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How to allocate family time during the holiday hustle

Posted at 1:15 PM, Nov 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-18 15:32:49-05

Managing the Holiday Hustle

The Holiday Hustle begins October 31st and doesn`t finally quiet down until after New Year. Unfortunately, the holidays also come with the mixed emotions of having to navigate multiple relationships with multiple families among multiple events and celebrations.

Think about a nuclear family, you have two sets of parents (yours and your in-laws). Now factor in if your parents are divorced and re-partnered and if your in-laws have done the same. Now you are calendaring the holidays around five separate family`s needs and wants. It`s enough to throw the towel in and just go out of the country for the entire month of December!

Managing the Holiday Hustle doesn`t have to be a nightmare but it does require foresight and boundaries. Here are six tips for ensuring your hustle doesn`t become a hassle.

1. Seek to Understand Other`s Needs Before Making Decisions. If you are looking to balance the relational demands that come with the Holidays, step one is always to take in information first. Before you start making decisions about where to spend the Holidays and with whom, talk to your in-laws and ask them this important question:
What is MOST important to you for the holidays? Quality time together? Tradition? A meal together? Hosting you at your home? Inclusion in our family events? Religious observance?
2. Plan your Holiday Early and Establish Consistency
Get your calendar out at the beginning of summer and start planning at least six months in advance. Consider alternating Holidays and years to maintain balance and predictability. If you celebrated Thanksgiving with your parents last year, perhaps you celebrate with your in-laws this year.

3. Strongly Consider Space and Numbers When Making Plans
How many guests are too many? If you are hosting in your home, keep the number to an appropriate size so that conversation can be quality over quantity. 'The more the merrier' does not apply in this situation. An overcrowded party can be an anxiety producing event for many.

4. Consider Putting Guests Up Out of the House
Airbnb, VRBO and hotels are a great option for out of town guests to be able to seek refuge and relaxation (and you too) away from the bustle of a busy hosting home.

5. Always Take Your Partner`s Side
Bringing the family together for the Holidays doesn`t guarantee that everyone will be on their best behavior. Whatever form of naughty or nice that plays out in your family dynamic, be sure that you are on TEAM UNITY. Lock arms with your spouse and ward off snide comments together. It is NOT okay for your mother to speak disrespectfully to or about your partner and it is YOUR responsibility to speak up. Saying nothing implies unity with your mother which is a betrayal to your partner.
6. Create Your Own Tradition
If you spend all your time honoring other`s traditions, you never create a sense of we-ness in your own family. Create and celebrate your own traditions. Go through your memories of the holidays as a kid. What did you like? What was special to you? What would you like to continue to do or what would you like to create new for your own family?

The Holidays can quickly get out of hand when you start to blur your boundaries and are bending over backward to meet everyone else`s needs. Recognize that you can not make anyone else happy but yourself.