If you ignore the money worries, which are frankly caused by buying presents or stuff for people, then the next biggest cause for trouble at Christmas or other big family events and parties is PEOPLE!
So this months feature for Danny Smith from Radio Verulam‘s drive time show (92.6FM) was all about them and how to deal with the stress.
I love people, but Oh My do they know how to cause trouble when more than one of them gets together, in fact some of them love causing trouble!
So here are my seven top tips for avoiding arguments and break downs/ups during Christmas, family parties or any big special event. Anything from dealing with your family, the in-laws, your other half and over excited kids.
(I’ll pop the audio at the bottom as soon as I have it).
Tip 1- Hold your tongue and don’t get drunk!
I’m not being a spoil sport, but drink and stress don’t go well together. In fact neither does lots of sugar followed by a sugar low (check out my healthy eating for rubbish cooks for ideas to counteract that sugar buzz).
Take a breather, and get out for a walk. Just 10mins walking round the block can help you have patience for a few more hours. It’s pretty easy to come up with an excuse; say you are feeling odd, or have to deliver a card urgently, or need to buy more milk (hide the extra in the garage).
Remember to BREATHE and especially breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth in equal measures e.g. a count of 4 in and 4 out. The nose will calm you down and it’s important to balance the in and out breaths.
Tip 2 – If you do too much for people they will treat you like dirt and show no gratitude
This is a very ironic but massive rule to learn in life. There should always be a balance between how much you give and receive in return. If you do too much, then the people you did it for will subconsciously feel guilty and then resent you for being a martyr and doing too much. It pretty much always goes wrong and is one of the biggest causes for an argument.
Instead learn the art of delegation and get everyone involved in helping, even if it’s just with hoovering the lounge and setting the table or doing the clearing up. Ask people/family to bring provisions or look after the kids with a winning ‘I know you’d love to help’ kind of smile.
Make sure you set their expectations early on, so that everyone knows what the plan is e.g. I’ve had a chat with Curly Headed Boy about the order of events on Christmas Day and that his Grand Dad has had a terrible Flu.
Tip 3 – if you are really sure of yourself you don’t need to convince other people you are right
Some people are like energy suckers and love a good
argument discussion they drag you into ‘debates’ which become heated and unpleasant.
Just remember this rule: It really doesn’t matter if people disagree with you, because 50% of the world always disagrees with you. So there is no need to try to convince them or win the debate.
If other people start up a difficult conversation, just interrupt and suggest to continue it at another time or place; after all you are in charge (if it’s not your party, maybe make a distraction instead).
Tip 4 – being clear about your boundaries
Often we get really upset because we have just had hours of abuse or nit-picking. The key is to knock it into touch at the beginning and do it early enough before you are too upset.
It’s not about shouting at people or telling them what you really think. They key is to say how you feel e.g
When xxx does/doesn’t happen
I feel xxx
If it continues/happens again thenconsequence you are willing to go through with that isn’t inflammatory>
- When things like that are said I feel hurt, so if it goes on I’m going to go and have a little walk or watch TV.
- When no one helps me to tidy up after lunch I feel really unappreciated and don’t feel like doing any more
- I get stressed when the kids are running around me when I’m cooking, I need someone to play with them please, otherwise it might be dangerous.
Tip 5 – learn from your mistakes
If you are a bit stressed the night after the event try counting your blessings before you go to sleep, as there is bound to be something from the day that went well, even if it was just how helpful someone was in the midst of the chaos.
Tip 6 – make a plan b
Face your fears, and work out what’s the worst that could happen and hen make a contingency plan and store it away. This is not about worrying about something, this is about sorting out your ‘insurance’ and popping it in a drawer to be pulled out in an emergency, just like we do with cars. Also, when faced, our fears are often never as bad as we think they will be.
Ideas could be to pull out board games to calm down hyper kids, or to have a new film up your sleeve for when everyone needs a chill. Maybe putting on some music would help put people in the festive spirit, or going out for a walk stop people from getting too stir crazy. A big pot of coffee might help with the family drunk, as will not having too much alcohol available for them.
(If however there is domestic violence in your house, I strongly suggest that you get advice from a professional about holiday periods. Plus be very careful if you are planning on leaving soon, as it’s the point of separation that can be the worst).
Tip7 – but expect the best
I bet you are looking at me with misbelief at this one, but seriously, miracles do happen! So the most important tip is to focus on how you would like the event to go, rather than on what you don’t want to happen. If you focus on people misbehaving it tends to happen, maybe because you behave in a way that prompts it psychologically.
This is particularly true of children and awkward relatives. If we expect kids to be badly behaved we tend to get on their case really quickly, thereby over-controlling them, and making them feel suffocated. Being nervous around a tricky relative will put them on their guard as well, thus bringing out the worst in them. Drunken relatives, may still drink, but it’s possible that they fall asleep in the corner, rather than cause a massive problem!
I hope these tips help, as memories from special events can last for a lot longer than the actual event.
Feel free to add your hints and tips or success/disaster stories.