Tis The Season...To Be Triggered
I LOVE the Holidays, always have, *hopefully* always will.
But as with anything we love also comes things we... love less.
The Holidays can come with stressors and spending lots of time with friends and family can sometimes be triggering if we don't communicate our boundaries and what topics we'd prefer not to discuss.
Here are some ways you can aim to implement boundaries around the Holidays:
Unusable Gifts Boundaries
We all know that Aunt or Grandparent who “means well,” but always gets you or your kids an influx of gifts you don’t need or want. I have a friend who lives in a small apartment without any yard access and her well-meaning mother-in-law got my friend’s daughter a GIANT outdoor use toy. The MIL did acknowledge that she knew her DIL didn’t currently have room for it now but thought she could save it for when she did. Not only is this highlighting an undertone of “well you can use this when you FINALLY move into a house,” but her granddaughter can’t even use the toy right now. My friend graciously thanked her but firmly stated that unfortunately this toy didn’t fit into her current lifestyle. Holding onto stuff for a future “maybe/what if/when” situation is a surefire way to create clutter. Hold your boundary that you’re only bringing items into your home that work for your life and needs right now, in this moment.
TOO MANY Gifts Boundaries
Do you have a relative or friend in your life who always brings you or your kids a gift, no matter if it’s an actual occasion or not? Again, they may just be trying to be generous but if your kids get a toy everyyy time they see this person, you’ll run into issues. Your kids will grow accustomed to expecting a gift every time they see them and will start to associate them with gifts instead of quality time. And this will be a huge strain on keeping your clutter at bay. You may be thinking, “But I don’t want to hurt their feelings…” I would counter that by saying, if you were raising your child as a vegetarian and someone served them steak, wouldn’t you easily object and tell them it’s against your values without fear of hurting their feelings? I hold what comes into my house by this same standard and I’m vigilant about the fact that I’m in charge of what I want to be responsible for in my life & home.
If we’re lucky enough, we have lots of different people who want to spend time with us and our families around the Holidays. This can lead to a lot of running around and splitting time to accommodate everyone else’s needs and feelings. But what about what’s best for your family? As an example, my relatives were running into this issue of traveling to multiple places on Thanksgiving so we simply started celebrating on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This way, everyone can settle in and enjoy their time with all their offshoots of family rather than run around all day which isn’t ultimately enjoyable for anyone.
Have an oversharing cousin? Or a prying Aunt? Or an inappropriate Uncle? If someone asks you something you don’t wish to discuss or starts oversharing on a topic that’s none of your business, try communicating this with them by using “I statements” to communicate how you feel rather than what they’re “doing wrong”:
“I feel angry when you speak to me like that. If you continue to yell at me, I’ll have to walk away.”
“I need some space right now.”
“I love spending time with you but I would prefer not to talk about politics as it stresses me out.”
“My partner and I know what’s best for our kids.”
“That’s a decision that my wife and I will come to together and we don’t want to discuss it in a group setting.”
What are some other ways you protect your energy around the Holidays or all year long?