November and December mark a high point for holiday visits with family. Grandparents will travel to adult children’s homes or adult children will travel to parents’ homes. Multiple generations will be under the same roof for at least a few days, perhaps even visiting in multiple homes over several days.
Insane? Maybe. Stressful? Certainly!
Housing, feeding, and entertaining two or three generations at the same time can wear out even the most hospitality-gifted host. It may even tempt you to swear off future visits. Don’t do that! Time is something we only have limited amounts of and once it is gone, it cannot be replaced. Rather than stopping visits, consider using these tips to lower the stress level during holiday visits with family.
Holiday visits rarely turn out like television depicts, yet that’s the standard we set ourselves up for. Twinkling lights, softly falling snow, and the smell of baking wafting through the home magically appear. What’s not shown is the work that went into making it happen. Adjusting our expectations to a realistic level removes much of the stress. Keeping arrangements simple is more than OK!
Spending too much during the holidays happens with both adult children and grandparents. Long after the holidays are over, credit card bills remain and add to stress. Decide beforehand to spend only what you can afford, whether it is on gifts, meals, or travel. Set a budget and stick with it.
Couch sleeping may be great for an afternoon nap but trying to get a restful night’s sleep on one isn’t. If places to lay heads are in short supply, opt for a nearby motel. At the end of the day, everyone will be thankful.
Any guest adds to meal preparation and housekeeping; multiple generations visiting only multiplies the work. Every guest, except perhaps a toddler or the elderly, can handle assigned responsibilities, whether it is picking up toys or preparing breakfast. Don’t wait for volunteers. Create a list, make assignments, and post it in a central place.
Does planning and preparing the big dinner cause stress overload? Remember, the time together is what’s important. If cooking is what you dread, then skip the preparing part and either have it catered ahead of time, serve a simple meal, or dine at a restaurant. Memories can be made there, too! (Remember the Chinese restaurant scene in A Christmas Story?)
Different ages will have different interests and different internal time clocks. Children will get cranky. Older adults will tire out. Keep the schedule light on planned activities. Leave blocks of time for different groups to engage in activities of their choosing. Provide movies, puzzles, and games for impromptu gatherings. Enjoy the present.
Even if you are an extrovert, you’ll benefit from a break from the crowd. Don’t feel obligated to do everything with everyone. Give yourself permission to take a nap or a time out. Go for a walk when the walls start to close in.
Adult children may need to choose between staying at mom and her husband’s home or dad and his wife’s home. Dinner at both places may be planned at the same time. Choices must be made. Don’t take the choices personally. Be flexible and understanding. Sometimes the most memorable holidays are the ones that end up being the least traditional. After all, that is the goal of holiday visits with family–memorable time with your loved ones.
A holiday visit with family may lead to a discussion of long term care planning. Parkway Village sales consultants can provide information on the options. To reach a consultant, complete the form on this page or call 501-202-1600. You may also find the following blog posts helpful.
Six Signs Your Parent Needs Additional Help
Discussing Retirement Living with Your Parents
Sharing Plans to Move to a Senior Living Community