Tips to Navigate the Holiday Season with your In-Laws

It’s the holidays, and your in-laws are here to stay, whether you like them or not. Even if you adore someone, it’s possible they’ll irritate you when you’re in close proximity. And if you despise them, you don’t have to be miserable for the duration of your visit. Yes, it’s true. Here’s a rundown of how to make it through the time spent together without losing your mind or your family.

Your plans don’t always need to be at home

With your in-laws in tow, plan a delightful family outing for the kids. When you’re focused on having fun with the kids, it’s difficult to misbehave. Even better, hand the kids over to your in-laws and have them take some candid images of them that you can print, frame, and send home as a present.

Stay Diplomatic

You’re not going to change their family’s behaviour by whining or treating them badly, no matter how much your partner’s parents irritate you around the holidays. Try to be compassionate and patient with your in-laws, just as you would with your children when they’re having a meltdown. When it comes to resolving problems with their parents, let your spouse do the heavy lifting.

Plan a Surprise Outing

If your in-laws are visiting from out of town (or you are visiting them), surprise them with museum tickets or restaurant reservations so you can spend some time apart. It’ll be money well spent, and your in-laws will appreciate your kindness.

You don’t need to do it alone

Plan a buddy system with your partner. Recognize the subtle indicators that your parents or their parents are reaching the end of their patience, and help each other out as needed. Make up excuses to run to the store for diapers, go for a walk, or whatever else you can think of to get one or both of you out of the scenario and away from the heat.

Allow for time to bond

​​If you regard your in-laws’ holiday visit as an opportunity for them to bond with your children, you and your partner may feel less stressed. Allow Grandma and Grandpa to join in nighttime routines, breakfast preparation with the kids, or whatever else they feel comfortable doing to spend quality time together. If you truly believe it is required, you may supervise, but do not hover. Allow them some breathing room.

Let Them Pitch In

Is your mother-in-law constantly crowding you in the kitchen because she wants to assist you? Allow her to do her thing. Give her a cutting board that’s a comfortable distance away from you so she can chop, slice, and dice. You’ll reclaim your own space and she’ll feel helpful.

Prioritize Self Care

There’s no shame in taking care of yourself during the holidays (or any time of year). Make every effort to have a relaxing holiday and avoid becoming frazzled. So be it if it means giving up cooking and hiring a caterer or having your mother-in-law take over your kitchen. Take a few moments away from everyone to spend time with your children. If that’s all you can manage, take a long shower to give yourself some alone time. However, make sure you look after yourself.

Get enough sleep

Even individuals you care about might become irritating after a while. Rather than staying up late because your father-in-law enjoys watching “Law & Order” reruns after the kids have gone to bed, say goodnight, excuse yourself, and go to bed early. Make it a habit to do it from the first night and you’ll be able to do it for the duration of your visit without appearing disrespectful. If you need an excuse, you can blame it on the kids. Going to bed early may also provide your partner with some alone time with their parents, which they will appreciate, while also providing you with some quiet time. Win-win.

Keep the Kids your Priority

Kids pick up on tension, so do your best to provide them with as much cuddling and fun as you can. Don’t cut off your in-laws (or your own parents) for the holidays if they’re excellent grandparents. Your children did not select for their parents and grandparents to not get along, despite the fact that you may not get along with them.

Pick your Battles

During a stressful Christmas visit, being on the same team as your spouse is crucial. Choose your battles wisely, focusing on the most critical concerns while ignoring the minor ones. When you’re already on high alert, it’s not worth fighting or stressing with your parents.

Let your Mother-In-Law have her moment

Check out this situation to see if it sounds familiar: During her stay, your mother-in-law seems to suffocate your wife and children. Guess what? Allow her to do so. The other 364 days of the year, you get them. She doesn’t have many opportunities to spoil her daughter and grandchildren, so let her take advantage of them. It’s perfectly harmless unless the kids complain about it.

Set Reasonable Expectations

Despite your best efforts, your in-laws will not always maintain their half of the agreement, no matter how much you try to keep your cool and be gracious. If you know your father-in-law will bring up politics at the dinner table, take a seat at the kids’ table under the premise of wanting them to feel involved and not isolated from the rest of the adults. You and your children will have a better time without the adult comments.

Prepare some answers for tough questions

If you’re continually being asked when you’re going to have another kid, why you’re having another drink, or other intrusive questions about your personal life, plan ahead of time what you’ll respond when these uncomfortable or inappropriate topics arise. Having a scripted yet courteous response will keep the peace and prevent you from being agitated. Make sure your partner is prepared to assist you.

Don’t feel guilty for needing alone time

If your mother-in-law is a chatty Kathy and your father-in-law is always putting his foot in his mouth, organize a family movie night to keep everyone quiet. If you’re lucky, the kids will be entertained, someone will fall asleep early, and no one will be attempting to converse. It’s deceptive, but it works!

Create a Safe Word

It may seem silly, but set up a safe phrase with your partner ahead of time that signals when you’re upset or need a break from family. Agree on how you’ll act as a buffer for your partner whether they’re tired, frustrated, or just need a five-minute break.

Respect Family Traditions

It’s fine if your family does things one way and your partner’s family does them another way. If there’s anything in particular that worries you, discuss it with your spouse ahead of time; otherwise, just smile, be courteous, and participate. Even if you don’t put your tree up until December, if your father-in-law insists on the entire family going out and cutting down a Christmas tree together the day after Thanksgiving, roll with some of the punches. Create your own family traditions as well, so that everyone feels like they are getting to do something they enjoy over the holidays.

Take it Easy, be Patient

Instead of stewing in silence, speak out about what irritates you if your in-laws overstep their bounds, but give them the benefit of the doubt and attempt to recognize the good intentions at the base of their irritating conduct. If your in-laws didn’t care about your family, they wouldn’t spend the holidays with you. They may make mistakes from time to time, but it is never on purpose.

Relax

Even if you enjoy your in-laws, they might grate on your nerves at times. Don’t forget to take a few deep breaths. Most of the time, everyone is just trying to provide the family with a memorable experience. Although good intentions don’t always pan out, try not to get bent out of shape or lose your patience over minor issues.

The End Will Come

​​Focus on the light at the end of the tunnel if all else fails. Take each day as it comes, remembering that the visit is only temporary, and do your best to maintain the peace and patience, even if your mother-in-law’s pickiness drives you crazy. But don’t lose sight of the fact that you only have a certain amount of time together.

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