Avoiding holiday meltdowns

Thanksgiving caught us with our pants down – maybe not literally, but it was a couple days earlier on the calendar this year and then, YIKES – Black Friday!

Our stress meters are instantly fully engaged.

Black Friday has come to represent Warrior Mode for many of us. Shopping outlets incentivize us to suit up for battle – for a parking spot, entry into WalMart, the last Rocktopus, the shortest checkout line… and our dignity.

This leads right into the Holiday Home Prep itself – decorating, cooking, baking, cleaning… God help us if we also have to battle bad weather or a temperamental child as well.

This spirals down to accommodating others’ demands – our kid(s), our parents, our ex, his parents, the school… even our friends.

Don’t poke the bear

People are creatures of habit. Therefore we like to make things easy on ourselves by declaring a “tradition” that suits our fancy. It’s at this point we may need to draw the line.

When I was younger with new hubby and new child, I quickly put the breaks on the expectation that we were supposed to accommodate multiple traditions in the same day (or even week). We just doubled the size of our extended families and with that, expectations of us. I quickly got over the need to keep things within specific time frames so we could drive dozens of miles throughout the holidays to appease the comfort of others. Don’t get stuck in that trap. You’ll learn to HATE the holidays.

If one or more of your family members isn’t understanding in this regard, then don’t ask them what the plan is – tell them where you’ll be and when. Put it back on them. Nicely, of course. But, firmly. You’re Momma Bear now.

Kids can be very manipulative

Many of us are single parents. With that comes an innate guilt that we carry with us every day. We feel that we’re responsible for robbing our child of the storybook childhood that we dreamed of. We feel that their self-esteem and happiness are constantly on the line with our every decision and action.

That’s partially true. We definitely wield the power to make our children suffer. The more difficult task is to see to it that they’re happy and well-adjusted. I didn’t grow up in a happy and well-adjusted home. It could’ve been worse, but my parents “stayed together for the kids” and divorced AFTER we left the roost – I got robbed!

I recognized that I was heading down that same road with my daughter. Doesn’t matter where you want to assess the blame (plenty to go around), but we had to split up for our own well being as well as our daughter’s.

My point is, as the holidays would come around, I noticed quite a change in her behavior. There were lots of comments about what “Dad can’t afford for Christmas”. I learned that she would play that both ways.

I heard of the peer pressure of needing the latest clothes, phone, shoes and iPad. And I got the guilt trip over how mean I was compared to her father.

IT’S ALL A PLOY, FOLKS! I made it through the majority of those years and I’d seen the damage, yes DAMAGE, that I created by allowing her to prey on my guilt. Our first responsibility is to raise a little person that can grow into a big person with the discipline to make it on their own. I’ve had to endure horrendous late-teen years as a result of giving in to her whims. Worse, she has had to endure the set back of real life providing the real lessons of hardship.

Do yourself, and your kid(s) a favor – leave them wanting for something. Also make them earn a few things along the way.

Don’t over indulge yourself either

The stress of the holidays leaves us susceptible to indulging in our own devices as well. Sure, have that heavenly-heavy holiday meal… but don’t hoard a week’s worth of leftovers as well.

Don’t lose track of a realistic budget. Happiness comes from nice experiences. Nice experiences come from love. Over extending ourselves financially leads to hardship and anxiety. Anxiety and love cannot coexist.

Final thoughts

We live in a time of complete distraction. When we’re told that we’re supposed to do something, whether it’s Black Friday, family traditions or satisfying our child’s every whim, we usually try to accommodate these things until the consequences are so painful that we then go in the opposite direction – bringing on it’s own set of consequences.

So, be thoughtful about how you’re going to spend your time, money and even calories. You and your family will benefit from it year ’round.

Happy holidays – whatever yours may be.

 


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