We wait all year for the holidays: We love how the pace slows down and how work slips into the background. Families make it a priority to get together. But while ‘​tis the season to be jolly,​ for many people all this intensive family time can be all too complicated. It’s often the in-laws and the extended family that have flown in, who get up in your grill. But in far simpler ways, it can also be incredibly intense to spend so much time with your kids. As much as you love them, you need a holiday too​,​ so we have put together these six tips to deal with anyone and everyone who threatens your downtime:

1. Boundaries, boundaries and more boundaries

During holiday time, there is a lot of pressure to be together for every waking minute​ – maki​ng the holiday period really intense. So don’t be afraid to plan ahead and say ‘no’ to every other gathering you’re invited too. Set aside some quiet time for your immediate so you don’t have to be on your best social behaviour at all times. If you plan ahead and give fair warning, it’s perfectly acceptable to excuse yourself. Make sure you stick to this though so that insistent family members understand that you mean business.

2. Take it with a pinch of salt

Intense togetherness and a hint of alcohol can make even the most jovial of gatherings tense. If things get heated, take a breather and do what you can to brush it off. If all else fails, proceed to point 3.

3. Find someone to talk to

Often holiday periods mean that the friends you choose are scattered around the world with their own families, leaving you alone with the family you were born into. Fun as that is, it ​can​ feel lonely if you don’t have your be​sties ​close on hand. So make a pre-holiday pact that ​2​ x ​missed calls​ means “p​ hone me back immediately!​” so that you can slip out of the celebrations for a re-group, and get some Q.T. with someone who loves you best of all.

4. Don’t have so much champagne

It may feel like having a glass of bubbly in your hand is the only way to get through all the holiday shenanigans. But when it comes to alcohol you definitely ​can​ have too much of a good thing. Drinking lowers inhibitions and can make people aggressive. Leading to topics of conversation that are often off-limits. It’s not worth the drama. So keep your water intake high and watch those stress levels fall.

5. List reasons to be grateful

A gratitude journal may be your best friend this holiday season. In fact​,​ it doesn’t have to be a fancy book, it can simply be a note page on your phone. Every day, find five

things that you’re grateful for: That good morning hug from your little cutie, the delicious food on the table, the coziness of your home. Sometimes it really is the little things that can act as stepping stones through the holidays.

6. Have fun

This seems like it goes without saying, but the holidays aren’t just for your kids to enjoy. You should get in on that action as well. What are the things you love to do? If “get a massage” is on that list, take advantage of the tides of family (a.k.a. babysitters) around you and steal an hour (or three) for yourself at the spa. If you love reading, drop the kids off at a friend and get up close and personal with those pages and a coffee at a quiet coffee shop. You deserve some time to settle all that chatter in your mind, so schedule it in, alongside all the social admin.

The bottom line

These strategies are really about focussing on your own behaviour, instead of your family’s. At the end of the day, the only person you can control over this period, is yourself. So mama, if you want to avoid all that drama, try these tips and they might just make all the difference to surviving the holiday season. Happy holidays!

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