The holiday season is in full swing and with this time of year comes the company of friends and family, good food and tons of activities to join in on. This time of year is also accompanied by last-minute deadlines, budgeting obstacles, and often being around some dreaded family members. To anyone who absolutely loves being around every single person in their extended family for several days without a break, you are headed for sainthood. Most people have a family member or two they could do without. Not surprisingly, in-laws often fall into this category. Not so much that they are absolutely unbearable, unlovable people, but that in-laws can be over critical, overwhelming, and a bit demanding. So here are some tips and tricks on conquering the art of dealing with the in-laws
1. Set Boundaries: Let your spouse know your limits when it comes to his or her family entering your space. We all know that pesky uncle who is constantly using other people’s toothbrushes, the grandma who drinks a little too much at Thanksgiving dinner and starts sharing family secrets, or the one cousin who never taught her brood of boys to put the seat down! Make it known the things you absolutely cannot tolerate this holiday (don’t get crazy), whether it be excess drinking, music till three am, or guests people using your personal bathroom. BONUS: Set aside a few minutes for yourself each day. Whether it be some quiet reading or a longer shower, it is important to set your boundaries by taking time to decompress from the chaos. You’ll thank yourself later.
2. Let it Go: In-laws are notorious for being passive aggressive; each family has its own form of backhanded communication. Maybe your mother in law keeps giving unwanted parenting tips or your father in law has an opinion about his grandson playing the flute in the school band. If you can, be the bigger person and let these things go. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” will become more noticeable as your in-laws grow older. Accept that these people will probably never change, you can’t depend on them changing, and they are still related to your loved one. Surely your mother in law refusing to eat anything with butter or oil in it is something everyone can put up with for just a few days. Keep in mind, you have your spouse to yourself 360 other days of the year and don’t have to deal with their family so five days of an in-law nightmare is surely doable. Getting irritated will only make the situation worse, so let it go.
3. Relinquish Control: Having people be in your space can be overwhelming at best. Stressing out and trying to make the holiday perfect is wasted energy and you won’t get to enjoy the beautiful things about this time of year. If it’s your house and the family came together from the corners of the world to see you and your S/O, try feeling thankful for how far everyone has come. Focusing on how Grandma Joan is insisting on having green beans with cheese and mashed potatoes with no lumps are going to suck up all of your holiday spirits. Be determined not to let that happen! Not this year!
4. Kill Them with Kindness: We all know stories of in-laws trying to break up marriages, being too involved in their child’s and grandchildren’s lives, or even creating drama just because they are the in-laws! If all else fails this season, kill the negativity by refusing to feed into it. The most valuable answer to give someone attempting to stir up trouble is to just say OKAY. “Did you hear Johnny failed out of college” OKAY “Can we please make sure there’s coffee after every meal?” OKAY “Letting the kids stay up this late will stunt their growth you know” OKAY. Responding with the word okay is not passive, nor aggressive. It effectively acknowledges what someone else is saying without feeding into the energy behind their statement. Brace yourself for the holidays, bring your positive energy and your smile! It will be over soon so you might as well make the choice to enjoy it, even if your in-laws are needy, pesky, patronizing, overbearing or any other characteristic you find irritating. Keep in mind, they did give birth to the person you love the most in this world, so how bad could they really be?