Handling Holiday Havoc: Juggling Family Commitments with Your Spouse
It's that time of year again. Our thoughts have turned to cookie making, eggnog drinking, gift buying and giving, and party, after party, after party. But amongst all the festivities that come with the holidays there's also that one nagging question that anyone that's part of a couple will have to answer:
Where are we Spending the Holidays?
For a couple with family on both sides, this can be a real challenge. If everyone is in the same town, it's not as difficult to manage seeing everyone that wants to see you and who you want to see. But if any travel is involved, then things can get confusing and complicated and people might get their feelings hurt. This is why it’s a good idea to plan these things well in advance so everyone knows what's going on and no one is suddenly disappointed.
For new couples, it can be difficult because this is one of your first holidays together. If you're having trouble deciding which side of the family is going to get the visit, then one suggestion is to literally put the holidays in a hat and pick. Maybe the hat says that you’ll visit his family for Thanksgiving and her family for Christmas, or his family for Christmas and her family for New Year’s. Either way, you need a fair way to choose so that no one feels slighted. You can blame it on the hat and promise you’ll do the reverse next year. This method also works if you’re swamped with holiday invitations, all of which have an RSVP attached.
And Baby Makes Three
For a family with a new addition, it gets even more complicated because all the grandparents will want to be a part of baby's first Christmas and all Christmases going forward. The only fair way to choose which set of parents see the baby if traveling is involved is again pull the name out of the hat, draw straws or use some other method so that favoritism can't come into play.
There may still be some disappointment and hard feelings, but if that’s the case, that’s on your parents, not on you. You found a fair way to decide where to go. If affordability is an issue, the trip that won’t drain your bank account could also be the winner. Saving the more expensive trip for the next year, gives you a year to get the money together to make the trip.
Speaking of money, if one set of parents has helped out financially more than the other, that set of parents may feel they have a right to call first dibs on visits. If at all possible, you need to inform them that although you both appreciate the financial assistance, the other set of parents has just as much of a right to see everyone as they do.
All Are Welcome Here
There's also another option: create your own traditions and make them come to you. You are entitled to spend the holidays together, just the two of you. There’s also nothing wrong with you wanting to create your own traditions – after all, your parents and grandparents did it, right? It can also be complicated, expensive, time consuming and stressful to pack up an entire family for a holiday visit.
It was one thing when it was just the two of you and all it took was packing a bag or two, jumping on the plane and that was it. Once you add a child into the mix you've added 6 bags and another whole person’s emotions to deal with. So if it's possible, have both or at least one set of parents come to you, this will cut down on the amount of travel you’d have to do (not to mention baggage check fees). Your child won’t feel like a stranger in a strange land (because even at Grandma's house, it’s still not home) and everyone will still get to see everyone.
The holidays are a special time meant to be spent with family and friends. However, making it stressful by trying to decide where you’re going to spend the holidays defeats the purpose. Figure out a way to make a fair decision as to where to go each year and do it early.
And by early, we mean the day after the wedding and or the day after you bring the baby home. Seriously, you can’t address this soon enough. Mark our words, someone’s mother will have already made plans, so you want to be clear on what you want to do as soon as humanly possible. If you do this and get everyone on the same page right up front, you’ll never have to worry about the stress of where to go again. The stress will be back where it’s supposed to be – how to re-gift the fruitcake.