Sure, it might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s definitely the most stressful one, too. After all, your daily to-do’s just got hijacked and now you’ve got quadruple the amount of work to do, parties to attend to, and presents to shop for. So when you look to your partner to pitch in, (and they don’t), you’ll probably get pretty mad. But before you put them on the naughty list, you’ll need to learn how to get your partner to help during the holidays.
If you thought that your partner would automatically know that you’re stressed out during this most joyous season (and offer some assistance), think again. Sometimes, it’s not so obvious to others when we need someone to lend a helping hand. And when your needs are not recognized, well, some serious resentment can start building up. “Although most people love the holidays, like everything else in life, there are good parts and bad parts,” says Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a NYC-based marriage and family therapist, and author of Fragile Power: Why Having Everything Is Never Enough. Lessons from Treating the Wealthy and Famous. “The stresses of the holiday often cause couples to act out in ways that are not consistent with holiday good cheer.”
So from hanging up the stockings to helping your child get their costume ready for the Christmas pageant, learn to lean on your partner, and you just might be surprised at how the holidays become ho ho ho happy again.
Keep It Simple
With so many fun activities to do and yummy dishes to make, it’s easy to get swept away in the season. But for your sake (and your sanity), you should really try to streamline your efforts to include only what’s really necessary. “The simple adage of keeping things simple applies to every aspect of the holidays, from spending money, to indulging in food and drink, to stretching yourself out socially,” says Dr. Hokemeyer. “The holidays are sipped like a fine wine, not gulped beer at a frat party.”
Starting right after Halloween, the deluge of holiday to-dos is going to commence. That’s why you need to start discussing what you and your partner want the holidays to mean to you and your family. “Do you want them to be a celebration of material possessions, or of quality time spent with close friends and family?” says Dr. Hokemeyer. “Be clear and specific in your articulation and then stick with your ideals.” After all, stress can occur when you and your partner are not in sync.
Take Time To Recharge
More often than not, the holidays can feel like a 26-mile marathon that you haven’t properly trained for. But the holidays should be taken slow and steady, not run like a sprint to the finish line. “Most people think they can push through the holidays and then rest at the end,” says Dr. Hokemeyer. “They can, but you’ll pay a price. “ So instead of making yourself stressed out and crazy, make sure to take time for self-care (whether it’s a walk or a bubble bath) each day so that you stay fully recharged—and happy.
Set A Budget
Although you might most likely blow it, there’s nothing wrong with setting a budget at the onset of the holiday season. If you plan to give gifts, set limits and expectations with your partner for how much you’ll spend on the in-laws, kids, friends—even yourselves. That way, you won’t feel stressed when making purchases because you’ll already know what you can (and can’t) afford.
Assess What’s Important
Between a holiday party at work as well as one at your child’s school, things got a whole lot busier at this time of the year. And while it can be exciting to accept every invitation, you shouldn’t feel like you have to. Decide what get-togethers that are competing for your attention really deserve it, and leave yourself (and your FOMO) at home. So speak with your partner and form a plan of action about everything from how many events you’ll attend, to whether you really need to make a homemade holiday cake for your kid’s party.
Let It Go
With everyone’s nerves on high alert during the holidays, it’s easy to lose your patience and snap. Thing is, if you know that you’re already aware of this, you can combat it—and be more compassionate towards your partner, too. Adopt a policy of forgiveness this holiday season—for example, if your partner pisses you off, give yourself a few hours to determine if the issue needs to be addressed or not. If you decide that it’s not really worth it, take a page from the Idina Menzel playbook and just let it go.
Since you don’t want to be a Grinch throughout this season of joy and light, you’ll have to learn how to get your partner to help during the holidays. Together, you can tackle any project that needs to be done, and it will make the holidays merry and bright again.