Have Guests During the Holidays? How to Stay Sane

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

Are you hosting relatives for the holidays? Want to make sure you're all still speaking to one another by the time they leave? ParentsAsk's Ann Corwin has put together a video with suggestions for how to deal with relatives in your home while still keeping your sanity and your family bonds intact.

Corwin's first suggestion is the "Ask a Favor" technique. If a relative is giving you unwanted parenting advice, the "Ask a Favor" technique can help you stand up for yourself without ruffling any feathers. Simply ask, "Could you do me a favor?" Most people, Corwin says, will automatically say, "Well, of course: what favor would you like?" You then tell them that you've decided that, as a parent, you want to make sure you learn from your own mistakes - that way, you can remember what works and what doesn't, and you know you'll be a better parent if you do it that way. "So," you say to them, "if you see me doing something with my kids and it's not exactly what you would do, you might want to hold back and say "Hey, I think she wants to learn that for herself."

Next, set boundaries before your relatives come. If your child takes a nap at a certain time, and you like to spend that time alone, let your relatives know this before they arrive. Give them options for activities to do during that block of time - take a walk, watch some TV -  but let them know that it's not a time for a family get-together. Assure them that after naptime is over, you'll be ready to spend time with them again.

Make sure that you're comfortable with whatever choices you give your visiting relatives. It's no good if you offer them your bedroom, but you already know you'll have a miserable night sleeping on the couch. Likewise, if there's a time you don't let your kids watch TV, don't feel you have to give the relatives carte blanche to watch whatever, whenever. Fill that time with other choices, such as cooking, walking or other activities you can do together.