This time of year brings a combination of joy and challenge for many of us. No matter what one celebrates, Christmas, Chanukah, Winter Solstice, or Kwanzaa it can be easy to feel that there is too much to do and too little time in which to do it. Our family lives may go through the process of reintegrating returning college students or having elderly parents, siblings and extended family visit. In order to effectively cope with all that comes during this season it is helpful to focus and be clear on what really matters and what does not. Perfection does not exist in real life, other than with snowflakes.
If we drive to create fantasies we lose touch with reality and in so doing expose ourselves to greater frustration and disappointment. It is important to remind ourselves that our returning college students will be different than when we dropped them off on campus. They have had several months of living independently and have new ways of thinking. Having an open discussion about expectations and understandings of how life in the family home is can help prevent distressing behavior. Dealing with elderly relatives requires a different mindset. It can be emotionally painful to see parents decline in function.
Patience goes a long way in assisting with confronting the changes. Being part of the sandwich generation mandates clarity with young adults and understanding with relatives while trying to remain in our “adult selves” and not be drawn back to an earlier, less mature developmental stage. By using some of our tools: setting priorities, being realistic, taking time to breathe and enjoy, celebrate connections, employ the 10-10-10 rule, listen and talk not just talk we can not just survive the holidays but actually smile, laugh and feel gratitude for the moments shared.