Navigating the Holidays with Family


Navigating the Holidays with Family | Columbia SC Moms BlogIf you’re anything like me then the moment that ring was slid onto your finger you began to envision and plan for the perfect wedding day. You daydreamed about the ins and outs of married life. The two of you joined homes, maybe you even bought a new one. You planned vacations and perhaps you even started making plans to grow your little family.

The one thing you may not have thought about during all your dreaming and planning was the fact that joining families included the combining of holidays. It can be incredibly stressful to navigate the holidays with two separate families, especially when your main goal is just to keep everyone happy. Oftentimes though we get so wrapped up in giving everyone else the perfect Christmas … that we let our own happiness fall to the wayside.

Merging families and figuring out how to split the time is hard, but don’t let the stress of it all keep you from enjoying YOUR holiday season too. Here are some tips for making it through the holidays!

Set Realistic Expectations

You can’t be in two places at once, plain and simple. So you have to decide what you can and can’t commit to. You are probably going to have to tell someone “no” at some point. Make these decisions early on, this will help with planning and will let family know upfront what to expect from you.

For me, this means not sacrificing my (or my family’s) happiness and peace. Enjoying time with my husband and our son is the most important thing to me. Rushing around and being stressed out will just make everyone miserable.

By being honest about what I’m willing to do (and not do) ahead of time I can figure out ways to compromise early on instead of waiting until it’s too late and someone’s feelings potentially getting hurt. Yes, the holidays will sometimes be stressful, but don’t add to it unnecessarily by stretching yourself (or your kids) beyond your own limits.

Don’t be Afraid to Start Your OWN Traditions

Maybe your spouse’s family spends every Christmas morning together making breakfast or maybe your family loves staying up late and watching Christmas movies on Christmas Eve. Those are wonderful traditions, but once you have a family it’s OK to start your own too.

Maybe you want to spend Christmas morning with just your partner and kiddos … sleeping in and enjoying a nice quiet breakfast. That is OK, I think it’s super important for nuclear families to have their own traditions too.

Just as you enjoy looking back on holiday memories and traditions with fondness, so will your kids. You might even be able to incorporate traditions from your childhood into your own little family.

You MAY Have to be the Hostess

The downside (depending on who you are) to changing things up may mean that in order to accommodate everyone YOU have to play hostess for an event. Luckily, I haven’t had to do that yet. Party planning is seriously not a talent of mine, but as our family grows and we begin our own traditions here at home I know that hosting events at our place may be in the near future.

If you’re hosting remember that the goal here is to keep from overextending yourself and taking away from your own happiness this season. So keep it simple where you can and don’t forget to ask for help!

Get Both Families Together

I can probably count on both hands the number of times my husband’s family and my family have all been together for special events … and none of them have been for holidays. It mostly boils down to location and the fact that everyone is so spread out.

If you’re hosting, this is a great opportunity to get everyone together. Plan a Secret Santa gift exchange or a Christmas Cookie Swap to get everyone involved in something fun together. Even if you aren’t up for hosting, maybe suggest it to the families. Someone might be willing to do the hosting once the idea is out there.

Spread the Love

Lastly, spread the love and attention you can give to each family. Be flexible, but don’t compromise the limits you set for yourself. If you have to say “no” to something, offer up an alternative time to see everyone and celebrate together. Maybe that means picking up some of the party planning duties or committing to spend New Years with family you missed at Christmas. 

The important thing to remember is that it’s a magical time of year filled with wonderful moments, but things will go wrong. Life will get crazy and there will be stress and frustration. You will have to bend, but don’t allow yourself to break. Saying “no” is healthy and perfectly OK … even at Christmas.

How do you navigate the holidays with family?

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Carey Shofner
Originally from Indiana, Carey moved to South Carolina in 2009. She and her husband, Brett, met during college at USC and now reside in Forest Acres. She is an elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom to their wonderful baby boy. After struggling with infertility for years, their son, Milo, joined their family in November of 2017 through the beautiful gift of adoption. Carey enjoys writing and crafting in her spare time and even has a small Etsy shop and personal blog, both named Simply Shofner. Coffee and cats are her love language and she's passionate about adoption, education and social justice issues. She would describe herself as your totally basic, semi-crunchy, hot mess mom who loves strolling the aisles of Target and play dates at Starbucks.


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