Plan ahead to reduce stress during the holidays

My, how the year has flown! As the holidays approach it seems like a good time to remind ourselves of a few tactics we can follow through on to make Thanksgiving and Christmas a special time for everyone, especially the children.

As we all know, holidays can be especially stressful due to frantic busy-ness, crowds, and long lines in stores. On top of all this many experience anxiety about potential family conflicts. All too often, despite our best intentions, there’s a blow-up and our children are right in the middle of it. Here are a pair of tips that I’ve shared in the past to help make your holiday go smoothly and be memorable in a positive way.

  1. Learn how to say no.

You can’t always do and be everything for everyone. We need to define what is essential and not allow others to decide for us. It may be unnatural for us to be assertive, but it is sometimes necessary for the sake of our sanity.

Determining what is important and goal-setting are elements of a successful career. The same holds true for navigating the minefield of a busy holiday season. Thoughtful planning, including finding time for yourself to re-charge your batteries, is all a part of getting through the holidays.

Saying no includes not overdoing it with drinking and partying. Nothing will put a bigger dent in your holiday enjoyment than a DUI.

  • When co-parenting, plan ahead.

I’ve observed that lack of planning is one of the primary causes of holiday conflict when co-parenting. To avoid butting heads over child custody matters, you need to think ahead. The time is now rather than at the last minute when you are both harried with holiday busy-ness.

Review your co-parenting agreements so you both have a clear understanding of what is expected. Sometimes one or both of you can imagine you remember what you agreed to three years ago. In the heat of the moment, when he or she fails to bring the children to grandma’s house on the time you expected, it may be because your ex had a different recollection of what had been agreed upon.

Good communication is always helpful in mitigating conflicts, but especially so with regards to preparing for the holidays. Review your agreements and make your plans accordingly.

And finally, do your best to maintain a sense of humor. Try not to take yourself too seriously. Psychologists have learned that there is truth to the ancient proverb, “A merry heart is good medicine.” Negative attitudes not only bring us down, they also do nothing to change our circumstances.

May your holidays be especially meaningful this year.

Contact experienced family law attorney Jessica L. Sterle at (218) 722-2655 to schedule a consultation to discuss divorce, child custody, parenting time and grandparent’s rights.