Navigating Family Relationships at Christmas

Christmas is a time for family… but for many of us that doesn’t come without challenges. We’ve got tips to help you keep the peace (and keep your sanity).

From blended families to step families, and adoption to in-laws the term ‘family’ can have many meanings these days. Trying to accommodate all of our relationships at what is a busy and stressful time of the year can be difficult, especially on top of the pressure to have the ‘perfect’ day.

No matter your status with your bloodline, keeping your sanity (and relationships) intact should be top priority. Here’s what a relationship expert has to say about it, so you can have your pavlova and eat it too. 

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Be patient 

Relationship expert Dr Nikki Goldstein says this is the number one rule at Christmas.

“Remember that people will be feeling the same as you are,” she says. “Try to keep your emotions in check and avoid making any contentious comments.”

Communicate in advance

Between Christmas parties, end of year school and work engagements, buying gifts and organising a menu, stress is running high and it can be all too easy to snap.

“Communicate ahead of time,” suggests Dr Goldstein. “If you’ve learnt anything from previous years, it’s that you know your family’s trigger points, so it’s useful to have that conversation in advance so it doesn’t happen again.”

Delegate

Other people’s strengths may be different to yours, and it’s a great way to work together. If you’re not a great turkey selector, delegate that job and do what you do well instead of getting frazzled trying to do it all.

There’s something lovely about coming together and all ‘chipping in’ – so accept help if it’s offered and ask if it’s not – especially if you’re hosting.

Speaking of coming together and chipping in, have you ever considered volunteering? The Smith Family is accepting gift vouchers for children and families in need this festive season with the aim of raising $3.8 million by the end of December. Or what about finally cleaning out your closet? St Vinnie’s is also looking for donations of clothing this Christmas to help those in need.

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Attention and affection

We all love to feel loved, and Dr Goldstein says at Christmas it’s even more important to show those you care about some affection.

“The most important gift you can give is a little attention and affection,” she says.

Research shows that giving your loved ones’ affirmation, consistently, can help them maintain a positive self-view and when things get stressful or tough, they’re likely to meet the situation with positive self-worth because you’ve encouraged them along the way.

So let your family know that they’re doing a great job of organising the festivities, or even just say ‘I love you’. “It goes a long way.” says Dr Goldstein.

 

The best cure of all?

Sometimes you just need some time out from the crazy.

If you’re in Melbourne, give yourself and your family a break with a package at Crown Metropol and live the resort life for a night with accommodation in a Luxe King or Luxe Twin room. The kids even receive a few goodies to take home.

Remember, you don’t have to be full zen in order to make it through Christmas, but with these tricks, you’ll be able to get through the holiday season and into the new year feeling (relatively) stress-free.