Are you dreading that upcoming family gathering, with the nagging voices of your mom or partner echoing in your head? Fear not; it’s possible to navigate the potential tension, make meaningful connections, and enjoy yourself. Take a cue from the experts and follow these rules to ensure a smoother and more pleasant reunion.
Court the Mutineers
Address potential conflicts before they arise by reaching out to the troublemakers in advance. According to Dr. Roger Frame, a family conflict expert, a pre-event conversation can be beneficial. For instance, approach that challenging uncle and say, “Uncle Piet (insert your uncle’s name) I know we don’t often see eye to eye. How can we keep the peace for Dad?” Initiating this dialogue, even if it becomes challenging, can pave the way for a smoother event.
Arrive on Time
Make an effort to spend quality time with your hosts, but also arrive with a reason to slip out early. A simple excuse like “The kids need some sleep” can provide a graceful exit. As you make your departure, extend a helping hand, asking, “Need a hand with the food?” This not only shows courtesy but also allows you to leave on a positive note.
Build in Buffers
Create moments of respite amidst the family madness to keep yourself sane. Bond with the kids by engaging in games or enlist the help of your brother-in-law to tackle household tasks. This strategic approach allows you to step away from potential stressors and maintain a sense of balance.
Cut, Run, and Recover
Once the family gathering concludes, it’s natural to feel the need to vent. However, avoid dwelling on negative experiences, as it can be counterproductive and contribute to stress. Family conflict expert Dr. Roger Frame advises planning an activity, such as a walk, mini-golf, or a movie, to help you, your partner, and your kids unwind. This intentional post-gathering activity ensures a smoother transition from family time to personal time.