or hot bath. Keep doing whatever small thing you do for just you.
An added bonus tip from my kitchen; always have lasagna in the freezer, you never know what can go wrong with dinner!
Leah Robilotto, Founder of The Food Allergy Institute