How to Dial Down the Holiday Drama
Recently a mom told me, “I’m so sick of hearing the song, It’s the most wonderful time of the year, everywhere I go. Really . . . the most wonderful time of the year???
Here’s the deal. The holidays can be a huge setup for teen drama, even when there was no covid and your teens were in their normal routines.
1. Expectations are different. Moms and teens have high expectations for the holidays but with very different definitions of wonderful. Mom hopes for cozy family time where everyone is happy and gets along. Teens hope for a cozy time with their boyfriend or girlfriend and doing something exciting with their friends.
2. Mom is busier while the teen has more free time. Mom is already busy, but during the holidays her responsibilities double with the end of the year work deadlines, shopping, decorating, cooking, and managing the extra demands of everyone in the family. The bottom line, this is a very stressful time of year for mom.
In contrast, teens have lots of free time after their finals. She can actually be bored which causes her to be grumpy. It looks like the daughter should be able to help mom with her long list of to-do’s, but that’s not in her daughter’s plan. Add a defiant eye roll to the mix and it’s easy to see why mom loses it.
3. Moms do too much while teens expect too much. Moms frequently fall into the trap of making sure her family has everything they need for the holidays, but often to the exclusion of herself. In contrast, the teenage girl has a hefty sense of entitlement and thinks Santa has lots of discretionary income evidenced by her Christmas list.
Once the teenage girl gets through the stress of finals, she is ready to PARTY and pushes the curfew, and expects to hang out with her friends whenever she likes. Helping mom is definitely not on her ‘fun’ agenda.
The good news is that you can dial down the holiday drama but you need more than hope to put the ‘wonderful’ back in this time of year. You need a strategy.
4 Ways to Put the ‘Wonderful’ Back into the Holidays
1. Set realistic expectations.
This has been a super hard year. It’s time to dial down the expectations.
The holidays are not going to be 24 hours of bliss. Something is bound to go askew with someone in your family, especially with your teenage daughter who is hard-wired for drama. Circumstances happen like your daughter’s boyfriend dumps her or she discovers on Instagram that she wasn’t invited to her friend’s slumber party.
However even this year you can have moments of ‘wonderful’ every single day, just by being present to your family and literally counting your blessings. ‘Wonderful’ happens in the small, ordinary interactions like hanging out on the sofa watching a movie together. Hold on to these moments and let the disappointments go.
2. Get clear beforehand.
Prepare yourself. Anticipate the stressful times with your teen, like during finals. This helps you not take things personally. Even if she is cranky you can decide beforehand to be calm in that situation and not react.
Be clear with your teen about the holidays. Your daughter is clear about what she wants to do over the break. If you are in a holiday brain fog, she will push and argue with you to get her way. Stay a couple of steps ahead of her. Be clear about how much money you’re willing to spend on gifts and what your expectations and boundaries are. After you are clear, make sure you communicate this to your daughter before the holidays begin.
3. Create a holiday intention.
Intentions get to the heart of the holiday. They go deeper than all the sparkle and bling. They remind you of what you really want and what matters most.
To create an intention, ask yourself this question. What are my priorities over the break? If your answer is to “enjoy your family,” your holiday intention is “I intend to enjoy my family during the holidays.” Now ask yourself, “How can I enjoy my family during the holidays, and what needs to change for that to happen?”
Sometimes the answer is simple like saying no to one holiday party to allow for more downtime with your family.
4. Be kind to yourself.
Again this year be extra kind to yourself.
Being kind to yourself is not selfish; it decreases your stress and allows you to enjoy the holidays. Ask yourself, “How can I be kind to myself this Holiday season?” Often being kind to yourself means de-stressing your life. Maybe you can let go of sending out Christmas cards this year, or it could be simplifying your meals or decorations.
It’s important that you enjoy the holidays too! What needs to change for you to enjoy this holiday season? You can with realistic expectations, staying clear, creating your holiday intention, and being kind to yourself.