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If you struggle with major guilt and pressure from your family over the holidays, first off, join the club.  This quote is for you….

The holidays are really for children and aging parents, the rest of us in between just have to suffer.”

Ain’t it the truth?

I used to looovvveeee this time of year.  I loved the music, the food, the lights, the feeling of it all…. everything.

And don’t get me wrong, I still like the holidays, a lot.  But I can’t help but notice that the older we get, the more guilt, stress and anxiety the holidays can bring to the surface.

And it only gets more complicated when you finally find someone to become a “we” with.  Then, the burden of trying to make everyone’s family happy can put a huge dark cloud over the holiday season.

Ugh, I need a bottle of champagne right now even thinking about it.

So how do you deal with the guilt of letting your family down (no matter how hard you try not to) in order to develop a new holiday structure that works for you?

I talked to women in all kinds of situations.  From divorced parents, to families that live out of state, and even to couples that have to deal with family ties outside of the country.

Here are their best tips and insights on how to tackle this tricky time.

Here’s what’s worked, what hasn’t, and maybe even how you can learn to do whatever you want and apologize later.

 

SOMETIMES, YOU JUST HAVE TO PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN

If you’re a child of divorce, you’ve probably been playing the holiday guilt game for a while.

Having to decide which holidays to spend with each side the family is common grounds for you.

But whether you’re new to this game of emotional chess, or you’re a seasoned vet, we’ve probably all gotten an earful at some point or another from someone in our bloodline.

Subtle hints dropped such as it might be a grandparent’s last Christmas or Thanksgiving or that someone is flying in just for the occasion and you should really be around.

You’ve looked into ways of cloning yourself so you can be in two places at once, but so far, no such luck.

However one thing I’ve heard over and over is for sure, the holidays become more enjoyable when you start to put your foot down.

For those whose strategy has been to squeeze in multiple parties in one day, traveling all over town to try and make it everywhere, this message is for you!

It’s OK to finally decide it’s not worth it to try and be in a million places at once.

You never get to fully enjoy your time with one family because you’re too busy focusing on an exit strategy, and how you’re going to make it to the next event on time.

And plus, it’s always awkward having to go around and explain to everyone that you have to cut out early to make it to the next event.  It never goes over well, and every time we do this we wish we would have stepped out the back door and sent a group text instead.

Honestly, the extra stress and pressure isn’t worth it.  Decide what you want to do, be firm about it and make no apologies for wanting to actually enjoy your time off too!

 

IF YOU CAN’T MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY, TRY MAKING NO ONE HAPPY INSTEAD

My best friend once told me that the best thing she ever did one holiday season was to travel by herself.

For so long her family was pulling her in a million different directions and she was stretching herself thin to try and make it work.  She had finally reached her breaking point, and just said screw it.

So she booked a trip to Italy with her friends and just went for it.  She knew that even if her family was secretly pissed, at least they would know that it was nothing personal because she wasn’t spending time with anyone else’s family either.

This is what she says, changed the game.

By taking this risk she subtly sent a message to her family that it was her holiday too, and she also deserved to enjoy it the way she desired.

And ever since her euro trip, the guilt from her family has eased up significantly.  They now know that it’s not a given that she will be at their house, so they are grateful for any time they get to spend with her.

Genius.

The truth is, there are a ton of other people out there who also feel your pain when it comes to family obligations around the holiday.

And for the most part, there might always be a little bit of guilt associated with this time.

However, we have some control over how much guilt we allow ourselves to take on.  And once you realize that you can’t make everyone happy no matter how hard you try, life gets easier.

So don’t be afraid to put your foot down.  You’ll spend this holiday with one family, and another holiday with the other and it’s the best you can do so you don’t need to make any apologies for it!

Or if you’re really ready to shake things up, book a trip for yourself without family this upcoming holiday and do whatever you want to do.

Honestly, how freeing does that sound?

And finally, try and remember that at one point your parents probably went through the same thing as you.  They had to deal with juggling their time amongst their families as well.  So we can only hope they have a little more empathy than we realize.

I’d love to hear what’s worked for you and what hasn’t when it comes to dealing with guilt and obligations over the holidays!

Good luck everyone, let the holiday season commence!

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH FAMILY GUILT OVER THE HOLIDAYS