You know the time has come when there is a chill in the air (even in Florida from time to time). These last two years have been trying times, and very much unlike any other years. It is not even comparable to the time that you fell into the toilet with the lights off because your significant other forgot to put the toilet seat down–wait maybe that was just me! Whoops! Jokes aside, that time of year has arrived! Tis the season where you may have to face off with your in-laws. Don’t worry though, you have some time to prep. Here are a few tips to help you manage your in-laws this holiday season.
Prep Yourself Mentally
Now, you may be one of the lucky ones to have awesome in-laws that greet you with open arms and offer to help take the burden off your shoulders. The ones that only say kind words without passive aggressive comments. If you have in-laws like this, CHERISH them FOREVER and NEVER LET THEM LEAVE!
Not everyone can be so lucky though, so how do you manage your in-laws you may ask? You need to prep yourself mentally, just like if you were a football player in the locker room before a big game. Hype up by reminding yourself how awesome you are and remember that “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you” (whomever came up with this phrase was a LIAR, by the way). Seriously though, you need to remind yourself that this much time with extended family is just temporary. If anything is said to you that may punch you right in your very soul, you can choose to ignore it or politely advise them that you will not accept anything other than courteous conversation.
Yes, boundaries can and do exist in families. I highly recommend teaming up with your partner and advising them of these boundaries so you are on the same team. Make sure these boundaries are discussed and agreed upon before anyone comes over. If you need to pinky swear, or write an agreement- DO IT!
Now these boundaries can be anything, but I know this year will be even more stressful with COVID still among us. So if wearing masks are a part of the negotiation, add it in. If making sure there is not any unsolicited advice, add it in. Whatever you do, just make sure that you and significant other agree and implement these boundaries at all times. If you even need a code word, like “Tiramisu” USE IT! Sometimes being on the same team with your partner is difficult when it comes to families, but you need to set the precedent in advance.
The holidays are stressful for everyone, even without a pandemic! I am someone who tends to want everything to be perfect and that obviously never comes to fruition. I have learned throughout the years that people WILL BE LATE, people may not understand the effort you may put into the holidays, and they won’t always comprehend that you do it all out of love and joy. Not everyone is like YOU and therefore they can’t always relate. The one thing I can say, is that whenever you are struggling, be honest. Tell your partner, ask for help and if something is bothering you, talk about it. Don’t internalize or let things slide, because it will only make you more upset as time goes on.
Fight Club Is Not Permitted
Please try to remember that the holidays are a time for everyone to come together (Yes, even your sister-in-law who forgot Timmy’s birthday AGAIN this year). The holidays are not the time to initiate the first round of fight club. I recommend that anything emotional or deeply sensitive be handled at a later time. You can still respect yourself and be the bigger person at the same time. Just take a moment and breathe whenever you feel that something is really bothering you. Excuse yourself out of the room (just make sure to do so quietly and not make it a Soap Opera exit).
These are all just a few pieces of advice to help you manage the holiday season with your in-laws. Now, I understand all family dynamics are different. The Holidays can be tough, emotional and sometimes hard. I encourage you to do the best you can during the holidays. None of us are perfect, but I can tell you that letting the storm pass is better than getting caught up in the hurricane.
Wishing you all a happy and joyful holiday season!