We are all about encouraging boundaries in relationships because they foster healthy connections and improve self esteem and self compassion. Setting healthy boundaries is especially challenging during the holiday season. Time seems to be more scarce than usual and social obligations increase to the max. During this season, when family is supposed to be a priority, it’s easy for things to get out of whack and then all of the sudden you feel less connected to the loved ones that matter most. “Remember everything you do leaves an impression upon me, it becomes a part of me.”- MacKenzie Hamilton
Your immediate family must be priority number one. With any marriage or partnership, comes families joining together. This can be joyous or torture – it is what you make it, right? So make it great. Set your limits. Set your expectations. Set your boundaries. Boundaries for your own well being, not to control others. Make you, your partner, and your children the priority and do what’s right for you. Don’t attend parties that are going to go too late for your small children, or make sure to leave so that you can be home close to bedtime, if that means keeping the peace in your household. Bring food your kids will eat if they are picky eaters, bring snacks if the adults in your life eat at 8:00 P.M. but your kids are used to eating at 5:00 P.M. Set a limit of one evening obligation per week during the holiday season if it’s going to take you away from your own family. Fight the urge to “do everything” no matter the social pressure you perceive your choice in responding to it is what counts. Shame can easily creep up during the holiday season, remembering to have empathy and self compassion for yourself and the stress, will make time with your family more enjoyable. Everyone will be grateful for you setting boundaries and putting you and your family first. “ You weren’t meant to do it alone. Humans are hardwired for connection”- Brenè Brown
In this day and age blended families are common and can be one of the biggest stressors during this time of year. There is pressure to see and spend time with everyone but what ends up happening is that people are so overbooked that you aren’t able to connect and have meaningful visits with those you hold dear. You are so busy preparing and thinking about your next obligation that you aren’t able to enjoy the present one. Setting limits and boundaries with who you spend your time with, allows the visits that you do have to be meaningful ones. You have more of yourself to give because you are able to be fully present and in the moment. Being present brings joy to the moment. “Sometimes, I just need to take a break from the world”- Brady Hamilton
The holidays usually bring more family functions. They also often come with work parties, and more friend gatherings. It’s easy to become overbooked. Be mindful of what you say yes to. Make sure it’s a priority for you. If not, politely decline. When setting boundaries, remember that clear is kind. Be clear about what you want. When you RSVP “maybe” to a party and then fail to update your hosts, you are sending mixed signals. Setting boundaries is hard, especially with those you care about! Expect resistance but don’t let it deter you. Most people are feeling the stress of the hustle and bustle this time of year and can understand when you say no. If they don’t respect your limits, that can be a sign of an unhealthy relationship and it’s best that you address that at a later date instead. “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others”-Brenè Brown
When we, as parents, are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, guess who else feels it? Yep. Our kids. Even the littlest member of your family knows when you are stressed to the max. So take care of you first. Do whatever you need to in order to protect your time and energy so that you have enough to give those most important to you. The holidays are busy, there is just no getting around that. Protect time for you, protect time for you and your partner, and protect time for your kids. Make a deal with your kids that the television stays off after dinner, but you will all sit down for a quick family game before bed time each night. Candyland takes about as much time as an episode of Paw Patrol and very little brain power – but it has big results. These are the memories your children will hold on to long-term. Children remember the time they had with you, more than they remember the episodes they watched. Enjoying the advent calendar(lego, candy, etc.) or other family traditions in the fun lights and atmosphere of the holiday creates memories and stories for your future conversations. Playing as a family creates connection and increases joy. This is what the holiday season is really about. “Connections bring moments, moments bring memories, memories bring traditions.”-Cary Hamilton
It’s no secret that kids need structure, limits, and boundaries. Then come the holidays where we stretch bed times, drive long distances to see loved ones, increase sugar intake x 10, and give them a two week break from their regular routines. Of course they will have a difficult time living up to our expectations of their behavior! Remember who is in charge. Children (even teenagers!) don’t get to plan out their family holiday plans, the adults do. You are in charge of how busy your children and your family get. So if you are someone who has to do it all, remember that your children can’t. Set those limits and boundaries. If not for yourself, do it for your children and your family. Doing less is more during this time of year. Remember that setting boundaries is not a short term goal, it is a long term process. The holidays can be a wonderful time of year to practice setting boundaries. Chances are you will start off the new year feeling more refreshed, more present, and more fully engaged in the moment. “From the joy of a child’s soul to the light of your heart”- Mackenzie Hamilton
When it comes to boundaries, understanding and speaking our truth is often at the core of the challenge. Recently, Cary Hamilton has become a Certified Daring Way™️ Facilitator to bring The Daring Way™️ to Olympia, WA. She will be running groups & inviting companies to invite boundaries setting and living an authentic wholehearted life. We cover topics such as vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness. The primary focus is to developing shame resilience skills and developing daily practices that transform the way we LIVE, LOVE, PARENT, & LEAD.
If you are interested please find more information on our website.
Written by Carrie Pipkin & Cary Hamilton