Thanksgiving is just around the corner followed closely by all of the celebrations that December and the new year bring. This year my family and I will be spending Thanksgiving with my sister and her in-laws and also our first ever Christmas in North Carolina. Thanksgiving will be similar to last year but Christmas will be the first time ever that we aren't traveling to be with family or having family travel to be with us. I am a bit apprehensive about being able to create that special Christmas buzz that comes with the anticipation of visiting with others and opening presents with lots of people. So I am going to enlist the help of my family to make sure that the season lives up to all of our expectations.
The key to really being able to enjoy every aspect of the holiday season is planning in what we call the No Problem Space. When it comes to the holiday season this means planning before the holidays arrive. In the No Problem Space everyone is calm and relaxed and in the right frame of mind to consider all of the situations you might find yourself in. Just imagine the difference of doing this with your family around the kitchen table versus trying to manage behavior and expectations while stuck in an airport, on your way to visit family for Thanksgiving, in front a crowd of weary travelers and you get the idea.
Teachers use the No Problem Space before any field trip to prepare the kids for what behavior is expected, what will be different, what the kids can expect to see and do for example, to ensure that trips go as smoothly as possible. As parents we can do the same so that we can enjoy every aspect of our holidays. Take a moment as you read this to ask yourself the following questions about the upcoming season. Then schedule in some time to go over these or others that you identify with your family and see what contributions they have to make to help make this holiday season the best yet.
- What will be different in our day to day routine during the holidays?
- Will we be traveling to see family or friends? How will we travel? What will be fun about traveling? What will be frustrating about traveling? How can we best be prepared for traveling? Will we change time zones? Will we be staying in new and different places? How can we best prepare for what will be different?
- Will we be staying with family or friends over the holidays? Do our family/friends have different routines/rules than we have as a family? How can we make our visit with family/friends as enjoyable as possible? What is important to consider when you are a house guest?
- Will we be seeing family/friends you haven't seen for a while? What can we expect that to feel like? What will help those reunions to go as smoothly as possible?
- Will we be attending any parties together as a family? Will there be more formal situations to attend such as church or school events? How can everyone get the most from these events? Will we need to book a babysitter more often than normal?
- What will make the holiday season and time off school/work most enjoyable for each member of the family?
- Do you have any goals for what you would like to achieve over the holiday season and time off during this period?
- Will we have some time apart during the holidays? How can we best prepare for this? How will we stay in touch and check in? Do you have any concerns about time apart during the holidays?
- What are your favorite aspects of the holidays? What don't you enjoy about the holidays?
- When we look back on the holiday season what would we like to be able to say about the time we had together as a family?
Add to the list for your specific family and enjoy finding out what your family has to contribute to help make the upcoming holiday season the best ever!