In a few days we leave to go “home”! :)

It started out feeling like a fun adventure. Now it sounds like sheer craziness…

A 30-hour train ride to get to LA for Christmas, then a plane flight to Texas for New Year’s and another flight to get home. Visiting family on both sides for nearly 2 weeks.

I’m already anticipating that things are not going to be super easy.

Travel. Being with extended family. Lack of sleep. Changes in routine. Not easy access to our normal coping strategies. Lots of teenagers. Uncomfortable beds. No privacy. Cousins that may or may not want to hang out together. In-laws. And a bunch of conversation topics that are best avoided entirely…

And all the while I–and everyone else too–have high expectations for peace, harmony, and family happiness…

Because it’s Christmas and New Year’s…

…and we don’t see each other that often.

Do you have the same concerns for the holidays, and your family?

If so, here’s what I’m doing to stay grounded:

1. Take a pause

Before I say something that I might regret later, I’ll pause. I’ll check in with myself. What am I feeling? What do I need? What does this other person need? How are they feeling? I can ask to take a break. I can come back to the conversation later. I have choices.

2. Ask for help (before I get overwhelmed)

Asking for help can feel vulnerable, but if I don’t ask I get resentful, overwhelmed, or snarky. As soon as I see the potential for getting overwhelmed, I’m going to reach out to someone to help, or to just to listen.

3. Set the bar low

Family time won’t be very fun if I’m stressed out trying to make everything perfect. Kids may not even remember the gifts, the fancy food, the Pinterest perfect decorations… What they DO remember are: the funny things that happen, the goofs, the games, the unstructured hours. Kids treasure the time together. I’m setting the bar “low” for decorations. Special family time doesn’t have to be fancy.

4. Have a back up plan

If something gets hard. I have Plan B: a mommy friend on back-up, someone I can send a text message to anytime, day or night. She might not answer right away. That’s okay. She doesn’t even have to offer advice. She’s just there to listen. I also have Plan C: my journal. And Plan D: my inspirational books. I can get the help I need.

5. Make small moments into self care rituals

During busy times I might not get a long break, but I can get small ones. I can light a candle, watch the flame and see the smoke rise. I can drink a cup of tea and feel the warmth on my hands. I can go for a walk outside and breathe the fresh, crisp air. Inspired by Magdalena Garcia’s presentation during the Happily Family Conference, I know I can create a little ritual and care for myself anywhere. And Jason is planning to keep to his meditation practice, no matter how short.

Which one of these 5 strategies is your favorite? Or do you have a “different favorite” strategy to share with us?

Thank you and Happy New Year!

With Gratitude and the Happiest of Holidays!

 

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