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November 20, 2023

Setting Boundaries During the Holidays

There are so many expectations on our time and energy during the holiday season:

Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Holiday lights, Breakfast with Santa, Religious Celebrations, Christmas with the extended family, Christmas with the In-Laws, Christmas with immediate family, Christmas morning traditions, New Years Eve………

Not to mention the preparation and organization for these events:

Menus, delegations, cleaning the house before decorating, keeping up with everyday tasks, missed naptimes and late bedtimes, finding the perfect gifts for everyone, moving the elf, creating magical memories, Santa visits………

It’s a lot of pressure and takes the enjoyment out of what was meant to be a time for connection and celebration.

Let’s start with some basics about boundaries:

  1. The purpose of a boundary is to create safety in a relationship through clear expectations
  2. Boundaries can be flexible and shift as the relationship grows and changes
  3. You are not responsible for how others react to your boundaries

Some examples of boundaries we may set around the holidays:

“We are not going to be able to come until after naptime.”

“I’m feeling really stressed by my to-do list, I need help planning the holidays. Could you take care of getting gifts for your family?”

“We appreciate you including us in your holiday plans but this year we are starting a new tradition.”

“Thank you for your concern about my child. However, please don’t comment on their eating habits.”

“Unfortunately, our calendar is pretty full that weekend. We are open the next Saturday.”

It can be so difficult to set boundaries during the holiday season. Those expectations and traditions weigh heavy on our mind. We think about how others may react if we go against the norms or set firm boundaries.

The truth is, we cannot control how others react to our boundaries. We can set them as politely as possible. Remembering that boundaries are a way to create a more positive relationship with someone. We can also be open to compromise and shifting our boundaries, when we are comfortable doing so.

Maybe we would rather not travel to see family for any of the holidays, but we understand it’s important to them. So, we set the boundary that we will only travel out of town for one of the holidays.

When we first start setting boundaries, it can be uncomfortable. Clear communication about our expectations can help others understand why the boundary has been set. You do not have to explain a boundary but it can help foster a trusting relationship when you do. Sometimes, when we explain the boundary, our wants and needs become clearer and we are better able to hold that boundary with others.

If you aren’t sure how to set boundaries, or even what you really want your boundaries to be, reach out! I’m here to help!