Holiday family stress? Consider doing your own thing.

Being 1,000 miles away from family during the holidays is both a blessing and a curse. The holidays are already a time of heightened emotions. Adding family members to the equation can be complicated.

Kids thrive on routine and predictability, and the reality of it is when Nana and Papa are in town … sometimes you get thrown off schedule. Bedtime is later, you sleep in, you watch more cartoons, and you eat more ice cream. Sometimes this comes at a price – like sleeplessness, tummy aches, and tantrums. Anxiety levels are heightened, voices rise, and stress increases.

10402605_781772474685_3749756054242140279_nConsider doing your own thing during this season to help tackle the holiday family stress.

Families are complicated, and sometimes the holidays are a time for unpacking old baggage and taking old skeletons out of the closet. It’s not that we don’t love our families, it’s that we need to tune in to our own psychological and physical needs. And sometimes those visits do more harm than good during the holidays.

Instead of flying cross-country on December 24th or driving 20 hours nonstop, choose to do your own thing. Consider visiting your family on the off-season like during the spring or summer months. Reconciling family baggage is hard. Deciding not to do the holidays with family may bring on guilt, anxiety, sadness, or fear. And that’s okay.

Check in with yourself and the needs of your family. After all, the holidays should be a time to celebrate. If this isn’t the case with your family, consider doing something about it. Choose to celebrate another time with your family. Instead of spending $600 a person to fly during the holidays, decide to meet up somewhere during the kids’ spring break or summer vacation. Forget the gifts. Forget the food. Just spend time together.

So if family holidays are stressful for you, consider staying home and making your own traditions.

You can develop new holiday traditions. Like packing a picnic and going to the beach instead of having an elaborate Christmas dinner. Or volunteering at a local soup kitchen. Or visiting a new church. Or inviting friends or neighbors over for coffee and dessert. Being physically distanced from family gives you a chance to get creative and develop new ways to celebrate.

And, technology is an amazing thing. If you are missing your family, with the click of a button, we can connect with folks across the country.

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Erica is a New England native who moved to Houston with her family in June 2014. She and her wife Christina live in Pearland with their daughter Quinn {Dec 2013}, dog Charley, and two cats Phoebe and Oliver. Erica is an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston where she teaches classes on strategic communication and social media. When Erica isn’t busy teaching, researching, or being a mom, she enjoys getting her yoga on, creating culinary delights, scoring deals shopping online, and exploring Texas with her girls.


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