How to Manage Your Difficult Family (and In-Laws) at Christmas

Does entertaining family this festive season fill you with joy or dread?  Or a mixture of the two?  Do you enjoy the arrival and general joy but then turn to despair a few hours in when the in-laws expect your children to be seen and not heard and your aunt is asking for her 17th cup of tea?  Here's how to manage your difficult extended family, and the in-laws, with grace this Christmas.

Families can be a wonderful blessing, or they can be a major pain over Christmas.  Quite honestly, they can often be both at the same time!  The stress of the festive season, combined with the fact that we may well see more of each other in a few days than during the rest of the year put together, can bring any tensions and arguments to boiling point.

Here are our tips for dealing with relatives during the holiday season.

Be Patient And Kind

'Tis the season to be patient and kind.  Make this your motto and you’ll enjoy a much more peaceful and relaxed holiday season this year.  Remind yourself of this when things get hectic and stressful around Christmas.  Avoid alcohol if you can as it will help you keep a clear head while you need to.  You can always have a drink later.

I find that the simpler I keep things over Christmas, the easier it is to stay patient and kind.  When we have too much on our plate, we get stressed out and irritable.  I don’t have to tell you that this leads to a short temper that may cause you to say something you regret later.

It sounds horridly morbid, but remembering that you may not have that many more Christmases with elderly people can help you to feel a bit more kindly and indulgent too!

Walk Away If You Need To

Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away.  If a situation is stressing you out, or spiraling out of control, get yourself out of there.  Recognise feelings of stress and overwhelm and take yourself off for a breather.  Walk the dog, find an errand to run, or simply disappear to the bathroom for an extended 'loo break' with a book or magazine.  (Avoid social media at all costs, it won't help!)

Go off and take a breather then come back when you can get back to being patient and kind again.  Sometimes just going into a different room for a few minutes or taking a short walk outside will do the trick.

At other times, you just need to leave before you get into an argument with a family member, and that’s OK.  There are times when you’re better off getting out of there.  If it’s the only thing that will make it possible for you or the people you care about to enjoy their Christmas, you do what you have to do.

Postpone Arguments When Possible

Remember that Christmas does only come around once a year.  Bite your tongue if you need to and avoid arguments and fights.  You don’t have to give in, or bend over backwards for family members you don’t get along with.  Think of it more as postponing the argument until after the holidays.

Enjoy the time with your loved ones… even the ones who are a little more challenging to love than others.  Make some topics, such as politics off-limits, and if they do start up find something pressing that you must do elsewhere.  A sharp exit should nip the discussion in the bud sharpish!

One last thing to keep in mind when you’re struggling with squabbles and fights around the holidays. This is a special time of the year and something you can’t get back.  Try to put bad feelings aside and celebrate this special time with your family, however challenging they can be at times!

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