What to Expect This Holiday Season

What to Expect This Holiday Season

What should you expect this holiday season? What can you expect?

Much is written about expectations.

  • Don’t set your expectations too high.
  • Don’t set your expectations too low.
  • Set realistic expectations.

I think there is value in each of those statements.

And I have something to add.

Your expectations need to be specific and you need to be reflective.

Here’s what I mean.

Take five minutes and reflect on last December.

What were the high points?

  • Going to lunch with friends you hadn’t seen in a long time.
  • Taking your family to see a holiday performance.
  • Relaxing on Christmas morning with your family.
  • Having an open house where your close friends came over.
  • Decorating the house with your daughter.

What were the stressful or low points?

  • Arguing with your daughter during finals.
  • Being so busy that you were too exhausted to enjoy the holidays.
  • Frustrated that your daughter stayed on her phone during Christmas dinner.
  • Dealing with bossy and critical in-laws.
  • Resentful that your family didn’t help you out more.

Here is the big mistake I see moms make. We hope that things will be different and wonderful this year and we forget what happened last year.

What if I told you that there was a gift in remembering last year’s stress?

Well there is. The gift is that those unpleasant memories give you a thumb’s up about this year. Many of the frustrations from last year will repeat if you don’t do things differently.

Good chance your daughter will get stressed about finals. Your kids won’t want to spend all day at grandmas house. Aunt Bess will still tell you how to cook. Your husband will still give you a gift card from Macys when you are really hoping for a nice pair of earrings.

Okay this next part will take a little time but it is well worth it.

1. What do you want?

Look back at the things that frustrated you last year. What were the expectations that didn’t get met?

Now write down what you want this year. You want to get as clear and specific as possible. What needs to change? Are there some boundaries that need to get established between you and your daughter, husband or in-laws?

2. Be proactive.

For things to change you probably need to have some conversations with your family members now.

Who do you need to have a conversation with?

You can talk to your daughter about why it is important to spend the day with the grandparents. ” Abby I want this Christmas to be our best one ever. I remember last year you sat in the corner of Grandmas house and seemed pretty angry. All you did was text your friends. And then I ended up losing my temper and taking your phone away for the next month. Grandma got her feelings hurt. How could this year be different? We are still going to Grandma’s Christmas morning. What are your ideas?”

In a playful way you can tell your husband that the Macy’s card isn’t going to cut it. Send him pictures of earrings that you like with happy emoticons.

3. Decide how you want to feel.

There are some things that you probably can’t change. You can tell Aunt Bess to relax in the living room but she may still barge into the kitchen and tell you how to make your stuffing. Your daughter will probably still be stressed during finals.

But you can decide how you want to feel ahead of time. You can decide to ignore your daughter’s negativity or Aunt Bess’s bossiness.

How do you want to feel? Happy. Grateful. Joyful. Relaxed. Now make that an intention. I intend to enjoy my family and myself.

4. Be kind to you.

You can’t have a perfect Martha Stewart Christmas or Hanukah and be kind to you. (Unless you have an army of helpers) All of us are bombarded with unrealistic cultural expectations about what the holidays should look like.

There is too much going on in the month of December. It is impossible to do it all. Something has to give. You don’t want to miss the point of the holiday because you’re stressed about wrapping paper and homemade pies.

How can you be kind to you this month?

  • Spend 30 minutes writing down your specific expectations.
  • Hire or elicit extra help.
  • Make time for yourself and your closest friends.
  • Take an extra day off of work.
  • Sleep in.
  • Delegate ahead of time.
  • Stay at home and not travel.
  • Say no to that party you feel you should go to.

*** If you have had a significant loss this year be extra extra extra kind to yourself this month.

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