By Aly Pain
Turn up the Christmas carols and crack open the egg nog and mulled wine! This year you get to celebrate baby Jesus AND not spend one extra second with family you only pretend to like. On the other hand, you’ll be spending even more time with the same people you’ve been home with since March during the longest spring break in history.
Travelling on winter roads or formerly packed airplanes was never actually fun anyway. Even a few days with your parents in their ‘82 degree sweat lodge’ on the blow-up mattress in the den that sprung a slow leak around 2 am and now you’re basically laying on the floor, or the weekend at your sister-in-law’s with your niece and nephew teaching your teens ‘all the things’ you worked hard to steer them away from, while their new puppy chews holes in your favorite leather boots.
It’s ok to say it.
You’re looking forward to a holiday hiatus and sharing your good tidings over a video call with your sanity safely intact, your teens not knowing the latest vape juice and pot bongs, and your boots living to see another winter.
It’s about quality, not quantity.
Trying to create magical moments with Pinterest worthy pics every moment won’t work either.
What if this is an opportunity to redefine what quality time together looks like?
Talk about it.
Your life is different now too and that likely means missing time with friends and the freedom to enjoy activities and travel. It’s ok to feel sad and angry about all of it. By openly sharing your feelings about the current situation, you give your teens permission to share too.
Your teen is missing their social time, sports, school functions, the arts, music, and more. They’re likely stuck in some level of grief because they keep being told it won’t last forever. Their lives have been turned upside down during their most impressionable years and they need a safe place to feel and express their confusion, anger, sadness, fear, etc.
Here’s seven ideas to help your family connect over the holidays without driving each other crazy.
- Talk about what you miss and why – From the chaotic family gathering or impromptu tobogganing and backyard fires with friends, it’s imperative to honor sadness in order to enjoy other things.
- Do something you haven’t previously had time to do over the holidays – Have everyone contribute to a list and do what you need to make one of those things happen.
- Find the gift in a quieter Christmas – What’s good about having less to do and celebrate that (bookworms unite!).
- Try something new close to home – Snowshoeing, a scenic walk/hike, skating, etc – putting everyone in ‘beginner shoes’ is an opportunity to connect on a new level and share some laughs.
- Borrow a game or puzzle – Every family has games they’re tired of or puzzles they completed 5 times in April. Arrange a contactless exchange and make a challenge for the new fastest time.
- Plan alone and quiet time – As I mentioned above, being together 24/7 can be challenging (and we already did that in March, April, and May, but who’s counting) and it’s unrealistic. Plan for quiet/alone times so everyone can rest and recover, play video games online with friends, read, journal, nap, etc.
- Have an open-ended conversation with your teen – What if you asked your teen his/her thoughts on dating (or another important topic), and just listened? These are great ways to connect during slower times so you have time to hear what your teen thinks and believes about important topics without being rushed or you needing to explain or correct them.
- Try my FREE Challenge ‘5 Days to a Better Relationship with Your Teen’ and get access to my free FB Community for parents just like you.
Whether you love being the Griswald’s and cramming too many people (and lights) in one house at Christmas, your mother hijacks your home and the holiday, ending up like Mila Kunis in Bad Moms 2 or this is the hall pass you’ve always wanted for the entire season, I promise there’s a way through this and you don’t have to do it alone. Connect with your friends and family as much as feels right for you.
If that list above feels too long, start at #8. It will support you through the first seven.