It’s no secret that the holidays can be stressful. Sure, there can be loads of relaxation with time off from work, but you’re likely filling that time off with shopping, cooking and juggling various demands of the entire family. Those who have to balance both aging parents and their own small children can face a special kind of holiday stress. Today, Donna Labermeier, author of The Healers, shares tips for those in the “sandwich generation”—the ones between the young and the old who are faced with keeping everyone together and happy! If you’re hosting young and old alike this holiday season (or any time of year for that matter) here are a few family holiday tips on keeping your sanity and keeping the peace.
3 Tips to Keeping the Family Happy During the Holidays
1. Be the waterfall. Think of yourself as the top of a waterfall. You are the hostess of the family gathering and the one everyone is looking to for direction in setting the tone for the day. So are you going to be frantic and overwhelmed or relaxed and comfortable? If you are not calm and centered, the older folks will become cranky and the children may start acting out. Your attitude affects their attitudes. They feel your energy spilling out over them. So slow down, take your time, and set a pace that allows you to enjoy the fact that your parent(s) are still here and can spend time with you and your children, and vice versa.
The best way to have a peaceful day is to stop caring. This doesn’t mean you stop caring about the people themselves and their highest good, it means that you stop caring and investing your time in the things that they do. If we focus too heavily on the things we don’t get back from the people we care about, all of our attention will be on issues of lack. Give to yourself by taking a break from caring about what other people do. Giving becomes not a depletion, but a circulation of prosperous energy that, as we enrich others, continually enriches us.
2. Stop seeking approval. Everything does NOT have to be perfect! It is no one else’s business to approve what we do and how we do it…including your parents. You are an adult with your own household. You are in charge! You are no longer a child. You are not your parents. You are your own true self. You are free to make your own choices and decisions. Seeking approval from them gets us into all kinds of trouble. We agree to do things we don’t want to do out of the fear that they may disapprove of us if we say, “No.” The joke is, they more than likely will never approve of a lot of things we do anyway (that we may not even realize)—and they’re too busy seeking their own approval from you! So don’t give your “power” away to your parents or your children or anyone else, for that matter. Remember that you are always in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.
Don’t think about the past. You cannot change it, but you can change its effect on the present. We may be clinging to childhood beliefs or experiences that are no longer relevant to our lives or our destinies. We may have old wounds, but we are not prisoners of our pasts or slaves of our memories. We are free at any time to discard those belief systems and behavior patterns that belong to another place and time.
3. Trust in yourself. Reserve the issue of trust for your relationship with yourself. Use your relationships with other people to teach you about love, honesty, growth, integrity and nonattachment. Trusting others is great in theory, but it’s almost impossible to put into practice. Why? Because most of the time we trust people only when they do exactly what we want them to do. When they act otherwise, we feel disappointed and think they can no longer be trusted. But true trust is not about relying on others to meet our expectations. True trust means learning to rely on ourselves instead, which will help us to accept others for who they are, not for who we want them to be.
Recognize who you are within. Be true to you above all others first and foremost. If we treat ourselves with kindness and compassion, then we will treat others that way, too. It is all very simple, yet very important.
A little hippity-dippity, but good tips nonetheless! Do holiday gatherings stress you out? Or do you let go and enjoy whatever comes, whether it’s bickering or everyone getting along beautifully? —Erin